The other day I was a perfect disaster. Not on the outside, mind you … but in all other places that make you feel unhinged. In a rush (as always) I realized that it was going to be one of those days, those – better hide the hot mess I really am and keep smiling, kind. In not wanting to mark my shirt I’d forgotten to put on deodorant! Half way to where I was going I realized it, so I pulled over to a gas station and … of course … the place I stopped only had men’s! I went into the bathroom, where I also realized I’d put my underwear on inside out, and walked out even less confident than before – and smelling like a dude.
Not much before, I’d had an experience in the Walmart bathroom with a silver hair. Silver! I say silver instead of gray because somehow, silver seems just a bit more dignified with its connotations tied to wisdom instead of age. Still, I know it is what it is. The first time I found one of the dreaded beasts I remember having a proper melt-down and, for the first time ever, called a stylist for highlights. I was somewhat less devastated when she told me how many people she’s seen with near full-coverage by their early twenties let alone my few strands. Still, I had those “pieces of wisdom” properly taken care of. My stylist said not to worry. But how do you not worry, when only a short time ago, the hair you’d thought was blonde turned out to glint in a Walmart mirror, alerting you once again that the horrid little pests had returned?
I found myself waiting for my daughter to finish up in the stall behind me as I leaned close to the poor, fluorescently-lit mirror, precisely plucking each traitorous strand. At this point it was a matter of public safety, in my mind. You never know when the crummy lighting throughout the store would hit a glinting silver strand wrong and blind an oncoming cart-pusher. Imagine if that person was so distracted they ran into a display of some sort … catastrophic. Though my husband and stylist kindly tell me I’m the only one who notices them, I know the truth – or my version of it at least.
The thing is, I have this expectation of myself to be, well, not perfect but close enough that other people think so. Wow! What a horrible thing to admit. Did you ever realize something when you wrote it that you never would have told yourself if you hadn’t? I guess I am admitting it to you, but I have the comfort of a computer screen in front of me to pretend I didn’t say it aloud; and I wouldn’t have, if I didn’t think honesty were so important. But it is. It is important to realize what we believe about ourselves, even if we don’t want to admit it. And of myself, I’ve realized I am quite harsh.
I am totally okay with others making mistakes, I encourage it actually. I always say that mistakes make you learn, but then hypocritically refuse to let myself make them. When I do, I pray they’re the kind I can deal with before anyone else figures them out, but sometimes they aren’t. Working so much with a full time family I feel like they pop up more and more … I can’t find a shin guard for soccer or forgot to send my daughter’s nap time pillow to school. I remembered her tutu but forget her tights or put the wrong kind of applesauce in his lunch. I might miss a newsletter deadline or forget the exact time of a meeting. And while none of these are earth-shattering, I can’t help but feel like those around me are going to figure it out – I can’t do it all. More than likely they’ve always known and I’m the one who still has to own up to it.
Being a happy, loved-beyond-deserving wife and mother, I don’t agonize over the reason why. I don’t know if my insecurities came from childhood or college grades or society and the truth is … it doesn’t matter, they are there regardless. I’m trying to be gentle with myself and be content with the fact that I am not, and never will be flawless or blameless. Lately I have tried to focus on the wisdom of Emily Ley who said, “I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.” Grace … now there is the key.
I wonder if I’m not alone here. If other people struggle with associating what they’re worth to what they accomplish? If you are I would encourage you to love yourself better than that–it is not what God designed us for. We’re human, whether or not I like to admit it … I am. I have, I do and I will make mistakes and I need to follow one essential piece of advice–get over it.
Elbert Green Hubbard knowingly said, “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” So I’m done. Knowing myself, I’ll still be me, of course–I’ll still try, but I won’t be afraid of what will undoubtedly happen when I balance endless schedules and commitments. Mistakes, here I come!