When We Feel Like Imposters to Our Own Lives

When I first started teaching, I would sometimes stand beside myself as if someone else was teaching in the classroom. Even though I had spent quite a few years at university preparing myself for this job, I didn’t feel ready to be a teacher. I was waiting for the day when a student would jump up, point his finger at me and discover who I really was: a fake, pretending to be someone else. An imposter to my own life.

Sometimes in life we might do exactly that: we stand beside ourselves and watch life happen to us.

We compare ourselves to the shiny projections others share online and wonder why we don’t seem to be so happy, well-traveled and balanced.
We long for authentic relationships and a sense of belonging, but we are scared to be vulnerable and rather hide our true selves.
We carry all these big dreams inside of us that we’re too timid to share, so we stick to the same old.
We want to have it all figured out, to know exactly who we are and what we stand for. We want to go far and grow deep, but we lack the courage to take the first step right in front of us.
We think of who we will become.
One day.

In all of this, we might overlook the most important part: We are the ones who can make it happen. In fact, we need to make it happen. No one but us can build the life we envision to have.

The life before had happened to me as childhood happens to everyone. The mark of adulthood is when we happen to life.

Jedidiah Jenkins.
To Shake the Sleeping Self.

If we want to grow and go anywhere in this life, we need to take responsibility for ourselves and the person we want to become.
We can’t escape from the seeming imposters in our lives – we need to get to know ourselves and fall in love with them. We are the only ones who will always be around. We can’t chase someone else’s dream – we need to figure out what we truly want in life. We cannot just repeat what others say – we need to craft our own words.
We can’t hope for answers to come by naturally – we need to sit in the waiting and embrace the unknown.
We can’t expect relationships to grow out of the blue – we need to give away some of our time, our thoughts, our selves to build something that lasts.

We can’t just stand by and watch life happen to us – we need to understand what kind of crucial impact we can have to this life.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Why You Matter in this World (Thoughts on the New Year)

I know I’m a little late to the game, but welcome back to a new year on this part of the internet!
Here’s to a new year of making plans, hard work and great achievements.
Here’s to a new year of self-doubt. 

You’re not good enough for this task. 
Don’t overestimate your own talent. 
You will never be able to see it through to the end. 
This has never been done before. 
No one will read your writing anyway. 
So you want to become famous?

I am not saying that this year all your dreams will come true. And if you’ve been around here for a while you know that I am not a big fan of New Years resolutions. I can’t guarantee that this year will be a good one for you.

But there’s something that might make a difference:
Let’s focus on influence this year.

Seek inspiration for your work and creativity. If something or someone doesn’t strike a chord deep inside of you, don’t waste your time comparing yourself to them.
Discover the magic of the unsubscribe or unfollow button.
Slow down and notice the beauty around you.
Dig into a good book and marvel at other artist’s craft.
Challenge yourself and listen to someone outside your bubble, you might just find treasure.
Find your people who are brave enough to dream with you and step into the groundwork together.
Surround yourself with friends who are willing to hold your heart as it cracks open with vision and vulnerability.
Become aware of who you’re around every week and how you might influence them. Take responsibility for the impact you make on others and the world around you.

Here’s to a new year in which growth and strength will slowly, gradually conquer the spaces in our heart where self-doubt once used to sit. 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

 

A Simple and Profound Message for Christmas

This year I went a little crazy with Christmas music. Beginning with the first advent Sunday, I put on my Christmas playlist and the familiar tunes have been blasted around the apartment for the better part of the past month. Songs about snowy landscapes, time with the family and peace all around. 

The melody of this world often sounds very different, though. 

Winter has been replaced by climate change, people dread the drama of relationships and Christmas is anything but peaceful. We’re stressed out, exhausted from the year and overwhelmed by the darkness surrounding us. 

Emmanuel. God is with us. 

In the midst of our busy lives and worried hearts, there is the soft and yet so striking message of Christmas. It won’t solve all our problems, it won’t take all our burdens away. 

And yet there is something comforting, peaceful, profound to know that we don’t have to walk through the wilderness alone. 

Emmanuel is with us. 
His presence is closer than we often realize. 

So as we gather around the Christmas tree at slightly warmer temperatures, as we bask in candle light and maybe struggle with the darkness – be with each other. 
Be present at the dinner table and in challenging conversations. 
Be there to share the pains and joys of life together. 
Remind each other of Emmanuel this Christmas. 

He is with us. 
Where can you see him this week? 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today, the last one for this year. Merry Christmas to you agnd your loved ones!

How to Navigate Rough Waters

“You know what I’d like to do right now? Go and have a coffee.” My friend had just arrived to spend the weekend with me. The official reason is a photo exhibition she’s about to open here – but it was an added bonus to have a few days together without her kids or my pressing work schedule. So we went for coffee and a second breakfast in the middle of the day.

As we indulged ourselves in pancakes and extra large coffee mugs, we updated each other on what had happened in our worlds since the last time we had talked. We shared news of friends who were struggling at work, relationships that were breaking apart, and the feeling of helplessness on the outside.
We sat there wondering, our hearts aching for all the dear people who worked so hard and saw their lives falling apart nevertheless.

I guess we’re less in control of life than we’d like to be. Often it doesn’t take much to lose it and stand in front of broken pieces, dreams, hopes.

When things on the outside start falling apart, we might have to take a closer look at the inside.
What makes life worth living?
What gives our souls its balance and our hearts its stability? 

The more I am caught up in the busyness of the working world, the seeming expectations of others and the impossibility of doing it all, the more I realize that I cannot just brush up the outside. A nice facade will only look nice until the winds of life start crashing against it.
If we want balance in our souls and lives, we need to work on the inside and create some depth that will navigate us safely through the rough waters.

Maybe this Advent season can serve as a reminder to slow down, light a candle and meditate on this simple, and yet so challenging, message.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today. Happy second Advent, y’all!

Have a Little More “Ting” in Your Life

A couple of years ago, John Mark McMillan was asked what his greatest accomplishment was. He said the following:

The thing that brings me the most satisfaction is sitting on my porch with people I love and talk. I can build big organizations and people can know my name – But in the end, none of that stuff feels as good as sitting across a table from somebody, telling a story, laughing a little, crying a little, raising a glass and hearing that little “ting”. All of life is inside that “ting”: fellowship and love and laughter, and you can hear Jesus in that “ting”.

There have been quite a few moments in my life when I just stood there, dumbstruck, wondering at what had just happened.
Two people had just talked, and yet, an ocean of thoughts and beauty and depth had opened up between us.
A bond had been forged, a sense of knowing and being known.
A safety of having your soul held by someone else.

I walked away, deeply satisfied and the sound of “ting” ringing in my ear and heart.

Since I am a reflective person, I often wonder how such encounters come about.
What can we do to have them more often?
Even though I don’t believe that every of our talks has to be super emotional and long, I am convinced that deep conversations which show our raw honest selves are essential for our inner well-being and growth. 

You can’t fabricate depth.
You can’t will yourself into having a deep conversation.
I can’t give you a five-step action plan to create good talks.

I guess it comes down to simplicity.

Going for a walk with a friend.
Sitting down for a meal together.
Inviting others to your table.
Spending time intentionally.
Practicing gratitude together.
Sharing more of your life, your thoughts, your heart.
Simply being yourself and taking off the pressure to perform.

Telling a story, laughing and crying together.
Feeling the soft covers of fellowship embrace us.
Hearing that little “ting” resounding in and around us.

Where can you hear the “ting” in your life today? 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

What If?

Sometimes I wonder how stupid we as human beings can be.

In the attempt to understand our world and with our innate desire for everything to make sense, we have simplified so many of life’s big stories and happenings. We have put everything and everyone in boxes, sorted all the world’s mysteries into logical categories.

We seem to have done everything right.
And maybe gotten it all wrong.

What if there is more than one answer to the nagging questions in all of us?
What if issues are more complex than we wish them to be and we need to wrestle with them for days, months, years until we experience a breakthrough?
What if “I don’t know” is actually an honest gift in a conversation?
What if people are more than they let on initially and we actually need to take the time to dig deeper and uncover the treasures inside them?
What if the ‘others’ are more like us than we allow them to be within the walls of our hatred and prejudice?
What if God has more shapes, faces and character traits than we have boxed him in and we have barely scratched the surface of the truly divine?

What if we miss out on so much beauty, color and abundance if we narrow our view to just the one thing?


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Close your eyes…

… for a moment and let the week pass in your mind.
What were you working on?
What kept you the busiest?
Who have you met?
What have you talked about? 

I was quite shocked a couple of months ago when a pedagogy professor told me that in their entire school career, students don’t spend more than twenty minutes talking to their teachers outside of class.
Conversations that don’t revolve around grades or the lessons are rare.

And yet they are so needed. 

Every day, every week, we have full schedules that send us all around and keep us busy. At work, with our friends, at home, at church – we always have our role to play, our mask to put on.
We do so much, but when is there time to just be? When can we drop the masks and be ourselves? 

As human beings, we are made for connnection, and yet we take so little time to create and cultivate it.
Those times when we are truly ourselves, when we tear down the walls that life and lies have built around our hearts.
Those talks that make us sigh and breathe deep because something inside us has just been released.
Those moments when we know that there is something bigger and higher that ties us all together inextricably. 

In response, a colleague and I started to offer interviews for our students. A moment when we would meet – no longer teacher and students, just two people – to talk about life outside of school, future plans, netflix shows and hobbies. I was nervous at first because I didn’t know how students would respond to this new form of talking. 

The fifteen minutes time slots we had allocated per interview were almost always exceeded. There was just too much to talk, think and laugh about. I was left wondering, smiling and immensely grateful for the glimpses I was allowed in someone else’s life and sweet moments of connection. 

Create connection today. 

Call a long lost friend.
Take a minute to ask more than the obligatory “How are you?”.
Smile at a stranger.
Be bold and take the first step in sharing something personal. What you’ll get in return will be worth it. 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.