Article and photograph by Allie Marie Smith
In high school, you could say I suffered from a bit of social anxiety. At the grocery store checkout line, upon signing my receipt, my right hand would shake and I wasn’t able to look the clerk in the eye. In conversation with acquaintances or people I didn’t know well, I was always more concerned with how I was composing myself and with what I should say next than I was with listening to what the other person was saying. My face frequently turned red anytime I was nervous or got around someone I wanted to impress.
My thoughts constantly turned inward and I was plagued by insecurity. In hindsight, I see that I was partly miserable because I was self-focused; and I was self-focused because I was miserable. I believed by turning all my energy inward I could fix myself, become my ideal self and make people accept and like me. Unfortunately, that plan didn’t work out for me and at the age of eighteen I found myself signing papers that I was a danger to myself.
While my journey from severe depression and amidst mental health challenges has been multi-faceted, one thing I have learned is this:
The more I try to fix myself, the more captive I become. However, the more I rest in my intrinsic value and worth, the more freedom I experience. Additionally, the more I forget myself, the more wide-awake I am to the people and experiences around me.
C.S. Lewis penned the famous words, “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” I would add to his words this: Thinking of yourself less, frees you to think of others more.
I’ve discovered the further I take a genuine interest in other people, the more secure I am with who I am. One beauty secret is this: You will become more beautiful in one day by loving other people, than you will in one year by trying to get other people to love you. I now believe in the splendidness and freedom of self-forgetfulness.
*This article originally appeared on Darling Magazine
Allie Marie Smith is the volunteer Founder and Executive Director of Wonderfully Made and has a Marketing and Photography business for small businesses. She is the co-host of the Wonderfully Made Podcast and the author of two Bible Studies “Becoming Who You Are In Christ” and “Healthy Eating and Abundant Living.” Allie lives in North Santa Barbara County with her husband Paul where she loves surfing and adventuring up and down California’s golden coast.