GUEST BLOG: How labels define us, Chelsea Pumala, A class of 2016 Cameron High School Alumni {Northwest Wisconsin Senior Portrait Photographer, Rice Lake, WI}

HOW LABELS DEFINE US

When I started the Senior Model program over a year ago now, I had some thoughts and ideas of what I wanted to do and how I wanted it to run.  I didn’t have the details worked out, but I trusted that somehow, someway it would all come together. Little did I know how much this girl would bless my life and touch my heart.

 

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She has pushed me, challenged me and encouraged me to become a better person and to keep moving forward.  I am so incredibly honored to walk through life with her and call her my friend.  As I’ve learned and grown myself this past year, I have really learned the power of story.  People are able to connect when they feel like they can relate and share some sort of common ground.  When we are brave enough to come forward and share our stories, we give others the freedom  to own and share theirs as well.  When we are able to own them and go as far as to share them, we can begin to heal from them or use our stories to propel us or others forward.

Chelsea has had some experiences in her young life that have shaped her into the beautiful person that she is.  I asked her to share a part of her story in hopes that maybe you will be able to connect with it and learn too….

Here is Chelsea’s story….

Our different experiences have changed us, and shaped us, into who we want to become.

Labels. Words. Defining.

Three words, three powerful meanings. I believe EVERYONE, at least once in their life, has had something said to them that changes them. That labels you in your own eyes. . .here is my story.

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Freshmen year I had a girl tell me I was too nice and it was annoying. Silly right? Wouldn’t someone take that as a compliment being nice? I wish I would have. However, as a girl still trying, wanting, to feel like she fits in, it meant more than you can imagine. I started to think. Maybe, just maybe, if I start being a little “devious” these girls will like me more. I started swearing more. Saying hurtful things to others—being sarcastic but in ways that I was making fun of others. Being rude to my Mom and Dad. At first, these ways were odd to me. However, before I knew it, these once “strange ways” became second nature to me. I changed before I even recognized it. Honestly, I can’t even tell you when I changed. It happens so fast that you don’t realize what you have done until you are way past what you used to be.

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At this point, I was starting to fit in. I was invited to more things and the girls that I called “friends” seemed to talk and like me more. But, I didn’t like me. I became an angry person inside—I was frustrated at things that used to be just simple problems. I was overwhelmed. I was sad. Confused. Constantly, I worried. Am I saying the right things? Do I look okay? Did I do something wrong? Why are they making that face? Are they ignoring me? Are they mad at me? What did I do? Can I make it better? What will they think if I say this? Do you like this? Are you sure? You’re not lying, right? I hope they like me…Worry, worry, worry. This was my brain. I was so worried about what others thought about me that I forgot about me. I had NO CONFIDENCE. People, THIS IS NOT A WAY TO LIVE. You will have no peace if you are not being yourself and constantly worrying about other people is so exhausting. I will be the first to say it (well technically, one of many to say it). You will NOT make everyone happy. It just can’t be done so quit worrying about it. Yes, I know what you are thinking, easier said than done. I understand. Been there, done that, still working on it.

 

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It took me a couple years to get back on track with myself. To be happy with myself and not worry about others. Eventually, I was able to put me before others. Next question…how? It wasn’t easy but having a wonderful support group is definitely a good way to start. I got lucky. I was in a “Role Model” senior rep photography group that was so encouraging and they loved all of me—my flaws and all. So where can YOU find this group because I know you are all not going to be seniors. Faith, find your faith (this was a HUGE part of my recovery in loving who I am). Read the bible. Find a church to go to. Get involved in the church and various church groups. I know, it can be kind of scary. I was scared. I used to go to church by myself and sit in the wayyy back corner (I still go to church by myself but I’m more daring now and sit towards the middle/front!) For some, you may feel like you don’t think God can love you and forgive you after what you have done. YES, YES he can and I know for certain he will. God loves you—your flaws and all. Others may feel regular “church people” are so quick to judge. You feel you will be judged more sitting in a pew at church than if you sit on a stool at a bar. Sadly, some churches are like that…my advice…don’t go to that church. If after all of this you are still afraid to go to church but want to get involved somehow and don’t know where to start, get the Red Cedar Church app. Red Cedar is the church I go to and you can find all the sermons ever given there. I love this church. One of my favorite parts of this church is many of the leaders have walked a life away from Christ. I’m not saying they lied to their parents walked away from Christ, but they were into drugs, some worshiped Satan at one point, others in abusive relationship. . .not your “normal” leaders, right? That is perfect for me. No one is perfect and at Red Cedar, no one is expected to be.

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I’m not going to push belief in the Lord on you because I am not like that. I will not make you believe in the savior because ONLY YOU can do that. What I can do is spread the word of our Lord. I can go to church and sing and raise my hands in the air. I can, and will, tell you that my life has changed for the better after choosing a life through Jesus. I feel at peace with myself. I worry about myself in the eyes of GOD, not my so called “friends” that call me annoying because I’m too nice. When you choose to live a life through our Lord, the right people will stay your friends and that’s who should matter.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

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Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how far I have come and who I was. But I don’t regret changing. In fact, I’m thankful. If I didn’t change my freshmen year of high school, I would not be on the path I am today. I would not have such loving friends that support me through my good and bad days. I would not have the confidence and peace in myself. I can actually make decisions without needing someone else’s opinion. It took me having to become someone I didn’t like to realize that I liked the “too nice” me, and I am OKAY with that and I know God likes that version of me better, too.

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Labels. Words. Defining.

They can change us, but they don’t have shape our lives forever. Find the light. Find your light. Be a light. Make a difference in the lives of others.

Smile On Forever and Always.

 

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