Daily Living · Identity

When You Feel Non-Traditional in a Traditional World


When I was in elementary school, I was homeschooled and played with dolls longer than I probably should have.

I loved dressing up in costumes and making up stories and planning parties and personifying everything around me.

When I was in high school, I played sports for one year, and after that, I chose to do drama and choir.

I said, “No, I’m not going to date, and I’m not going to kiss onstage.”

I believed that the world was created rather than evolved, and I spoke up in biology class to question my teacher on how he knew for sure that the world had come out of a Big Bang.

When I graduated from high school, I said, “No, I’m not going straight to college,” and I chose to work and go live in England for two months instead.

When I graduated from college, I was 26 and had worked for CYT for 7 years while going in and out of college.

And now, at age 30, I’m not the one getting married and having babies – I’m the single woman who’s teaching and writing a book on the side, as well as directing a national student leadership program and sometimes directing children’s theater performances.

And even though I’m a teacher and love my job, I don’t foresee a traditional 30-year career there with a comfortable retirement at age 65.

Because the problem is – I’ve never been traditional my entire life.

I love so many other things that aren’t so “traditional,” especially the “impractical” arts – the things people say you can’t make money off of and that you should always have a back-up plan for.

I love the things that make me – and so many like me – come alive – scripting words on a page, telling someone’s story onstage, being whirled around in a dance, letting my voice soar in song, speaking passionately in front of people, guiding someone into new roles of leadership.

And I’m pretty sure the choices I make in the future will involve chasing some of those a little more fully.

But it’s hard to be non-traditional.

It’s hard to have people not understand you and worry that you’re being impractical or foolish.

It’s hard not to worry that yourself.

It’s hard not to doubt yourself and think that maybe you should just choose the safe way that everyone’s telling you to choose.

I’ve battled that since high school.

But there’s something deep inside of me – a little flame of passion – that’s kept burning steadily despite the winds of conventionality that try to blow it out.

Something that whispers no.

Safe isn’t what you were made for.

It’s up on my wall so that I can see it every day – that quote by Ann Voskamp – “You were made to make more than a living – you were made to make a difference.”

And making a difference for me means being different. It means embracing the loves that God Himself put within my soul. It means being faithful to the specific gifts and passions that God has given me, despite what the world says.

Yes, we need the traditional types of people in the world.

But, oh, how we need the non-traditional types of people, too. The people whose lives look a little different because they know they’ve been called to a work that not everyone can do. The people who use art and art forms to inspire and touch others’ souls.

Yes, we need to be wise with our money and make sure that we can pay our bills and live independently. But if there’s a hunger in our souls for something that’s not so traditional, we shouldn’t push it aside or let others tell us it’s not important.

Because how do we know that our words, our acting, our singing, our dancing, our public speaking, our jobs that so few others have, aren’t exactly what someone out there needs to see the love of Christ?

I believe with all of my heart that God, the Master Creator, is artistic and wants us to be artistic as well. And if He’s created us with those gifts that might not be so “traditional,” we must not waste them by feeling embarrassed by them. Rather, we must embrace them so that we can give them away to bless others.

Let the world around us wonder, worry, and scoff. They aren’t living our lives. Only we can do that.

And I, for one, am ready to start embracing it 100% – the way God wants me to – and the way He’s created me to.

If you’re feeling a little non-traditional yourself tonight, in whatever way that might be – let’s just celebrate how God has made us. You never know who you might be inspiring to do the same.


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