"Life's messy, love it." …I'm more of the, "life's messy, clean it up, organize it and put it into a bento box." – Brené Brown, The Power of Vulnerability, TEDx Houston
As a chronic control freak, the idea of Life being “messy” has always kind of seemed like one of those things I say without actually believing. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve used the line, “Life just gets messy sometimes” as a means of comforting other people or to make an excuse for myself. But here’s the catch… I still convince myself that I can control the mess out of life.
I’ve gone days, maybe even weeks, honestly believing that if I make it just this much further, or accomplish these few things, that I might actually beat the odds and perfect the neat and clean life that I spend so much time convincing others that I live. But when it boils down to it, no one expects me to live that way; no one is putting pressure on me to excel, or to preform well, or to have it all together… In my pride, I convince myself that I should be the one that meets every standard ever set. I can get perfect grades, the glamorous social reputation, and the purple badge of honor all before I go home to make an instagram worthy meal, clean the house, take a bath, and still have time get 8 hours of sleep (or, maybe I told myself I was immune to sleep for an entire semester). I hold myself to these unrealistically high standards; no one is telling me that I have to be that person, I’ve just bought in to the lie that my identity should be based on my accomplishments.
But here’s the thing; when your value is based on the things you hope to accomplish and not on the life you actually live, imperfection translates as a feeling of total and complete worthlessness. For a time, you may be able to keep up with the act… On a good day, it may be nothing more than exhausting; but the reality is that more often than not, it’s just plain disappointing, and if one thing is certain, it is never satisfying. And yet what does that disappointment lead me to? Surrender? I wish. It just results in me trying harder.
I have allowed my accomplishments to determine my worth.
What if, instead, I embraced the idea that life IS messy, and I valued that mess rather than trying to conceal it entirely? I’ve got a feeling that instead of that exhausting and disappointing feeling of worthlessness, I could learn to engage in the world from a place of worthiness.
I’ve been really into an author named Brené Brown lately; she has spent the last 10+ years researching shame and vulnerability and has developed some theories about shame resilience, and what she has termed “Wholehearted Living.” I quoted her at the beginning of my post, and I’m going to quote her again because she’s just that good. “You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.”
My desire to control my life and hide the messiness therein is nothing more than my own “hustle for worthiness.” Its exhausting at best, but mostly its just disappointing.