Holding it Together is Overrated
I’m the oldest of seven, the product of overachievers, a hyper-competent, perpetual “woman who always has answers and knows where she’s going,” the go-to girl–the one who seems to always have it together.
Lately I’m questioning how this affects me–what is the price I pay for stepping into this personae? Yes, I’ve come a long way, I’ve let a lot of perfectionist tendencies drop, am less controlling than before and am a big advocate for the “good is good enough” message–but what would it look like for me to be MORE vulnerable? To be less prepared, less polished, more messy and human than I have ever been before?
It takes a lot of energy to told it together. My yoga teacher Jenn shared a story about a photographer who shot Salvador Dali over a stretch of five minutes (with time-lapsed breaks in between). Seeing Dali go back and forth between “DALI!” and a tired, slightly slumped over normal guy in a chair was fascinating. It showed how much energy it took for the artist to be on stage, in personae–to “hold it together.”
Two of my close friends are going through hard times (one may lose her house, the other is navigating a rocky divorce). We’ve been talking about how essential it is for them–for all of us– to allow ourselves to come undone, feel our feelings, turn into puddles, ask for help and be vulnerable–in order to transform into who we’re meant to be … next.
Author Brene Brown (The Gifts of Imperfection) says, “What fuels this unattainable need to look like we always have it all together? At first glance we might think it’s because we admire perfection, but that’s not the case. We are actually the most attracted to people we consider to be authentic and down-to-earth. We love people who are ‘real’ – we’re drawn to those who both embrace their imperfections and radiate self-acceptance.”
I just returned with my son from a week at Omega Institute–nestled on 500 hilly acres in Rhinebeck, NY. It was amazing; he was in Architecture Camp for Kids while I Danced My Bliss. Towards the end of the week we dropped into a lunch session with singer/songwriter David Wilcox for some Music Medicine (short, original, spontaneous pieces written to soothe/inspire your heart and spirit). My son asked David for a song about “relaxing and feeling free,” and what followed was one of most beautiful, heart-wrenching pieces of songwriting I’ve heard in quite a while. As I listened to David’s lyrics about Jonah running with his friends like the wind through the woods, I felt tears run down my face.
What is the price that those around us–those we love most–pay when we feel we must “hold it together” or maintain our vision for how we think things “should be?” Don’t we all desire to let go and feel more free?
Actress Elizabeth Shue said, “I understand now that the vulnerability I’ve always felt is the greatest strength a person can have. You can’t experience life without feeling life. What I’ve learned is that being vulnerable is not a weakness, it’s a strength.”
My intention for the next few weeks is to be more vulnerable, to make more mistakes, to put myself out there as unfinished, a work in progress, maybe even clueless–and to hopefully–maybe for a minute–inspire a few others to consider doing the same. I’ll let you know how it goes.
INVITE: Interested in learning how to Find Your Center? Join me Oct. 19-21 for our New Way of Being: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat if you want to join us at the beautiful Kripalu Center for Yoga & Wellness in Massachusetts! Peak leaf turning time! I’d love to hold the space for you to rest, connect with your needs and desires–and hear what your Wise Self most wants you to know.
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Photo at top: Are you willing to let yourself be unfinished, to fall apart, to come undone?
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