From the time I was a little girl, I had unrealistic expectations of myself. Part of it came from being a firstborn child, I think. I stressed about grades, my hair being just right, being “good”, and never ever disappointing anyone. Anything less than “perfect” was failing and torpedoed me into a shame-storm. It wasn’t “I messed up”; it was “I am messed up”.
I am a messy, scatterbrained, free spirit by nature, so I was constantly “failing” the so-called standards. Perfectionism was a merciless dictator in my life, and it manifested in stress, anxiety, isolation, depression, and eventually an eating disorder.
As I grew up I was enamored by anyone who told it like it was, and I began to test the waters by voicing my own struggles and fears instead of hiding them.
And the chains started to fall off.
I realized that we ALL STRUGGLE, and not only that, it was okay to struggle. IT WAS OKAY TO FAIL. Learning that was like truly breathing for the first time. When I was open about my mistakes and real about my mess, it brought me what my heart longed for: peace in my soul.
It’s like that feeling you get at weddings or funerals when everything gets really clear for a moment, and the important things finally come into focus. In those times the tears well up and I wonder how I could ever possibly worry about all the small things. That’s the same feeling I get when I lay aside my act and I live and breathe inside my own body. It’s how I feel when I own my truth and I share my truth.
That’s why I hand out grace like candy. I have found freedom in my failure and my life is forever changed. I found out I don’t have to try so damn hard. It’s okay; I’m okay. This grace is the wind in my sails and the song in my heart and grace makes my mistakes a beautiful part of the music.
What I discovered was that my imperfection was actually my gift. When I shared my weaknesses and shortcomings I found connection. Me too is one of the most powerful tools of togetherness that I know.
I feel like a failure as a mom most days.
I love my kids, but I struggle so, so, hard.
I do too.
My house looks like a dumpster.
My husband and I got in a fight this morning.
I’ve been there.
I’m so anxious I can barely leave my house.
I get it.
My boobs look like balloons that are two weeks old and you find them shriveled up under the bed.
Perfectionism steals our joy and kills our creativity. It isolates us and makes us alone in a room full of people. It tells us that our mistakes make us unworthy of belonging.
Friends, IT’S NOT TRUE.
It’s just not true.
I don’t give a rat’s ass what your failures are, you are still worthy. WE ARE ALL A MESS. We are broken and beautiful and everything in between.
Mess is beautiful, so very, very, beautiful, and our humanity is what makes us family.
THERE IS POWER IN OUR WEAKNESS AND EVEN OUR SHAME WHEN WE INVITE EACH OTHER INTO IT.
Listen, we were never meant to do this alone. What if this life isn’t about what we can do on our own at all, but it’s about reaching out and grabbing hands and doing it together?
There’s not a single one of us that escapes the mess; the beauty of it is loving each other in the dirt.
So, I guess you could say I’m a little bit allergic to any article or book that feels like a call to perfection in life, parenting, health, marriage, or anything else. I have an intense aversion to things that feel “strive-y”.
That’s never going to be a goal of mine ever again.
I’m embracing my mess, and I hope you can embrace yours too.
We’re in this together.
Photo by Isaac Johnston.