Where did you travel this year? Did it move or change you?
I’ve traveled a few places in the last year, but when I saw this prompt, my first thought wasn’t of the visits to Utah for weddings, or Eastern Idaho for funerals, or even California and Oregon for vacations. I thought more about my journey as a person.
Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but I’m noticing that I really don’t care about a lot of the stuff that used to keep me up at nights:
- Having the perfect house
- Having perfect children who conform to cultural and social expectations
- Having the perfect body
- being the perfect wife/mother/friend/daughter/sibling
Some might say I’ve “given up” or “let myself go” or am even “irresponsible” regarding these things, but the truth is---I have come to accept my limitations and lack of interest in much of what it entails to strive for all this perfection. I’ve become a whole lot more accepting and open to what IS and and I’m much more forgiving of myself for my failures. This acceptance has freed me to explore and do life on my own terms, with some pretty impressive (to me) results. I have figured out my talents and genunine interests, my aesthetic (anything that makes me laugh), my priorities, and my purpose. It’s not that I have EVERYTHING figured out, but I know who I am and I know where I’m headed.
I have a twenty-something friend on Facebook whose posts are rife with all the insecurities and anxieties particular to someone who is still trying to figure out who she is and what her place and role in the world is. Part of me wants to reach out and put my arms around her and lovingly tell her to get over herself. A lot of the the things she’s frettting over won’t matter in ten or fifteen years and she’ll have wasted a lot of time agonizing over them, rather than truly experiencing life and doing good. At her age and a decade on, I was just like her…so I speak from experience. Of course, I don’t reach out and tell lher to let go of the crazy, because I’m sure, that had someone done that to me, I wouldn’t have listened. I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t listen, either. Unfortunately, it seems that stewing in self loathing and insecurity over all the perceived imperfections in life is just part of growing up.
In the meantime, my favorite quote and mantra has become this saccharine-free quote from comedienne Sarah Silverman:
Now, I would never presume to compare myself and my work to the awesomeness that was Mother Teresa, but I love the sentiment. The woman had work to do---there was no time to worry over keeping up appearances when there were real needs to deal with and real people to love.
Now, I like to look nice, and I like my things to look nice. I like my kids to behave and I like to think that I’m doing a good job with all of that, but I’ve long since given up trying to look nice, be nice, have nice for the sake of the approval and acceptance of others. A lot of what I do now, in fact, DOESN’T look nice, because frankly, creation is messy. Work is messy. Forgiveness is messy. Repentence is messy. Life is messy. But it’s all beautiful and worthwhile if you learn from it and do good with it.