“Always be a first rate version of yourself
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.”

“I forgot something. I’m really good at this.”
~ 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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