Christian Living


Julianna Zobrist on Overcoming the Pressure to Please Everyone

Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

Julianna Zobrist is a true original.  The popular singer-songwriter has long been associated with a unique sense of individualism onstage or via her presence on social media.

The personification of someone striving to balance faith, family, and fashion with her own personal twist, Julianna is the wife of Chicago Cubs outfielder Ben Zobrist, and the mother of three rambunctious children under the age of ten.

Needless to say, life can get a little busy sometimes.  So much so, that Julianna is often asked, ‘how on earth do you pull it off?’

This is a very good question that she attempts to answer in her debut book, Pull It Off.  In it, Julianna encourages people from all walks of life to understand their true identity.  In doing so, it is her hope that readers will discover their unique qualities and release themselves from the unwarranted expectations of people, culture, and society.

I recently sat down with Julianna to discuss whether individualism is a matter of choice, why it is important for someone to understand their true identity, and what role God plays in making a person feel priceless and complete.

With everything going on in your life, music career, husband, three kids, lots of travel due to touring and your husband being a major league baseball player, how do you even have time to write a book?

I am annoyingly attached to my calendar and really needed to be very disciplined, so when I signed with Hachette Book Group, I put an entire schedule down for myself on paper, because that’s the way my brain works, and every day locked myself in my office for four to five hours and wrote. So it was a matter of self-discipline.

You have been described as someone who has a very unique sense of individualism.  Is that something you do by choice or is it just who you are as a person?

Definitely choice. Becoming who you are is a choice in a number of different ways in so much as we are inundated with inputs of who to be and the way to act, and love, and what it should look like, and all of these —the culture is inundating us on all fronts of what you need to look like, think, and there are always these inputs. So becoming who you are and being an individual begins as a deliberate decision. It begins with the commitment to being vulnerable with yourself, with being honest with yourself, with taking a minute to go, ‘Okay, why do I believe what I believe? Why do I think what I think? Why do I see life the way that I’m seeing life?’ So it begins deliberately and then it gets easier as it goes, which I think is courage.

What was the catalyst for writing Pull It Off?  What inspired you to write it?

When I put out my record Shatterproof and began touring around the nation, my heart is so much for communication, so talking to these audiences about the concepts of fear and courage began to really resonate, and woman after woman, young girl after young girl, grown man after grown man would approach me after the shows asking, ‘Where can I read more? Do you not have anything else?’ Honestly, this book is like a love letter to anybody that feels the struggle with jumping through the hoops and trying to fit in but not feeling like you fit in, and what do you do with that. How do you gain confidence and courage that we all so desperately want? So it was out of these questions that created a need and spurred me on.

Why is it important for a person to understand their true identity?

It’s so key because what I think we display when we are true to who God created you to be is that you actually display a part of God’s character. He says that you’re created in His image; male and female you’ve been created in the image of God. So if you succumb to the fear and the pressure of what other people are asking you to be, then the world is missing out on what I call a “fraction.” We’re like miniature fractions of God’s image. The world misses out on who you are, but I think ultimately who God is.

With that said, what role does security play in finding your true identity?

That is everything. When you understand your value and your worth you can be secure in the fact that “for God so loved the world,” and that His motivation was and always has been love. There is intrinsic value and worth there, and this feeling of security in worthiness just between you and God, complete approval by God is priceless.  Then out of that grows courage, confidence and the willingness to press through fear to gain those things.

In your book, you write about putting people in a box and living for the approval of others. How can you break from that and take ownership of yourself? What are some ways you can do that?

That’s a great question, and I address a lot of this in the book. Very practical ways of doing it are just simply slowing down and tapping back into this childlike mentality of “who do I want to be when I grow up?” That used to be such a fun question to answer as children. There’s no kid out there that’s like, “Oh, I think I just want to do the same thing every day and until the evening and then drink a glass of wine and go to bed.” That’s not what we dreamed for our life. We have larger-than-box ideas of who we wanted to be, and so a lot of it is just slowing down and asking yourself, “Who am I and what is it that I want to be when I grow up?” even if you’re 40 or 50 years old.

Why do you think some people lose sight of who they are? Is it because you’re living out what other people want you to be? Or is it just the old “life happens,” concept for lack of a better term?

I think it’s both. There is an intense amount of pressure to fit into what your community or culture or even religiosity has said is the approved way of living. I think that a lot of us, myself included, become kind of handicapped to that approval, that need for approval from other people. It really bothers us when we don’ t have it. We get insecure. We get really offended. So it’s the safer way of being, but I also think that we lose ourselves, because we do get busy. I mean I’m a mom of three, and there’s a huge chunk of time where you’re just basically in survival mode. You’re like really lucky if you brush your teeth and put on mascara that day. So there’s that, too, but the good news is that there’s grace for all of that, and there’s time.

You also write about something called “heart authority,” or finding your heart authority. What role does that play in finding your true identity?

Your heart authority is that lens through which you see life, and if you can come back to the fundamental belief that you are worthy, because God has said that you are just by nature of creating you. Just as an artist paints his name into a photograph, so you have been created and given an image of God. If you’re heart authority is that, this belief that you are already before God, loved and valued just by nature of being His created being, then that is your heart authority. It allows you to press forward. It allows you to be okay when other people are different. It allows you to see fear and not avoid it but actually use it as a catalyst for courage to see who you can become, because you know at the end of the day that you’re worthy and valued by God.

After people have read Pull It Off, as an author what is the one thing you want your readers to take away from the experience?  What is your greatest hope for the book?

I have a few greatest hopes, and I thought about these greatly while writing Pull It Off. I want them to hear my voice. I want them to hear and feel the humor and the light heartedness in which I write. I hope they see me as very transparent. Secondly, I would hope that when people read the book that they are okay with thinking, that they’re okay with ripping out a page and wrestling with it for a week, that they’re okay with Googling this research or looking up a word that they don’t know. Every word is chosen with so much purpose behind it. I really do hope that people don’t read it quickly. I hope that you rip out the pages and take it with you wherever. Hang it on your mirror. I want you to think, and then lastly I want you to know that you are so valued and worthy of love.

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