Monday, July 31, 2017

On being authentic and safe

This summer I have spent a good portion of my time on an unexpected kitchen repair and some of you have been following the progress of #sweetcampkitchen over on Instagram.  Our oven died and we found a replacement resulting in a kitchen overhaul.  Painting cabinets and brightening up the space and finally painting the mauve countertops with a kit.  For about 24 hours those countertops were smashingly beautiful.  They made the room look spectacular and one almost forgot about the mauve backsplash behind them.  I was so excited to add the final coat--an epoxy that would seal them and make them glisten and gleam.  I had spent about a month researching the best way to do this and I felt confident in our choices.

Until it didn't work.  

And we were left with a semi-sealed mess all over our countertops.  Hours and dollars right down the drain, and I was so upset.  This sounds ridiculous, but I had to think about how, and if, I even wanted to share this story.  I really didn't want to admit to the world I had failed and was back to square one again.  It hurt my feelings--especially when I'd spent a few days with my fabulous extended family who is all about the renovation and design process and their homes look like showstoppers.


My counters stopped the show alright--like a scratching halt to the music.  

It's not easy to share your most authentic self with the world these days, especially when (if we're being honest with ourselves) most of us use social media at times for applause.  Unfortunately, we live in this universe that is quick to judge and shame and share with a click and we often forget that real people with real struggles are living and breathing on the other side of their screens as well.  And this also prevents us from being our most authentic selves because it feels very unsafe.

However, when I peek into the world of others and they are willing to let us into their messes, I love them even more.  When they freely admit they don't have it all together (but are earnestly trying), it makes it so much easier for me to share my struggles as well.

This is another time of the year when I feel overwhelmed.  It's almost back to school and I never feel like I've used my summer as well as I wanted to (even though each one is always so great).  I start to think about the year ahead and my lessons and ideas and performances and wonder if they will be good enough.  I think about my own kids and all the things they have ahead of them and our calendar and the busy and the day in, day out struggle it can be for us to get it all done without looking and living like a bunch of savages and I start to get the shakes.  I start to feel badly about my clothes and hair and how my body keeps getting older each day.  I spend more time than I'd like to admit pondering my mission in life and what I actually might be good at while simultaneously sneaking in another episode of my latest Netflix find.  

But that's not the person I want you to see.  The problem is, I don't know how to be the opposite of that person, because that person doesn't exist.  And when I do run across those people who seem to have it all together, I recognize that they have problems and issues, too.

However, I know a lot of other people just like me who are just trying to keep it together on the regular.  Ordinary folks who just want to run away sometimes and not have to take care of anyone, be responsible, or have to make decisions for about 48 hours.  People who can't always keep their homes magazine-straight, have crumbs in their cars, and have to make choices between new shoes and ensuring having kids' snacks that they will actually eat because they must fall in the Yellow Food Category (nuggets, mac, fries, applesauce, etc).

Can't we just admit that most of us fall into the Regular category?  Can't we just call it what it is and accept that, despite our self-imposed feelings of excellence, we're all just a bunch of average folks in search of other average folks just like us?  Wouldn't community feel a whole lot better if we weren't trying so dang hard to impress the masses with our filtered and perfectly cropped lives?

I think so.  

And I'll be over here in my pajamas and coffee breath surrounded by toys and fort blankets and paint cans and dust if you want to sit next to me.

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