Tuesday, June 7, 2016

It Will All Be Okay

For most of my life, I've struggled to reconcile my actual self with the person others wanted me to be. My mother forever admonished me to be more ladylike. Cross your legs, brush your hair, wear a dress, put some lipstick on...and on and on. I didn't--and still don't--have any desire to be ladylike. To me, that meant: Pretend to be something you're not.

When I was a little girl, I hated wearing dresses. My idols were my five older brothers. None of them wore dresses. My favorite outfit was worn Levi's and a Playboy bunny t-shirt. Before I started kindergarten, I could cuss with the best of them. In retrospect, I really empathize with my mother's plight.

Now, I struggle not to stifle my own spunky, strong-willed, and feisty little girl's spirit. She's creative and messy--a virtual whirling dervish. Yesterday, she "dyed" her beautiful blonde locks black at the ends with Crayola markers. "MOM, relax, it washes OUT. I watched a video!" When I walk out of the house with her today people are gonna judge the shit out of my mothering. That's okay. 

We all play different roles and wear many hats in our lives, but those are just the things we do...not really who we are at our core. And that's what I'm working on: Just being who I am at my core. It's quite a journey to get back to who we were before our parents, teachers, society told us who we were supposed to be. Hence my efforts to refrain from shoving my own kids--especially this one who is so much like me--into boxes they'll have to bust out of in the future.

The past year, I've deepened relationships and walked away from friendships. I've accepted that some people were never going to like me, but I've also lowered walls and let other people get uncomfortably close to me. I have begun living more authentically and less apologetically.

Today, I sometimes wear dresses and lipstick--willingly. Other days I wear ratty t-shirts and holey jeans. I also swear. Maybe too much. That makes some people uncomfortable. They aren't my people, and I'm not theirs. That's okay too.

What I'm finding on this journey is that the more willing we are to love and accept ourselves, the easier it becomes to love and accept others. Even when they don't live up to our expectations. Even when they don't want or take our advice. Even when they could be so much happier if they would just _____. Even when they don't like us. Even when they say unkind things about us. Even when we don't really like them.

But the hardest part, still, is allowing myself to be okay with my shortcomings so that I am not stung when they are reflected back at me in others' behavior...because what annoys us most about others always has something to teach us about ourselves.

I recently reread one of my favorite books, The Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer. I rarely re-read books, but there is so much wisdom packed into this gem I couldn't absorb it all in one experience. Today, I am reminding myself of his words: The truth is everything will be okay as soon as you are okay with everything. And that's the only time everything will be okay.

And it's really that simple. As soon as we fully accept something, it no longer holds any power over us.

Except maybe coffee...that wily, delicious minx. But I accept my powerless over coffee.