Editor’s Note: Programs associate Amanda Saunders shares how pushing past the fear of how we are perceived by others leads to true freedom and lived out faith in God’s plan. 

It seems that when you enter into adulthood everything becomes about how you are perceived by others. There is a fear of not living up to society’s standards. The pressure of having the perfect life; the well-decorated house, the planned out career path, and the flawless children can be overwhelming.

We are taught that taking time off and admitting we’re a human who needs a break is a sign of weakness. The fear of being viewed as “less than” keeps each of us from choosing ourselves. Out of all of the priorities in life, self-care usually falls to the bottom of the list for me.  I have found myself guilty of getting caught up in the busyness of life, afraid that I will fall behind, and skipping routines and activities that keep me grounded.

At the beginning of Advent I decided to give myself permission to be human and do more of those things that ground me. I created a list of items that contribute to my self care: spending intentional time with my community, attending daily mass, reading a book, and participating in a daily devotional.

I’ll be honest, I have not completely followed through on this list.  Some days, it is easier for me to hit the snooze button than attend early Mass, watch Netflix instead of read, and claim to be too busy/tired to spend time with my community.

But the days that I do get out of bed and start my day with Mass, I find that my head is clearer. When I decide to read and not passively watch a movie, I find myself being moved by the words. When I choose to spend that time with my community, I find myself energized by the love that comes from those relationships.

It is in those moments that I am truly who God made me to be. When I allow myself to choose me, I am centering myself to be a more authentic version of myself.

Advent is about preparing ourselves for the coming of the Lord. The Lord wants the best version of ourselves. He doesn’t care if you are exuding a perfect persona on the outside; it is the love and peace on the inside that matters.

I challenge each of you to choose yourself today. Do something that will help you be the best version of you without fear of what others think.

Reflection question: What in your life holds you back from being the best you? What things attribute to your self-care?