5 Tips to Becoming More Comfortable in Your Own Skin

Margaret —  December 13, 2012 — 43 Comments

handstand

I’ve always struggled with being a little different from everyone else. My story never seemed to sound like everyone else’s story. Let me give you an example.

Sometimes people will ask me, “Where do your parents live?”

Now most adult children will say their parents live in their hometown or home state. Maybe they snowbird to Arizona or Florida for the winters.

My parents live on remote island in the Bahamas in a shack they built themselves by pulling every two by four and bag of nails up from the beach landing. When they didn’t know how to build something they’d pray and ask God to send someone. Within a few days someone would show up on the island and explain to them how to build to roof or help them hang drywall. They lived in the shack for three years until electricity reached the island, and now life is much easier.

That answer seems to be, ahem, different than everyone else’s response. For most of my life, my family, including Leif, lived out the script of our lives differently from most people. I’ve secretly been jealous of “normal” people most of my life. As a kid, I dreamed of living in a neighborhood where all the houses matched and everyone wore the same clothes to school.

So getting comfy in my own skin has taken a while. I’ve had to learn to embrace what some of my friends endearingly call “quirkiness.” Which is a word I despise, by the way. Probably making it all the more true. Insert eye roll.

When a friend and noted Bible scholar read through Wonderstruck, he said, “In this book, you’re more comfortable in your own skin than I’ve ever seen you before.”

The words stung, because they confessed what I know to be true but would rather not give voice to. But I decided to embrace the hearty compliment and become even more committed to this journey of becoming comfy in my own skin.

Maybe you’re on your own journey. If so, here are five tips I’ve been learning along the way:

1. Learn to celebrate your story.

Every person’s story is unique. Some more than others. Wink. Some stories have more highlights, others more lowlights. But every story has its share of triumph and tragedy, accolades and aches. Through these stories and all their variations, God reveals the greater story taking place in our world.

When we hold back our stories, we tether the proclamations of redemption, transformation, and freedom. When we don’t share our stories, someone else is denied the opportunity to find solace in knowing they’re not alone.

2. Nurture those long time friendships.

You can buy more than a million items on Ebay, but a 10- or 15- or 25-year friendship isn’t one of them. When we invest in friendships that trace back to elementary school, high school, college, graduate school, the military, previous workplaces and neighborhoods, we obtain the things in life that can’t be bought—the wonder of knowing and being known.

Those friendships often reveal the history of people and places and situations that shaped us. Remembering those moments allows us to celebrate our joys and process through our pain. Sometimes we must venture back in order to move forward.

3. Take your biggest, deepest questions to God first.

Most of us carry around big, deep questions we rarely say aloud—though they often manifest themselves in our actions and attitudes. We may wrestle with questions of if we’re loved or whether we’re loveable. We may face questions of belonging, purpose, and identity.

I believe God wants to answer those first and foremost. He wants to whisper the breadth and depth of His love into the inner recesses of our being. God longs to remind us that we belong to Him and our identity is only truly discovered in Him. As we take these questions to God and seek answers through the Scripture, we find ourselves more grounded in Him and all we’re designed to become.

4. Remember that your greatest strengths and weaknesses are intimately intertwined.

Most leadership books encourage us to maximize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses, but don’t explore the idea that our strengths are intertwined with our weaknesses.

Becoming comfortable in your own skin requires acknowledging and coming to terms with areas where you’re gifted and those where you’re lacking and learning how to navigate life, relationships, and the workplace accordingly.

5. Embrace your quirkiness.

This has proven the most difficult of all to me. But I’m wildly peculiar about the most random things. I prefer a rollerball pen to a ballpoint. I’m not a fan of the color purple except in sunsets and sunrises (sorry!). I’ve been known to drive 50 miles to chase down a killer food truck. I get nauseous if you touch my belly button. I think cooking feels a lot like creating art. I like that feeling. I love playing outdoors and drinking in the beauty of creation. I prefer laughing until my belly hurts to sit up. And I have a slight crush on Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec. Don’t worry, my hubby Leif and I have talked about it. (Turns out he’s a lot like Ron Swanson—go figure!).

As we learn to laugh at ourselves and love ourselves as delightful creatures made in the image of God, we can’t help but become more comfortable in our own skin. And when we do, something magical happens for everyone around us.

They suddenly and quite unexpectantly become a little more comfortable, too.

Maybe you’ll read Wonderstruck and think what my friend thought—that I seem more comfy in my own skin than ever before, too. Maybe not. Regardless, I invite you to embrace wholly and fully who you are—living, laughing, loving God and this blessed life.

What’s your secret to becoming more comfortable in your own skin?

*Original photo found here

 

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43 responses to 5 Tips to Becoming More Comfortable in Your Own Skin

  1. Turning 30. I even use the phrase “comfortable in my own skin” when refering to being in my 30s. I’m unapologetic of my faith now. I don’t feel the need to agree with everybody or fit in. It is very freeing.

  2. Oh Margaret. Me too (down to my belly button being strictly off limits for cuddling/tickling kids or husband)! I love this post so much!

  3. Thank you for this article, Margaret. So tender and true. It was such a great way to start the day!!

  4. Being comfortable in our own skin does not come easy, does it? I have been on an amazing journey the last 3 years, to discover who I am, in the midst of brokenness and heartache. I can stand in confidence that all of those pieces are what makes me uniquely me. God must have known what he was doing. Thank you for a great reminder! I cannot wait to read Wonderstruck!

  5. Thank you for a wonderful and meaningful read. To love oneself is to hug God.

  6. This blog entry is so needed for me right now. I am certainly someone who doesn’t seem to fit anywhere. Everyone is unique, but it seems like being the center of a group or lifestyle almost seems to be a talent for people, or because we fit in some areas– Christian, a political group or otherwise, it seems there are other prescribed ideologies that go hand in hand. But I’ve never been like that– my opinions are all over the place and I just don’t seem to fit in anywhere and never had. I enjoy being different in some ways but in other ways its very isolating. I compare my life to that of my friends and I wonder if I’m doing something wrong– they seem to have hit the “milestones” in their lives and I’m left behind. Then again, one of my “milestones” was living abroad, which was never one of theirs– go figure.

    So thank you for writing this and it’s good to see someone with a different story go on to be “successful”– a good relationship with God, a fulfilling ministry and career (I hope!), and a loving family. God bless.

    • Amy,

      Living a “different” story or one that doesn’t follow the same pattern and arch has it’s challenges, but is also so rewarding…the vistas are incredible, wouldn’t you agree, at times?

  7. Thank you so much Margaret for sharing this . I rarely feel like I fit in with most people. All my life I have been painfully shy and socially awkward and most people don’t recognize this or know how to relate to me. They don’t see the real me. Many think I’m standoffish . I have reached the 50 year mark and I have gotten a little better and I don’t worry quite as much about what people will think of me. But it is still hard. You are such an approachable and wonderful person and I love you more and more as I get to know you better. Thank you so much for your ministry

  8. I need to do #3 more – working on it!
    Thanks for this :)

  9. I love this! Your tips resonate with my heart and how He’s been working this self peace and acceptance in me.

  10. Until I found Christ I was not comfortable who I was. I was angry, frustrated, shy and lost. Alone but with others. Didn’t understand my purpose. I love being me now. I love being able to speak God’s word and the truth is real to me. I can speak in front of others when I have God’s backing. I can do something when I feel ill because I know He is with me.
    Great post. Finding Jesus changes everything. Wonderstruck again. :)
    Blessings,
    Jan

    • Jan,
      Isn’t it amazing how things shift when we come to terms with the fact the God–ultimate Author, Poet, Sculptor, Designer, Architect formed us. One more reason to #LIVEWONDERSTRUCK.

  11. Margaret, this is an outstanding post! I appreciate what your remarks about your own story and life. Could I ever resonate with some of your remarks about your own habits, characteristics, and being comfortable with who you are!

    I appreciate your voice and your ministry. This post only increases my respect and appreciation.

    • Jim,
      You are oh so kind. Grateful the piece connected. I think sometimes people think of this as a female issue, but this isn’t about gender, this is about humanity–everyone, male, female, young old, every background and socioeconomic–every, everyone coming to terms with the beauty God fashioned them.

  12. I have always known i was different because my choices didn’t seem like the norm. I used to let it define me. I used to just be quiet about it, and people just seemed to accept that I didn’t want what they thought I should want. Now I find it was just my timing was different so it’s hard to communicate that I have modified my path. That’s what I need to be comfortable with now. Thanks for your words. I think I’ll be using a gift card for your book.

  13. I can so relate to this Margaret. I was always different from everyone. I never felt like I was loved, or like I belonged. I have found that i can’t fix me, but I can learn to accept me. I have been learning to be more comfortable in my skin. I have discovered that I can’t do life alone, it takes community and it takes God. You have been a real help to me. My favorite quote is “When we hold back our stories, we tether the proclamations of redemption, transformation, and freedom. When we don’t share our stories, someone else is denied the opportunity to find solace in knowing they’re not alone.” Thank you for encouraging me to write. May God richly bless you and Leif.

  14. Thank you for writing this! Loved Scouting the Divine and can’t wait to read Wonderstruck!

  15. I appreciated reading this because I became an oddity at 33 yrs old, which was very traumatic. I had a brain tumor on the nerve of my right ear. Called an Acoustic Neuroma. Rare. Went to different Drs for about 7 years but always got misdiagnosed til it got the size of an orange. Anyway, the operation caused facial paralysis and deafness in that ear. Guess what? New life problem to deal with. Big one. After that I never felt good about being with people and especially hated being introduced to new ones. The paralysis always caused people to stare. Some ask me what happened to my face. All kinds of awkwardness. No picture taking for sure either. Anyway, it’s been 36 years Ive been this way and it doesnt bother me much anymore. I am more comfortable in my skin now. Took a long long time. Only 1 out of 100,000 people have this tumor. Now you cant help but wonder how come it was you. Just can’t help it.

  16. It would be a very boring world if God did not create us to be different! I have lived long enough to appreciate the ‘quirkiness’ in others and love it. Finding Christ and being filled with His Spirit is the life-changing, as well as the life accepting moment in any Christians life because with that realization comes the knowledge that we are His child who He has created and placed in this world. Margaret, I am truly thankful that God has created you and because of your amazing journey with Him you have gifted each of us with your writings. You are an amazing young woman who has touched my heart in so many ways so I pray that you continue to share your colourful journey with us.

  17. Dear Margaret,
    I love your authenticity and vulnerability. Thank you for sharing from you heart and soul.
    I appreciate your blog so much.
    I truly am amazed that you actually respond to each person who posts. That’s indeed rare.
    Thank you from my heart to yours. My husband and I have been in leadership for 40 years and God has us on the most amazing journey as we minister stateside and around the world. To God be the glory and blessings to you! I can’t wait to meet you this side of glory or in glory!
    Rejoicing,
    Donna

  18. In my 56th year I am still learning to be comfortable in my own skin… and getting closer to reaching that goal, by the grace of God! Thank you for your transparency. I am learning to embrace my uniqueness… why is it always so easy to celebrate the uniqueness of others while struggling with our own??? I’m going to read this post a few more times. It’s another encouragement on the road to self-acceptance, and dare I say it, celebration! :o)

    • Ronda,
      “why is it always so easy to celebrate the uniqueness of others while struggling with our own”–great question! and one I think we are all still wrestling with from time to time

  19. “Cooking is a lot like creating art.” I’m with you, girl. And grateful for all the ways you bring more creativity to our lives. Looking forward to God-sized dreaming with you in 2013! :)

  20. Five fabulous points. Love the idea of deep friendship defining us. Beautiful.

  21. thank you so much this. so timely for me and extremely encouraging.

  22. I am so very grateful God made you! Thank you for living His call on your life, comfortable or not. You are a gift! I will be sharing this wonderful post with many precious friends who need to know these important keys. Some I am doing well, some… not so much. Yay for progress and process! God bless you!

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