Remaining Authentic

I am sitting. Arms wrapped around my sandy knees. The smell of salt, sunscreen and ocean tingle my nose. I can feel my body press into the beach towel below me, and the sand below that. 


I’m taking a break from the heat, sitting under the shade of an umbrella, watching friends play beach volleyball on the two courts in front of me.


There are people all around us. I can hear music playing from at least three different directions, including from one of our courts.


Everywhere I look there are tanned bodies standing at the ready waiting for another chance to hit the volleyball as it flies over the net and gets returned, to eventually hit the sand to shouts of both glee and dismay.


Its another Saturday afternoon and I am once again at my normal stomping grounds - the beach volleyball courts.


It’s amazing to think back and realize I only just joined this group a few months ago and many of my now friends were strangers just a few weeks ago.


I’m sitting in what I would call “my happy place”. I’m doing something I love and I know it. When I am at the courts I feel like I belong, like this is where I should be spending my Saturday.


I am outside, on the beach, with friends, laughing and talking in the sun, getting a tan and getting exercise (which I barely notice most days). This is my heaven. This is me being authentic to who I am, what I want and what makes me happy.


So when I walk away, saying my goodbyes, as the sun dips below the horizon, I glance behind me at the now empty nets standing in silent tribute to the chaos earlier in the day and I know that something is wrong.


The way I feel about volleyball is not the way I feel about the rest of my life. 


Something is off, and I know it.


It’s a gut feeling. A tug. A sense of unbalance. A sense of discontentment.


Remaining authentic to myself is hard.


To the outsider, my life looks great. I’m living in what has to be one of the most beautiful towns in the States, in a cute house, with an awesome roommate. I have a busy social life and active church life. I’m even working a full time job with cushy benefits.


Nothing is wrong with it. In fact, all of it is good, if not very good.


Yet something is amiss. At the gut level I know this without a shadow of a doubt.


So what is going on?


Some people may consider me to be the type that is too sensitive or too pensive. The kind of person who spends too much time in her head. A dreamer…


But is that a bad thing?


See the way I look at it is, we have one shot at life. Everyday is one day less. Every hour is an hour spent of this precious life. Personally, I want to use it to my utmost best ability. I want to take risks and live a life free of regrets. I want to follow my heart and calling.


And I know that where I am now is not it. I can feel my soul crying out to me to take a step, to make a change, to do something different - and I’m frustrated because I feel stuck. Stuck where I am. Stuck among the expectations of friends and family. And stuck in a spot that no one seems to really understand, no matter how hard I try to explain.


This struggle to be authentic remains.


And it’s hard.


Do I know what to do? Not really.


Right now I feel like I am waiting for something to change. For God to meet me and make those next steps clear. For some plan to materialize for the foreseeable future. 


But as of now, it remains a hazy picture.


So I continue. I press on with the feelings of discontent. Exploring different options but not making any decisions yet.


I know I won’t last much longer without something changing, but at the same time I don’t know what to do next. So I wait.


And waiting is hard.


I’m searching for that sense of purpose and belonging in my entire life, not just one aspect of it. This is something I continue to seek with full honesty and heart.


When I find it, I will know.


I found it last year when I worked alongside the Once in Cape Town team in South Africa, until my visa pulled me away.


So I know what it should feel like - and it's just not here in this current moment yet.


So while I wait, I continue to search, read, discover, dream and press on through the day to day.


Because I know that to remain authentic to myself is one of the most important things I am striving for and I will continue to fight for it no longer how long it takes to find again.


Have you struggled with remaining authentic? What did you do? Have you had seasons of waiting? How did you get through it?