I was watching a movie the other day and something was said that really resonated with me. As Justin and I got out of our seats of the theatre and headed back to our car, the line kept repeating itself over and over again in my head.
“If you’re nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it.”
If you’re a Marvel movie fan, you might be able to guess the movie we were seeing that day. This message rises above the adventure plot line and comic book characters, though. This particular story was about a guy who wasn’t quite sure who he was meant to be yet, but he had an idea of what that might be because of a unique opportunity presented to him to do some really cool things, meet some really cool people, and perhaps the most vital detail, feel important. He had a literal suit he could put on, be someone he wanted to be, and it kind of made all of his other insecurities melt away. When he was in the suit, he felt like he mattered. He felt like he was who he was truly meant to be. But the suit came with a price, and it was extremely tempting for him to not lose sight of who he was without it.
I may not put on a literal suit every day, but I think a lot of us have our own identities we hide behind when we’re feeling a little insecure about ourselves. For some of us, we hide behind that identity every day.
When I’m feeling a little left out or not admired enough, I slip into my traveling full-time creative business owner suit. It’s easy and fun to pretend like that’s who I am, all of the time. But it’s not. That’s just my job. I only do it for so many hours a day, and most of those hours are spent editing at my desk in my dad’s basement, alone. But it’s incredibly easy to make this job look as glamorous as I want to, and sometimes it can be all too easy to start to believe that’s what makes me who I am, that this title and this role are what give my life worth and meaning.
If something similar in your life has already come to mind, that’s your suit. The role you slip into when you scroll past someone else’s post doing something really cool and really fun while you’re sitting in your PJ’s at home on the couch so you start to feel… a little bit less than. Where does your mind go then? What is it you look to for value and reassurance and security in that moment of self-doubt?
Sometimes, those moments of self-doubt become more than moments. They become minutes… then hours… then days… and before we know it, we have permanently zipped ourselves into this suit and ripped off the clasps. We become this identity, this role, this job, this idea of what we want ourselves to be in order to feel presentable and good enough to the world. And when that’s happened and any sort of threat to this life and any sort of reminder that it’s just a suit throws us off balance, puts us on the defensive, and has us ready to argue that We. Are. The. Suit. and nobody can take it from us.
“If you’re nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it.”
I think of the times when I’ve been most hurt by people in my industry. Those times have been when those people had fully molded into this identity of becoming their business. I’m sure you’ve experienced that at some point, too, with someone in your life. Nothing can get in the way of what they want for their business/life, and they’ll step on your toes if they have to if it means reaching the next rung in the ladder. It sucks. It’s hurtful, it feels demeaning, and you wonder if you can trust people like that ever again after they’ve hurt you once for something that seems so… temporary. Surely business accomplishments can’t mean more than people, right?
When you start to believe you’re nothing without them, then yes, they do.
“If you’re nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it.” You shouldn’t have it because you if you believe you’re nothing without it, it can become awfully easy to hurt people when there’s even the smallest threat, doubt, or inkling that you might have it taken away. That could be as harmless as somebody accomplishing something for their own business or in their own job, and for some reason, their success feels like a threat to yours. And then we find ourselves scrolling through the Photos app trying to select the perfect next Instagram or Facebook post to remind the world that we are important, that we are smart, that we matter. This is such an unhealthy way to live, and we need to break the habit of hiding behind the identity we’ve created for ourselves.
I’ve started attempting to do this new thing where every time I feel insecure, I remind myself that, well, I’m really not all that special. Yep… stick with me here. I remind myself, “Megan, you’re in your pajamas and it’s 2:30pm on a Tuesday afternoon. You work from home and millions of other people do, too. They probably actually get dressed every morning, so maybe that’s the first thing you need to work on rather than posting something ‘impressive’ Instagram today.” I remind myself of why I’m not all that great in moments of not feeling all that great, and you know what? It works better than puffing myself up and repeating “You’re amazing, Megan!” over and over again. Because if I take that approach and start to remind myself of all the reasons why I measure up, why I’m awesome, why my business is so spectacular… I start to fall down a rabbit hole of placing my identity and worth in all of these measurable, material, worldly things that look an awful lot like the suit I put on when I’m feeling insecure. And the suit can be fun, it can be exciting and healthy, even, but when I get into the habit of putting it on every single day and trusting in the security of that suit to sustain me and keep me feeling fulfilled… then I’m headed down a one-way track that ends up someplace not so good.
If I’m nothing without “THE SUIT,” I stop being able to see life and people outside of that filter. If my SUIT is the greatest thing about my life, I will inevitably start to sacrifice things or people that should be more important… and one day I’ll look around, see all these great accomplishments I was able to achieve, but I’ll be standing alone. And I’ll wish I could go back to the beginning, but it won’t happen. I’ll reap the rewards of all my hard work, all of the great achievements I had in my suit, even if there’s no one else there to celebrate with me.
How I make people feel really matters. How you make people feel on this journey to where you want to be really, really matters. Don’t make decisions based on wanting “the best” for your job, your life, your business if it means hurting someone else in the process by taking FROM them, taking advantage OF them, or making them look stupid. That’s never okay, and it’s never worth whatever you might gain from your actions if it means you’re hurting people in the process.
When you believe you’re nothing without the suit, it’s easy to see other people as nothing without it, too.
Stay humble and kind, and every now and then, take some time to step out of “The Suit.” I’m sure you know by now exactly what it looks like and when you feel your most secure inside of it. Step out of the suit and into the person you are when everything else is stripped away and it’s just you and your maker. Who you are then is who you really are in the depths of your heart. Embrace that and live from that place. That place of goodness, selflessness, inner peace, harmony, and so much joy. When you live from that place, you see people at their best, you put others before yourself, and you trust that no matter what, things will work out in the end… even when you give up that opportunity for this person, send business to your competitor, or let someone else take your place at the table. The suit begins to look awfully fragile when you see it standing next to the creator of the world.
I am small and so unimportant, but the great things I can accomplish in this life are those which He has called me to do. I don’t always know exactly what that is, but I know what it ISN’T: living in a suit or identity of my own making… and it will never be anything that calls me to hurt someone else or betray their trust.
Doing business as a follower of Christ looks quite different than how the world does business sometimes. Some choices you make might not make any sense to anyone else because sometimes, it will be the opposite of profit and growth. You’ll turn down thousands of dollars if making that money meant compromising your values. Whatever those inner values are, that is up to you to decide… I know what it looks like for me to say no to the opportunity to grow if it meant taking advantage of someone else, telling a little white lie, or going behind someone’s back to do something in secret, hoping they never find out about it.
I can walk away from those things because I know that “The Suit” for me is just how I make my money. It’s not my end all, be all in life and if I lost my business tomorrow, I’d be just fine because I would know in my heart of hearts that the Lord has something meant for my good. If he had me sweeping floors or making cups of coffee for the rest of my life, I would know that it was so I could be the best version of myself in this world during the short time I’m here. There’s so much promise and reassurance that comes with giving up “The Suit” and trading it in for something better.