By Jean Elizabeth Miles
Distinguished Young Woman of Alabama for 2013
There she is. The straight A student. The girl in every club and president of most. The one that is not only in the band, but is also editor of the yearbook. All the teachers love her, but the students just pick on her over-achieving tendencies. She seems to be friends with everyone, even the ones no one wants to be friends with. Yes, I’m sure you all know a girl like that. Maybe you graduated with her, or you sit next to her in History class. But I didn’t, because, you guessed it, I was her. I was the nerd that was picked on (all in fun, of course) if I made anything less than a perfect score. I filled my spare time with extra-curricular activities and organizations and strove for leadership roles whenever I possibly could. This is who I was for four years of my life. This is how I was defined.
Jump forward six months from graduation and leaving all of that behind, to the present day, where that over-achieving girl just finished her first semester of college. My grades were good, but trust me, they were not perfect. My professors seemed to like me, if they knew my name. The extracurriculars and organizations were there, but who had time to do them with all the studying to be done! Yes, I said studying… something I’ve never done before. Needless to say, all of those things that used to define me are no longer there. This brings me to the question – Who am I? Not to my friends from high school, not to my fellow Auburn students, and not even to my family, but in the grand scene of life, who am I?
Circumstances, hobbies, jobs, grades, and friends seem to be the world’s standards of measuring who you are. Those things, while they can be fun and temporarily satisfying, are not who you are, they’re just what you do. Life is about so much more than making an A or winning a game. This has become even more apparent to me as I go through my first year of college. I am only described, not defined by these meaningless things.
We still haven’t answered the important question… Who am I? Who are you? I know who I am. I am the child of the one true King. I am created for a purpose. I am enough. I am like no one else. I am me. The same goes for you. You are the one and only, amazing, talented, intelligent, incredible you. Own it! To borrow a quote from the movie The Help, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself. Don’t worry about the world’s standards of perfection and their definition of who you should be. They don’t define you. You have a special purpose, an individual purpose only you can accomplish. The only way to accomplish it, though, is if you live everyday knowing that you are awesome! Be-YOU-tiful!!!
Jean Elizabeth Miles is a college freshman at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama majoring in Civil Engineering. Originally from Rehobeth, AlabamaJean Elizabeth was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Alabama for 2013. Learn more about Jean Elizabeth here!
  • D Powell

    24th Jan 2014 at 20:14

    Very well said and written, Jean Elizabeth! Letting themselves BE themselves is often a very real issue for high achieving young women and men (like those in the DYW program). But it is often hard to describe, and sometimes considered immodest to even discuss. Thanks for addressing this issue with your usual aplomb and heart!

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