I asked myself last night, how am I different away from OSP [Orlando Summer Project]? This was the result.
I decided my first week here that I would strive to be CJ, regardless of circumstance. It can be a real temptation for me to seek attention and become a people pleaser by doing whatever is “cool” to a particular group. But I reminded myself that acceptance isn’t based on these people – and if they didn’t like me, I would leave them in August anyway.
What I found instead is that people do like me. They’ve seen me at my silliest and first thing in the morning. We’ve shared secrets and inside jokes. They’ve known me with my make up stripped away and my sins exposed. Through it all, they remain my friends.
So what’s different here? I think it’s the atmosphere, at least in part. This isn’t the “real world.” I haven’t had to deal with people arguing over who has the most time with me. Habits and attitudes of these people encourage me; at school, that’s not always so. They don’t see how I react to professors and academic challenges. I don’t have my own time and space here; they don’t know the me who is quiet.
That’s okay. I’m constantly in flux. The challenges and blessings I encountered at Alabama shaped who I am. Likewise, the weeks I’m spending in Orlando are refining me in other ways. Thoreau said, “We are constantly invited to become who we are.” I pray that’s what I am always doing.
When I leave this city in a few weeks, I’ll take pieces of these people with me. Some of that may be in words or gestures, but some may be in attitude or character. I’m not sure what those changes will be, but this I know: the woman I am on OSP is not the woman I’ll be in Birmingham is not the woman I’ll be for the rest of my life. My prayer is only that each development will make me more like Jesus.