rebelling against low expectations

When What We Do Becomes Who We Are


“What is the greatest question teens are facing today?”

I heard the question posed as a speech prompt, and as I sat in the audience, I instantly thought of my answer: “Who am I?”

Who are you? Do you know the answer?

Our society is experiencing an identity crisis. We try to find our worth in everything under the sun: beauty, family, social status, skills, personality, success, social media, friends, etc.

Especially teenagers. We are trying to build the foundation for the rest of our lives. We experiment and explore. We’re searching for answers, looking for that one thing to define us, that makes us unique and special. But the world’s answers come up short.

We want to know: Do I matter? Where is my worth? Who am I?

Growing up in a Christian home, I had been taught that I should find my identity in Christ. Even so, I still felt good about myself when I did good and bad about myself when I did bad. The concept of finding my identity in Christ was familiar, but I didn’t understand how to apply it to my heart and emotions in day-to-day life.

Although I technically knew the right answers, this Fall it became clear to me that I was trying to find my identity in the wrong place.

Finding Identity in My Performance

During the first semester, I was preparing for a violin audition known for its intense competition. I had no idea how I would stack up. I could be the best, but I feared I would be the worst. I found myself thinking that failure would be humiliating. That I would be a disappointment.

Cue tons of pressure, all of it coming from myself. I focused on my flaws until they were all I could see. I began to doubt that my preparation could ever be enough. I became obsessed with practicing, thinking that was the only way to ensure success.

People close to me started to ask if I was putting too much pressure on myself. I shrugged and said, “I don’t think so.” That was my honest answer. I didn’t think I was. I couldn’t articulate what was going on in my heart.

But, if that was true, why was I so stressed? My mentality was out of whack, and many practices and lessons ended in tears. I was emotional and exhausted.

At this point, I had dedicated hours and hours to practicing. I insisted the reward would be worth it. I had too much invested to pull out of the competition.

During lunch, about a week before my audition, my mom asked how I was doing, and I promptly broke down in tears. My mom said, “The outcome of this competition won’t make us love you any more or any less. You do know that, right?”

I nodded, but something in my heart recoiled. Slowly, painfully, the truth became clear to me. I was putting so much emphasis on this competition that I was beginning to attach my worth to it.

I had an identity issue.

Combatting the Lies with Truth

Through this competition, I saw my insecurities and pride. I had an option: shrug it off again (which wasn’t working, by the way) or fight those lies and feelings with truth. I didn’t– couldn’t– do this alone. I had a long, tearful conversation with my mom. Actually, we had several. I had a revealing conversation with my violin teacher. They both helped me see what was going on in my heart.

Somewhere along the line, I had started to believe the lie that playing the violin is not just something I do, but it is who I am. That doing well adds to my worth, and doing badly detracts from it. I believed the lie that what I do defines who I am.

Friend, if you believe this lie today, let me gently remind you: God loves you entirely outside of anything you can or cannot accomplish. If you trust in Christ as your Savior, it doesn’t matter what the world says; you are a beloved child, and your accomplishments (or lack thereof) have nothing to do with it.

A skill will always be imperfect because we are human. When we base our identity on anything less than Christ, we will always end up feeling inferior, worthless, and empty. We will forever search for more. We will be trapped in anxiety, bound by doubts, and easy prey to temptation.

At the request of my violin teacher, I made a list of things to tell myself on the day of the competition. Some of those reminders were:

I am loved, regardless of how this goes. God is in control of the outcome. This audition does not define me, my identity is found only in Christ. I play for the glory of God, not for the glory of Brittney.

I don’t know what draws out insecurities for you, but identity issues must be combated with truth. Whatever your skills are, whatever the accompanying fears, let me remind you that, in Christ, you are loved, cherished, chosen, and forgiven; all outside of your talents or abilities (Ephesians 1-2).

While the world clings to achievements, riches, and success for identity, we can look beyond the superficial and find our worth in Christ.

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About the author

Brittney Brianne

is a teenager, Jesus-follower, book fanatic, and– as you’ve probably picked up– writer. She loves coffee, friends, jamming on guitar, and playing violin. She fell in love with writing because of its power to weave truth and beauty together. You can find more of her writing on her blog, This Reader’s Thoughts.


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  • Thank you for this article, it is so encouraging to know, that other people struggle with the same things I do. I play the piano, but due to circumstances, I began to focus on my mistakes and soon began to hate playing. This really helped me this week. Thank you so much, Brittney!

    • Thank you, Kathrine. You are definitely not alone in that struggle! I’m glad that this article was encouraging to you!

  • Girl – this is touched me enough to make me comment the first time in almost four years are reading the Reb. Not only can I relate almost identically to the music problems, but it can go so much further than that, too. This was an excellent and needed reminder. I’ve fallen back in love with playing piano, luckily…still definitely have other spots in this area to work on.

    • Thank you, Victoria! I’m happy that this article reminded you of truth. (And I’m also glad that you love piano again– keep at it!)

  • Thank you so much for this article today. I have been having difficulty not trying to perfect my writing. Oh when I was younger and not as much of an adult as I am now, it was so much easier to wonder what God thought of me instead. Something has got to teach me that the question is still the most urgent one in my life to answer, or one of them.

    I had to smile a bit at your life example because I’m writing about a star violinist with her own set of people-pleasing problems.

    • Ah, yes, writing is another area where I can struggle with identity. There are times that I struggle more than other times, kind of like what you’re saying. Isn’t it cool, though, how God keeps teaching us throughout life. He helps us grow in every season!
      Ooh, sounds like a neat story! 🙂

  • This was an amazing article so beautifully written! Your story is very relatable and impactful. Thank you for sharing at with us and reminding us of the truth!

  • Hey Brittney! I really liked your artical, I thought it was super well written and so filled with truth! I can really relate to that! For a lot of years I put my worth in being a “Christian”, and doing all the “Christian” things, like going to church and youth and camp, instead of putting my worth in being a God Lover and God’s child. I know that’s not something like violin, but hopefully that makes a little sense.
    Anyways, thank you for that, that message is super encouraging!!

    • Hey, Caiti! Thank you!
      Oh, I can totally relate to that struggle! It’s so easy to fall into that way of thinking instead of finding our identity in Christ.
      I’m glad it was encouraging. Thank you for your comment!

rebelling against low expectations

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