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Permission to Play Again
What have you sacrificed in order to fit in?
This week our staff held a pickleball tournament instead of our monthly staff meeting. We reserved the courts, assigned the round-robin style teams, and had our resident grill master take care of the bbq lunch. Since I’m on the team that plans and executes these events, I normally don’t get to participate. But since someone had to bow out, they needed a sub.
It might not sound like a big deal.
Stretch a little.
Grab a paddle.
Hit the court.
But for me…this was a powerful moment.
Photobox Secrets Revealed
A few years ago, our son brought home a box of family photos from my mom’s house. They had gone through them together at her house and she thought the rest of the family might enjoy them.
He sat the flowered photo box on the living room sofa and removed the lid, revealing a treasure trove of family memories spanning generations. Black and white images of relatives from a simpler time gathered in front of a modest farmhouse. Pictures of my mom from childhood through college. Vacations and reunions.
We laughed and I told stories as we sifted through the hand-held memories, thankful someone (probably my grandma) had been wise enough to record names and dates on the backs.
Soon the box gave up secrets, so long tucked away that I’d forgotten they ever existed. Secrets about me and the story of how and when and why I began to hide myself away in my own box.
This photo opened my own Pandora’s box.
When I saw it, I immediately remembered the place, but not the moment. However, as I stared at little-girl-me, it all started to come back.
As a little girl, I loved being outside in the summer - riding my bike around the neighborhood, swinging as high as possible on my metal backyard swing set, and swimming at the local pool.
“So why did you stop?”
The simple answer: I stopped enjoying outdoor activities when I realized too much time in the summer sun made my skin too dark. Darker skin meant I’d face hurtful comments, teasing and questions when school started again in the fall, and I returned several shades darker than when I’d left in the spring.
“But tans fade.”
Yes, most do. But the deeper my skin grew over those summer months, the longer it took for it to fade. I tried everything but learned no amount of scrubbing or praying lightens a person once they’ve been kissed by the sun as long as I had.
So as I got older, I learned to stay inside. To shield myself with long sleeves and pants. To protect my chemically straightened straight hair from sweat and moisture so the frizz and curls wouldn’t show.
I learned to sacrifice.
I learned to hide.
I learned to conform.
Funny how the memory works. Until I saw that picture, I’d completely forgotten how much I once loved being outside. It had been over thirty years since I’d felt the sun on my face and joy at the same time! My husband and kids only knew the Torrie who avoided outdoor activities and complained about heat and humidity (ok, I still don’t like humidity, but who does, right?!)
I’d lived this way for so long, I forgot another way was even an option.
But something happened as I stared at the photo…God began to nudge me to rediscover that little girl.
Permission to Play Again
Giving Little Torrie permission to play wasn’t easy. Old habits and mindsets die hard.
But I started. One opportunity at a time. And since we live in Las Vegas, I had plenty of opportunities to get started right away!
I listened when my husband encouraged me to just put my hair in a bun and join them to play volleyball in the park.
I fought against the urge to hide in the shade instead of jumping in the pool.
I traded my long sleeves and capris for t-shirts and shorts.
Little by little, I became comfortable with the outdoors again.
Fun in the Sun
There was a time, not so long ago, that the idea of organizing an outdoor activity like an all-staff pickleball tournament, would have been excruciating for me. I would have hated the entire idea all because it would force me to be outside. Regardless of the forecast, I would have worn long sleeves and jeans while trying my best to keep my hair from frizzing. During the event, I would have been frustrated and stressed, trying to find a shady place to hide while praying this whole thing would end soon.
But not this time!
This time, I looked forward to the event and enjoyed planning the details.
Like I mentioned, our team normally doesn’t participate in these events so that we’re free to handle all the of the day’s details. But since we had a spot to fill, I volunteered. Did you catch that? I VOLUNTEERED to play…in the sun…in short sleeves…messy bun and all! If that’s not growth, I don’t know what is!
I played a total of seven games. And although I didn’t win and my body has been sore for three days now, I had a blast laughing and making memories with my coworkers.
I asked a friend to capture this moment because I don’t want to forget what God has done, how he’s healing the broken places in me and redeeming them.
And how he’s inviting a little girl to play and experience joy again.
What have you sacrificed in order to fit in?
- A hobby you enjoyed because someone called you a “nerd”?
- Or maybe a sport you loved because you were once cut from a team.
- Or maybe you’ve sacrificed learning more about your culture and heritage because you were told you weren’t _________ enough to belong.
If so, can I encourage you?
Give yourself permission to experience those things again. Be brave enough to invite the little kid inside of you to come out of the box you’ve put him/her in, to laugh, play ,and feel joy again.
Or maybe you’re thinking, “I have no idea what I’ve sacrificed.”
If this is you, I encourage you - Pray. Ask God to show you if there are things you’ve set aside, things he created you to do or enjoy. If something comes to mind, allow yourself the space to welcome that back into your life.
I’m cheering for you!
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A Little Something Extra…
Each week, I like to share a little something extra, something I’ve found fun or helpful. It might be a post, book, podcast, tv show, movie, song, Bible verse…or something else I think you’ll enjoy.
May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.
You might notice more Asian-focused content in your social media feeds. If so, lean in. This is a great opportunity to learn about the history, culture, and experiences of the AAPI community.
If you’re unfamiliar with AAPI Heritage Month, this is the perfect time to learn. Here are a few easy ways to take the first step, even if you live in a less diverse community:
Watch - A documentary, tv show, or movie focusing on the AAPI experience. Find suggestions in my 2023 Family Movie Guide, emailed directly to you. Simply click the subscribe button below for your free copy.
Read - A memoir, non-fiction, or even a children’s book that celebrates the vastness of AAPI stories. My friend Tasha Jun’s memoir, Tell Me the Dream Again, launches on Tuesday (May 9) and walks through her story as a Korean American.
Follow - A new writing page or social media account. new accounts. Here are a few of my favorite AAPI accounts to follow. I’ve learned SO much from these incredible men and women, and I’m sure you will too. Some might be familiar from previous articles, while some you’ll learn about as the month continues.
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