Thursday, November 7, 2013

Rearview Mirrors

I’ve been going through an eCourse about being your authentic self. I’ve found lots of little nuggets to think about regarding self compassion and owning my voice, but much of the talk on addiction to performance & perfectionism wasn’t resonating with me. I say {wasn’t}, because today I met performance & perfectionism face-to-face and was rather surprised by how close to home they live. 

I’ve been down with the flu for the past two days and my kiddos were down for the few days prior to that, so we’ve been shut-up for several days now. Lots of canceled plans, combined with the new time change and chilly weather, meant we all desperately needed to get out. My creative juices weren’t quite back in gear, so a trip to Target was the best I could come up with. 

During our outing, the kids asked about visiting their cousins. I’d just spoken with their babysitter about doing some playdates, so I texted and asked if today would be a good day to stop by and play. Long story short, we ended up back home, wrestling in the basement, when I received a text invite to join their cousins and their babysitter at a local storytime. 

I saw the text 23 minutes before storytime was scheduled to begin. The kids were excited to get to see their cousins and we were all still feeling a little stir-crazy (no, a trip to Target didn’t quite cut it), so I announced our outing and tried to explain we needed to hurry to get ready in time. Trip to the potty, check; bag packed, check; shoes on, check;  jackets on, check; strapped in car seats, check…6 minutes left to get to story time. 

Wait, what?! It’s already 11:24?!! I glance in the rearview mirror just long enough to see it…the flustered, starting-to-sweat-at-the-thought-of-being-late, "Oh my god, why didn’t I stop and at least put mascara on?!”, flushed face of someone facing a performance frenzy. Within the next 60 seconds, my brain flooded with thoughts like this, “We’re going to be the last ones walking in and everyone will look at us.”, “I can’t believe this is what the kids are wearing their first time meeting all these people.”, “Shit, did I bring enough tissues to keep Havyn’s nose wiped?!”,  “Ugh, I hate being late - I feel like such an idiot when I walk in late.” You get the picture. 

Now, remember, I’ve been engulfed in the world of “you’re imperfect, and you are enough” and I’ve felt that deep in my soul. I’ve come to new realizations of what it means to be my authentic self and have given voice to them, some of them here on my blog. I’ve embraced my mess. I’ve let go of ideals. I’m resting in just being me.

Well, most of the time. And truthfully, I am a million steps further down that road of self-acceptance and authentic living than I was a few years ago. But we’ve all got our weak spots and apparently mine consists of rooms filled with dozens of well-to-do moms that I’ve never met before. I want my kids clean, healthy, well-dress, well-behaved and I’d like to look pretty good myself. I sure as hell don’t want to be late. 

Why does any of that matter to me still? Why do I still hold on to those raveled edges of other peoples’ expectations and perceptions? I mean really, maybe for the first time in my life I mean it when I say, Who cares?! I didn’t think I did. I don’t. Maybe I really don’t. Maybe it’s just that old habits die hard and I’ve spent so much of my life trying to be exactly what those around me wanted/needed me to be, that it’s become an instinct. Performing is second-nature to me. 

And so now I wonder and I wait and I fear all the places that this performance nature will surface. What else triggers my need to please? Where else has my desire to be accepted instinctively silenced my authentic voice? Will I see it the next time and will I know how to just be me? Oh, I just want to be me.  

Seeing that frenzied face in the rearview mirror today was gut-wrenching and eye-opening and totally liberating all at the same time. I'm tempted to step back into that familiar self-condeming voice and berate myself with, "How could you ever have thought you were over this?! Look how deep in the performance muck you still are! You have so far to go. You'll never really change." But I'm choosing to look that performance beast in the eye and believe there is more in me. Now I know he still lurks. And now I know I must fight. 

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