and not a second rate version of someone else.”
~ Judy Garland
A couple months ago, I watched the series finale of Chuck. It featured several flashbacks, and one thing I noticed – even through the sappy tears I couldn’t hold back – was how much better Zachary Levi looks with short hair (as opposed to the floppy mess of earlier seasons). But a haircut wasn’t the only thing that made Chuck more attractive.
And I’m not [just] referring to our discovery that Chuck (a.k.a., Flynn Rider) can SING. (Or his discovery of black t-shirts, which really are my favorite.)
As the seasons went on, Chuck got cuter as he became more himself. When the show began, we were introduced to a character whose life and career have taken a few detours, and, honestly, he’s kind of lost. He doesn’t really know who he is, what he wants to do, where he wants to go, or how (or IF) he can get there.
Over time, though, Chuck realized that he was uniquely qualified to serve his country as a spy (albeit one who doesn’t shoot people), and he really did become more attractive. It’s no surprise, then, that at the same time he became more himself, he won the respect of his colleagues and superiors and, you know, got the girl.
It’s not really about what Chuck looks like, though. (Really, did you think I was that shallow?) Chuck’s life turned around when he remembered who he was – what he was good at, what he stood for, who he was. And even though the answers to those questions revealed him to be a sentimental hero wannabe and computer hacker who loves Star Wars but hates guns – which, by most accounts, is crazy nerdy – embracing that identity transformed a geek working in retail to an actual superhero saving the world.
I started thinking about this in an episode a few weeks before the finale, when Chuck had to hack into some fancy computer system for a mission. Apparently in his pre-Intersect and possibly pre-Buy More life, Chuck was quite the hacker, even known as “The Pirahna.”
~ Chuck Bartowski
As his best friend and wife looked on, Chuck dove into the assignment and remembered just how good he was at manipulating computer systems. And even though his goofy hacker routine involved jelly beans, “thinking juice” (aka, whole bottles of wine) and slacker clothes, you could easily see that Sarah [Chuck’s wife and super-hot super-spy] loved seeing him in his element.
(She probably also likes black t-shirts, but that is another issue altogether.)
All of this got me thinking about our true selves, hidden or forgotten talents, and – don’t hate me – Oprah. See, I’m not a big Oprah fan. And I don’t know why I watched her show a few years ago or why one comment she made has stuck with me all this time. But as she talked about meeting with an old friend, she said that she asked the old friend if she (Oprah) had changed in the years since they’d been together. The friend said she had, that Oprah had become more herself.
I’ve thought about that so many times since watching that show. If there’s one thing I want to do more than anything, it’s become the person God wants me to be. I want to become more myself.
I don’t mean that I want to find myself or create an identity (or, *shudder*, a personal brand). I actually think becoming more myself is more about remembering who I was before education, relationships and life piled labels, assumptions and masks onto my true self.
Jon Acuff describes it this way in Quitter: “When you come to your dream job, your thing, it is rarely a first encounter. It’s usually a reunion. So instead of setting out to discover this thing you love doing, you’ve got to change your thinking and set out to recover it, maybe even rescue it.”
Is there something you used to love doing?
Has there been a time when you felt more yourself, more alive?
Do you remember people pointing out something you were good at?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Is there something that makes you super nerdy – like Chuck – but more your beautiful self?
These are the kind of questions I’ve been asking myself lately. They’re hard questions, but kind of fun, too. I’ve been remembering months spent in a job that I couldn’t believe I got paid for. I’ve taken notice of the projects that, even under the pressure of a deadline, make me smile. I’ve thought about a middle school civics lesson about activism and volunteering and chickens.
I’m still doing some thinking. What about you? What did you want to be when you grew up?
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Mary, I love this! I agree about Chuck’s transformation. He grew in confidence in who he was and what his talents were- even though they lay outside of anything he’d envisioned before. This has far reaching implications for us, especially when it comes to faith and becoming the people God created us to be.
The nice thing is I can see how this is true in my life. I never thought writing was something I could pursue for real- childhood dream and all that- but now that I am, I feel like myself again. It is a wonderful, freeing place to be.
Ohhh, I have so much more to say on this topic after reading your comment. Because it’s true – God often stretches us with something we never would have imagined, but it still fits perfectly with the person we’ve been all along!
I haven’t watched one episode of Chuck, but I definitely get what you’re saying. I’ve found as I get older I become more and more comfortable with being who I am and not worrying about what people think about it. It’s realizing that your idiosyncrasies are how God made you, and He will use them for something, however weird they are!
I come alive when I am creating in the kitchen and creating words on the page. And when I am outside with my kids goofing around. Those are my happy places!
Yes. Those things about us that are weird, nerdy, different – those are the exact things He created in us to use for His purpose! (And thanks for getting what I was saying here, even though you haven’t watched Chuck. Now…go watch Chuck!)
yes! go watch it :)
I. Love. This. Post.
And just read the part in Quitter yesterday. Stop the world.
thank you for using TV to teach us!!
ps, when I grew up I wanted to decorate Barbie houses.
I will never stop learning from TV. Nobody should. And isn’t a fun post better than an after-school special? :)
I love this post too. And Chuck. And Quitter – read it in 2 days. This week. All my worlds are colliding.
Love this Post!!! Not just for “Chuck” because I loved watching him grow and discover and get even more cute but for the coming into yourself part. Thanks
Thanks, Amy. Chuck was pretty awesome, but figuring out ourselves is even better, isn’t it?!
Mary, I love this. It sounds like a book to me: Do What Makes You Nerdy.
It’s that *thing* that is so uniquely you that is what God wants you to do. LOVE this. Thank you for the reminder.
Can I use that title? Because I love it. You haven’t copyrighted it, have you? ;)
Excellent post, some very good questions! It’s true that when we’re most ourselves we’re the most attractive and happy, and we’re the most ourselves when we’re the most focused on God and doing what we’re meant to do/being who we’re meant to be. But sometimes it’s pretty hard to figure out what that is; I kind of think that it just happens and then you learn that that’s what it is. If that makes sense. I hadn’t thought about looking at the past though, asking yourself what you used to be into. It makes me want to ask my mom now. :) It might give me some insight into what I should be doing now or something. It would at least be interesting to hear. :)
Ooooh, I like the way you said that. I think you just connected some dots I didn’t. We’re the most attractive when we’re doing what God created us to do because joy and confidence that come from the Lord are beautiful. And yeah, the idea of looking in your past for these answers was new for me, too, when I read that book!
I love Chuck! Thanks for the challenging questions!
I miss Chuck – can’t wait to get the DVDs!
I love your overview of Chuck. I think you hit it right on the head…especially the black t-shirts and haircut… :-D
And definitely a thoughtful post as well. I will have to think about your questions and truly try to evaluate my life. The easy answer for me is “raising my kids”…I feel like I am good at that, but does that count? And what will I do when they are no longer there? Too deep of thoughts for 11:30 at night! :-D
BTW…you have been tagged in my most recent post…
HM, that absolutely counts!! But I understand deep thoughts being overwhelming late at night. You might notice that I didn’t give many answers myself… ;)
I loved Chuck and you have no idea how much I miss it. My husband I and I always thought it was more than just another “spy” show. And yes, he totally got more handsome when he became comfortable with what he was “good at”. To the point that I didn’t even notice Awesome in the later episodes! Thanks for some very thought provoking points this morning. My mind is swirling.
ok, Mary. clearly you are one cool chick. It is SO true right…. the lessons from Chuck?!
I really do think you have summed up one of the themes so well: growing into ones self, and thriving because you are being true to how God made you.
The Nerd. Doing what you do. Doing it well. Saturating yourself in your passion, even if that passion is not cool to the Herd.
not to mention… yes to the haircut cutie patooty!! and that Chuck spurs us on with confidence – boldly telling the world that Being a Nerd is Hot.
Hi! I’m new to the blog. Clicked over from The Nester this morning when I saw the link mentioning Chuck. (LOVE Chuck! So sad that it had to end.) So glad that I did! Thanks for all of your insights. I am in that season of trying to figure out what it is that really makes me, “me.” No definite answers yet, but I’m still looking and this really helped!
Oh and why I am just now finding out that Zachary Levi sings?!? Hello!!
Thank you for writing this. I am so glad I popped over from the nester.
They are just the words that I needed to read.
The quote you shared, “When you come to your dream job, your thing, it is rarely a first encounter. It’s usually a reunion….” really resonated with me.
I am finding myself again in my creative pursuits, and I find that my new little blog is a lovely creative outlet.
If only I could find a paying job in the creative arts! :) Imagine!
I also popped over from Nester, happily intrigued by your title and blog name. This post was like a WHOOSH of fresh air. I’ve been painfully struggling the past year or so to grasp who I am again. I’m a baby, married in a nowhere-ville relationship, that’s gotten the better of me. In a last ditch effort to slowly reconnect with me, I made it a New Year’s resolution to find myslef and what God has for me:
Thank you, thank you from afar. Your kind words have lifted my spirits, that I am important, and what He has is greater than I can ever dream of.