Here is a shocking statement. I am not Martha Stewart. Perhaps not so shocking for those that really know me but I don’t have my crap together most of the time. I’m a Hot Mess. My house gets messy, I always have too much laundry, and I have a lot of internal “crazy” that if you only knew…. This is the complete opposite of everything I “should” be. I’ve lived most of my life trying to conform to expectations, rules, and standards without ever questioning them. I have the house, three kids, and the “stuff” (see article). Heck, I literally have a picket fence. Yet, the older I get, the more I want to be free from any expectations of how to live my life and just be, well…me.
We have a third car (my daughter will be driving soon). This third car is the last thing from grand. We have named him “Chehaw” which should give you a picture of what kind of car I’m talking about. He is 18 years old, very rusty, and his glory days have long been forgotten. However, he runs like a boss, has all-wheel drive, and brand new tires. This thing makes me feel safe when I’m driving on snow covered, icy roads. So I drive it a lot and I love feeling confident and safe when driving in the winter. Here’s the confession, I dropped my son off at a birthday party this weekend and was absolutely mortified to be seen driving up in it. I was hyper aware of the question, “I wonder what the other parent’s think of me?” What if they think I was “less than” because I was driving a less than stellar new car? I ripped out of the parking lot, hoping no one would notice my lack of vehicle prowess. How ridiculous is that?
Well, the inauthenticity doesn’t end there. I had flaked out about the birthday party and remembered 45 minutes prior to its start that it was this weekend. I had no gift. We packed my son’s bag and raced to Chehaw to take him to the party and to get a gift. I had it perfectly planned. I should be able to pick up the gift and then pop into the store right next to it to get all of the wrapping accoutrement and get there mostly on time. Well, the store didn’t have anything I needed so I found tissue paper and bought a bath gift set which had the ribbon I needed on it (seriously, who knew Big Lots didn’t have any gift bags, wrapping paper, or ribbon?) Long story short, the gift looked like crap. Literally a wad of tissue paper with a haphazard ribbon. That is NOT how I roll but it was the best I could do. So as I slink away from my rusty car carrying the hideous ugly gift to the party, I ran through a million different excuses as to how to explain why I didn’t “have it together.” Essentially, how to spin being a “hot mess” to make it more acceptable.
So , how authentic is that? How genuine was I being in that moment? That’s my point. Who said I have to have a nice car? Who said I have to “Martha Stewart” my gift wrapping? (Yes, that is a verb). What am I trying to prove? And there it is, I put a lot of energy into hiding my “hot messes.” As far as I have come on my journey, I still find I have a ways to go. Why does my car and gift wrap determine anything about me or my life? It doesn’t but I still struggle with it at times.
I don’t think that this authenticity thing is an easy process. It’s been years of programming from every possible angle. Every commercial tells us that we are lacking something. Every magazine photo tells us we need to be more like someone else. And every person who is stuck trying to conform tells us that we aren’t conforming as well as they are. The message is screaming, “don’t be yourself!” How tragic is that!
No one on earth can relate to “perfect.” We all have our “hot messes” that we spend an exorbitant amount of time hiding. Yet, the last thing I want is to have a perfect friend. I’m ecstatic to pop in and find there house a hot mess. In fact, the less perfect they are, the more free I feel. Free to be honest, free to share my struggles and burdens, and free to be me. Yet, I still can find myself hiding behind nice cars and beautiful gift wrap amongst other things just to be found “worthy.”
One of the reasons I love my job is that I get a front row seat to authenticity. In the hour my clients are with me, they are gut wrenchingly honest. More honest than perhaps they have ever been in their lives. And it is beautiful. Their story (see link) is so powerful. Yet, they hide too, sometimes behind addictions or perfection. Sometimes, both. They have been told to be anything but who they are and that creates a lot of “crazy.” We are all longing to be known and yet terrified of it at the same time.
I’m on this journey of becoming more genuine and real. I don’t want the car I drive to determine my worthiness and I want to stop hiding behind things that have nothing to do with who I am. I’m kinda like that hideously ugly present. The wrapping doesn’t really matter, it truly is what is on the inside that counts. In order for anyone to see the truth of who I am, I can’t keep the wrapping.
How about you? What do you hide behind? What’s your hot mess? You might be pleasantly surprised to find that you aren’t alone. Leave a comment and let ME know, I’M not alone.