Who came up with this whole "find your best, most wonderful, authentic self" crap? I mean really. How is it that so many people spend so much of their lives trying to "find themselves"? Is the world just one big department store and we are all toddlers wandering off and, at some point, we have to send out an AMBER alert for our souls?
I mean, I THINK I know the answers to these questions.
We are told by society and the world at large who we are supposed to be, what we are supposed to aspire to, how we are to become OUR BEST SELVES. But honestly it is just so exhausting. And frankly, also rather traumatizing to be always looking for your toddler-lost-in-the-department-store self.
I feel like we've lost the ability to just BE. To revel in the mundane, the boring, the quiet and simple. Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves and often on our kids to be THE BEST all the time at all they do. In all this striving for all the things one should be/do/have, are we not just creating more stress and anxiety for everyone?
The answer is obviously YES.
In Janelle Hanchett's memoir, "I'm Just Happy to Be Here", she writes about one of her sponsors, Good News Jack, who says to her at one point in her recovery, "Wouldn't it be great if you could be OK with being pathetic?"
This line has been stuck in my head for weeks since I first read it. Weeks of watching Nine in her MULTIPLE dance competitions dancing her little heart out and having a great time - regardless of medals or scores or placings. Weeks of me looking for the quick fix for my back pain. Physio and needles and injections and massages and OH RIGHT! I can't undo 20 years of Rheumatoid Arthritis and a compensating body in a mere 6 months. And weeks of me wondering what is wrong with my kid and why he keeps getting into scuffles at school and where we have failed as parents, only to realize that 11 is a tough age for all kids and tweening is HARD yo, and maybe we are all a little bit pathetic (read NOT perfect) and well, maybe that's OK.
Here is the truth. Some days my authentic self wakes up, she gets the kids to school, walks the dog, comes back home, and falls back into bed into a deeper sleep than she had the previous night and sleeps for hours. Other days, she gets herself to the gym (even when all she can think about it falling back into bed), runs all the errands, arranges for the landscaping and tree-trimming to start, preps for soccer practices and games, gets groceries, and even plans meals for a couple of days. And then there are the days when it's a frozen pizza and a pre-made salad because that's all the energy I have to give to cooking that day.
My authentic self likes to go hide in her office and watch too many post-apocalyptic Netflix shows (hello new season of #The100!) while also colouring in her Jenny Lawson colouring book and tells her husband that she is "working". Sometimes my authentic self wears full on makeup, including her ever improving winged-eyeliner, and sometimes she forgets to actually put anything on her face and oh-my-good-gawd-woman, when was the last time you cleaned your glasses? Do you even care what you look like? Did you brush your teeth today?
As you can see, I am often authentically pathetic. And I am learning to be OK with that. Because nowhere in the manual of "How to be a Human Being" does it say that one has to be EXCEPTIONALLY EXCEPTIONAL AT ALL TIMES in order to be happy. (Also - there is no such manual - we are literally all doing this living thing on the fly!)
This is me being your very own Good News Jack and telling you, it is just fine to be OK with being pathetic. To accept that mediocrity is not a sin or a sign of failure. To love your people, let yourself be loved, and cut yourself a whole shitload of slack. In Brené Brown's "The Gifts of Imperfection" she describes authenticity as "the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who you are".
So let's all try to let go of the panic-stricken-parent-looking-for-their-lost-toddler-at-Target part of ourselves. And, oh, I don't know, maybe try to be more like the toddler who got fascinated with a display of colourful towels and decided to make a fort with them and then fell asleep. You know, metaphorically speaking of course, cause this definitely is not (probably is) based on a true story.
Be kind y'all. Especially to yourself.