- Who am I?
- What is my purpose?
- How can I change the world and make an eternal difference?
- How can I love myself when I feel unlovable?
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.60(d)|
|Age Range:||11 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Whose Approval Are You Living For?
By Kari Kampakis
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2016 Kari Kampakis
All rights reserved.
The real you is better than the false you. Be true to yourself.
Every morning when Alexis woke up, she felt the same familiar pressure.
Pressure to dress up.
Pressure to look stunning.
Pressure to be perfect, flawless, and amazing.
There was a time when Alexis enjoyed getting ready for school. She loved trying the newest makeup tutorial, styling her hair, and putting together new outfits.
But now? Now it all felt like a chore. As soon as Alexis opened her eyes, a familiar dread set in. She was tired of all the effort required to live up to her image. She was tired of the lifestyle she'd inadvertently created for herself.
Her gripe sounded so shallow and vain, and that's why Alexis didn't discuss this with anyone. Who wanted to hear the supposed "It" girl complain about the time and energy it took to meet everyone's expectations? Even her mom couldn't help because she would just tell Alexis to drop her morning routine if it no longer made her happy.
But Alexis was scared to drop it because then people might drop her. And despite what her grades in chemistry suggested, Alexis wasn't dumb. She knew why boys paid attention to her. She understood why girls sought her advice, copied her style, and wanted to be her friend.
In matters of beauty and fashion, Alexis was the expert. And though she wasn't sure how she'd earned this reputation or when she'd become the school trendsetter, she did like being known for something. It felt good to have people respect her opinion, listen to her, and anxiously await her arrival at events to see what look she'd pulled off this time.
Being the "It" girl had been fun, but Alexis was over it. All the compliments and praise were starting to sound empty and trite. Deep down, she longed for more. She knew change was in order, but she questioned whether she could handle the consequences.
After all, right now she was a Somebody. And altering the lifestyle that seemed to work for everyone but her might make her a Nobody.
Alexis also wondered if turning over a new leaf was even possible. Would anyone take her seriously if she talked less about the hot new nail polish and more about dreams, hopes, and goals? What if her friends wanted the old Alexis back? What if they found the new Alexis dull and boring?
In some weird, unexplainable way, Alexis felt like a prisoner in her own body. She was trapped in a routine out of habit and fear, helpless until the day she would become brave enough to finally break the cycle.
Her dream was to wake up one morning with her mind and body at ease. She wanted relief from these bells and whistles that others expected from her and the courage to be her most honest, natural self.
The Truth About Identity
If you think about it, you can become almost anyone you want to be. You can take on any identity imaginable. The possibilities are endless.
It's freeing to have so many choices, isn't it? Yet at the same time, the number of choices can be overwhelming. Sometimes you need help narrowing down the options. You need a starting point and some clues to point you in the right direction and create a vision for your life.
Typically, your search for identity begins in your immediate environment. You watch your parents and think about, and perhaps copy, what you see. You look at the people around you and make mental notes about what they value, the choices they make, who they form relationships with, and how happy — or terrible — their lives seem.
You may also look at popular culture and your current favorite celebrities. Whoever you're drawn to, whoever inspires you, whoever you relate to most — these tend to become the role models who you notice, study, and emulate.
Throughout your identity-searching process, you'll ask yourself questions. Your questions may sound like these as you try to decode your inner mystery:
* Who do I want to be like?
* Who do I not want to be like?
* Whose life looks appealing?
* Whose life does not look appealing?
* Who shares my passions?
* Whose footsteps would I like to follow?
* Who do I have a lot in common with?
* Who can I see myself becoming?
At some point in this process, another dynamic comes into play. You begin picking up on how other people perceive you and receive you. You draw conclusions about what they think of you by the way they talk to you, treat you, and see you.
This external feedback plays a huge role in shaping your self-image. For better or for worse, you're likely to internalize what you hear as well as the messages people convey through verbal and nonverbal clues.
* That girl said I'm beautiful. I must be a beautiful person.
* That girl looked at me with disgust. I must be a disgusting person.
* That boy said he loved me. I must be a lovable person.
* That boy treated me as if I'm worthless. I must be a worthless person.
In some situations, noticing how people respond to you is useful. It can help you hone your social skills and allow you to recognize areas where you may have room to improve.
At the same time, it's easy to overanalyze everyone's reaction to you — and sometimes come to the wrong conclusion about yourself. It's tempting to let the approval or disapproval of others shape the way you think about yourself and determine the identity you choose.
Whatever version of you people seem to like best — well, that's who you strive to become. Or you may test-drive different identities until you find one that strikes a chord and gets you noticed, praised, and accepted.
Letting people determine who you should be, however, turns you into a people-pleaser. It leads you to rely on human affirmation instead of God's. As His quiet voice gets drowned out by public opinion, you may lose touch with what you know deep down is most important. You may not see a problem because, with all the cheering you hear from people around you, everything seems fine.
But you can be on the wrong track and still get cheered on wildly. You can make a big mistake and still have some people smiling and patting you on the back.
For this reason, among others, you can't depend solely on external clues to shape your identity. After all, people sometimes get it wrong. People sometimes tell lies that ultimately hurt you. People may encourage you to make choices and build an identity that reflects the values of the world, not the will of God.
Slowly but surely, these choices can separate you from God. They create a gap between who you are and who you're called to be as a child of the Lord.
So what's a girl to do? How do you begin learning who you truly are?
According to God, your starting point and focal point should be Jesus. Since Jesus is unchanging, since He is "the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8), He's the rock that you can build your life on.
Overnight you can lose everything the world tells you to base your identity on: your talents, your appearance, your friends, your wardrobe, your possessions, even your Instagram account. You can be stripped of all the earthly trappings that we humans tend to put our faith in.
But what nobody can take away is your status as a child of God and the promise of heaven you have through your relationship with Jesus. In Christ, you have the hope of eternal life. You have a joy to cling to in all circumstances.
Even if life pulls the rug out from under you, even if your worst nightmare comes true, you'll still be standing with Jesus when you make Him the foundation of your life.
With Jesus as your rock, the basis of your identity, you can confidently live the life of virtue that God has planted in your heart. You won't have to fear rejection or hustle for human approval because God's unconditional love provides all the approval you need.
As you accept God's love and affirmation, you grow more capable of loving others. You can take the love that God gives you and pass it on. Doing this makes you the kind of person people want to be around because love is magnetic.
Real freedom begins with knowing the truth. By basing your identity search on the truth and letting the Holy Spirit — God's presence in you — guide you, the real you can emerge. You will find the freedom to be who God created you to be.
It's Hard to Love Someone You Don't Know
So much is said these days about the importance of being "real," "vulnerable," and "transparent."
Even so, these qualities can be difficult to find — especially online where it's easy to project a glossy identity. Facebook is often called "Fakebook" because people tend to share only their best moments, and we buy into the illusion that other people's lives are consistently perfect.
We know this is impossible, of course, but the pictures tell a different story.
The truth is, we love it when other people are real. We appreciate the courage and honesty that being genuine requires, and we wish more people would do the same.
But when it comes to pulling back the curtain on our own lives, we hesitate. We're scared to admit our flaws or show our weaknesses. We're convinced that if people knew the real scoop about us, they wouldn't like us anymore. They'd be unimpressed or disappointed.
So what do we do instead of being genuine? We put on masks. We perfect our appearance. We dress ourselves up and hide anything that may reveal or be perceived as an imperfection.
Why? Because our world puts shiny, perfect girls on a pedestal. In our media-obsessed culture, being beautiful quickly gets a girl noticed. And the prettier and more perfect a girl appears, the higher her pedestal rises. She attracts more attention, more applause, and more special treatment.
And though we all know that inner beauty is more important than outer beauty, a girl doesn't receive any fanfare when her heart grows more beautiful. Boys don't whistle as she passes by. Girls don't tell her that she looks fabulous. People don't obsess over her pictures on social media and gush about how GOR-GEOUS her heart is.
Here's the kicker: during this stage of life, when you're fast approaching your physical peak, the applause for physical perfection rings loudest. You face intense pressure to invest more in your outward appearance than your inner life, prioritizing show over substance.
Sadly, what many people are most eager to know about you are answers to questions like these:
* Who are your friends?
* Who is your boyfriend?
* What kind of car do you (or will you) drive?
* What brands of clothing do you wear?
* What part of town do you live in?
* How many followers do you have on social media?
* What's the highest number of "likes" you've ever gotten?
Is it shallow and superficial for people to care so much about your exterior package? Yes.
Is it unfortunate that we live in an age of sound bites and thin-slicing, when you have seven seconds or less to make a good impression and when people make snap judgments about you with little information? Of course it is.
Is it unfair that people take a quick mental snapshot of who they think you are and define you by what's evident on the outside, depriving you of the chance to reveal yourself at a deeper level? Definitely.
But your best defense, I believe, is awareness. Be aware of what you're dealing with. Accept now that you'll encounter many people who care more about those fabulous shoes you're wearing or the pretty house you live in than what is stirring in your heart.
They'd rather talk about the size of your figure or the cost of your homecoming dress than your hopes, fears, and disappointments.
Bracing yourself for our culture's preoccupation with presentation can help you avoid buying into its superficiality. It helps you understand in advance the dangers of defining yourself by the world's values and cultivating a false you — the girl who may look super impressive ... yet at the expense of a neglected soul.
Do You Want a Life of Meaning — or a Life of Attention?
Remember Alexis in the opening story? Like many girls, Alexis mistakenly believed her looks were her best asset. She'd built an identity for herself based on eyelash curlers, spray tans, and fashion statements.
But even if you're a showstopper like Alexis, you have so much more to offer the world than advice about how to look amazing. To believe otherwise is to sell yourself short.
Like Alexis, you must overcome any fear of people not liking you if you drop the act. You must remember that real relationships begin with your being real because people can't love someone they don't know.
Just because your friends know how talented a gymnast you are or how much you love Lilly Pulitzer doesn't mean they really know you. Simply knowing these facts about you isn't enough for them to build a rich and dynamic relationship with you.
To be deeply loved and known, you have to dig deeper. This means thinking about what's below the surface and sharing your heart with people who have earned your trust and respect.
The real you wants a life of meaning. The false you settles for a life of attention.
The real you doesn't need materialism. The false you is consumed by it.
The real you worships God. The false you worships yourself.
The real you sees with the heart. The false you trusts only the eye's opinion.
The real you lives with eternity in mind. The false you lives in waiting for the latest and greatest Tory Burch bag.
Decide now which "you" you want to be. Identify in your own life any actions, thoughts, and habits that cultivate the real you versus the false you — and nurture those positives.
Nobody ever figures it out perfectly. Fighting the urge to chase human approval over God's approval is a lifelong battle, and we all occasionally make the mistake of cultivating a false identity at the expense of our real one.
But the good news is, God is gracious. He gives new mercies each morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). God understands your temptations and pressures, and He knows how challenging it is to rise above the world's idea of female perfection.
You are better than the splashy image our world pushes on you and your friends, and with prayer and determination, you can avoid buying into it. You can build your identity on things that matter and discover your self-worth by being uniquely, wonderfully you.
Staying True to Yourself
My friend Sophie Hudson works with teenage girls in Birmingham, Alabama. A beloved author, blogger, and speaker, Sophie has a huge heart for girls and amazing insight into their thought lives.
At the high school where she works, Sophie helped start a program called SOS: Stack Our Stones & Share Our Stories. She invites girls who have graduated to share their testimonies with the younger girls.
Their testimonies usually reflect this theme: "Here's what my life looked like on the outside ... and here's what was really happening on the inside."
What Sophie recognizes is the healing power of sharing our insecurities and misguided quests. Besides building character, being vulnerable builds community and helps others. It breaks down walls and gives other girls permission to be honest. What results is an environment where girls can relax and be real.
And isn't that what we all dream of? Don't we all crave a safe place where we can be ourselves and share whatever is on our hearts?
Please note the key words here are safe place. Particularly when it comes to sharing your innermost thoughts, I advise you to use discretion regarding who you share them with and where you do it.
As you can imagine, some people would love to twist your words around and use them against you. They'd like to prey on what you share as your vulnerabilities and weak points.
For this reason, among others, I strongly suggest that you don't post your deepest, darkest secrets on social media in the name of being "real." I wouldn't air your dirty laundry or publicly share the most private details of your life.
The fact is, some details and life moments should remain private. They should be reserved for a close circle of people you fully trust — like your mom, dad, sister, brother, best friend, cousin, counselor, or someone else who loves you and respects you enough to keep your private matters private.
Eventually you may be ready to share the story of your adolescent years. But right now, your story is unfolding. It's still taking shape as you discover who you are both individually and as part of a bigger community.
The good news is, now is the perfect time to cultivate the real you. Now is the time to peel back the layers and explore who you are below the surface. With your identity search just starting, you're not too set in your ways, and you haven't mastered the art of pretending to be someone you're not.
So take advantage of this opportunity to be honest with yourself and think about the identity you hope to grow into.
* * *
Five Ways to Cultivate the Real You
Cultivating the real you requires you to trust God and listen to His voice.
God designed you to live for Him, and the identity that feels best — the one that will bring you the greatest peace and joy — will always be one that reflects His values and character.
Excerpted from Liked by Kari Kampakis. Copyright © 2016 Kari Kampakis. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Identity 1
2 Confidence 21
3 Kindness 34
4 Character 48
5 Commitment 69
6 Connection 83
7 Wisdom 100
8 Humility 117
9 Courage 137
10 Direction 156
About the Author 181