I listen to podcasts and audiobooks (from my local library’s app) while I clean. I am not sure if it’s the extrovert in me or the desire to learn all I can, but I absolutely love to listen to people talking. I find music adds to the already outrageously loud decibel level of my home, but talking somehow allows me to tune out the crazy.
Listening to Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert recently, she said something that really hit me deep. Talking to an aspiring creative, Liz (yes, we are on a nickname basis) said,
“Dignity is just another incarnation of fear.”
The podcast context is worth listening to, but I also believe the quote stands alone.
When I started this blog earlier this year, I decided to share candidly about my experience as a mom raising kids in the suburbs. And it’s been interesting what has resulted.
Most people are surprised to learn that I am actually quite private…or at least I used to be. Vulnerability is not my favorite thing. I prefer for people to think highly of me. I have said this all before.
However, as I looked around at the women around me, I realized society is feeding us all a load of total crap. The pressure our culture puts on parents (and people in general) is suffocating, so I decided to take a more honest approach to blogging…and not just share the perfectly curated version of myself.
But it hasn’t come at a cost. And most of that cost is the loss of my dignity. A surprising number of people have unfriended me on Facebook (Possibly because of my blog. But probably because I overpost. But whatever, I love social media.) Because I share the hardest moments of raising children, sometimes people think things that aren’t actually true. This isn’t everyone, of course, but it is still hard for a recovering people pleaser such as myself.
I recently heard something about myself that I was not intended to hear. And it was very weird because it wasn’t actually true. But I realized the person saying it believed it to be true because of what they’ve pieced together about my life…from information I’ve readily given. Either way, it’s never easy to hear something unkind about yourself.
In that moment, I realized that in becoming an undignified version of myself, people would not always understand. There would be misjudgements and criticism.
But those are worth it for the awesomeness that has been this year. I have very little dignity left, but I also very little fear. I don’t have to hold together a perfectly curated life because I have already told you how imperfect I am. When my kids act crazy, I don’t have to apologize because I’ve already told you they can be wild. And I don’t have to explain they’re not always wild…because some kids are always wild, and I would rather that mom feel okay than to defend myself.
Being a mom and writing about being a mom is what I do. Those are the areas of life where I invest my creative pursuits. But this concept of dignity being the incarnation of fear goes so far beyond either of those.
The world is missing out on a lot of amazing creative pursuits because we are so concerned with what others may think that the fear incapacitates us. Creative pursuits are messy and time consuming and vulnerable. Putting yourself out there for all the world to see (and possibly criticize) is hard.
(Exhibit A: I am writing this blog while my kids work on school right after I finished writing emails from my Noonday business while my little boys scream and play and dinner isn’t being made. Messy and time consuming.)
But it is so, so good.
I think of my friend, Brittany, who owns Culture Flock Clothing. For years, she worked at a nursing home and would draw pictures of the residents. I have been so obsessed with these drawings for years, and I love that she now sells her items. When her art pops up in my newsfeed, my day is instantly better.
My friend, Katrina, created the most beautiful project in her city. Katrina loves for people to be known and is so good at bringing out the best in others. This project is just one of many that she’s done to open my eyes the beauty that’s already there but I just can’t see like she can.
My friend, Chrisitia, is an extraordinary mom. She runs her household with such purpose and grace. I love that she’s blogging now because her gift is to help moms learn to manage their own homes better. And she does it so well!
My friend, Julie, is an awesome blogger that could easily be Pinterest perfect, but she is so real and vulnerable that her ideas leave me inspired rather than feeling inadequate.
My friend’s husband, John, is a very talented videographer. My favorite video is, of course, of him interviewing this super hot man! Everyone has a story to tell, and I love how well he is able to share people’s stories.
I have so many amazing friends…my BFF is a real writer of real books…my friend, Ashley, shows me the best deals around (she’s even been on Dr. Phil)…my friend, Lauren, started her own organizing business when it wasn’t convenient…my friend, Syliva, wrote this amazing book…seriously, I could go on forever.
The common thread among all of these people is that they are doing something really hard and really vulnerable. They are unwilling to pay attention to the fear that would tell them the world doesn’t need their creativity. Some of them have a huge following; some of them have a small following. But the numbers don’t matter. What matters is that they are pursuing something that makes them uniquely them.
You owe it to the world to be awesome. And no one can be awesome in the way you can. Believe me, there are a million writers out there…and most are better at it than me…but no one can tell my stories the way I tell them. And no one can do what you do in the way you do it.
The hardest part of any creative pursuit is actually starting it. But there’s no time like the present. Don’t be so dignified that you miss out on the richness of what you have to offer. The world is waiting for you.
(And don’t tell me you don’t have time. We always make time for what’s important. Which is why this is published and my kids are hungry.)
Seriously, go be awesome today.