Inside: You don’t have to be perfect or to even know exactly where you’re going to build a beautiful, joyful, purposeful life. You can bumble your way into beauty.
Maybe life isn’t quite as complicated as we’ve thought it was. And maybe finding our way to a life of purpose, joy, and beauty is more readily attainable than we’ve believed.
How to bumble your way into beauty
Struggle with anxiety and hide a lot. Daydream about writing or sharing your mission and message but never actually take action because it’s risky and vulnerable and spikes anxiety. Finally get tired of being afraid of loss, pain, or rejection and begin to do the work you feel like doing without trying to control the outcome. Learn to take imperfect action and offer what you have to give. Let that be enough.
Spend way too many years judging yourself as not good enough, not strong enough, not thin/smart/capable/energetic enough. Live mired in guilt and shame. Then one day hold a wee little person in your arms and realize you want a different legacy for her. Decide to institute a no-bullying policy and choose to love yourself well from this day forward.
Live in waiting for the next scary phone call, the next crisis, the next horrible, bad thing. Don’t let yourself taste pleasure or feel joy because when the next shoe drops you’ll have further to fall. One day, after burying many people and walking through despair, realize you’re still here and you’re stronger and more resilient than you once believed. Decide to taste it all and say yes to life.
Micromanage, stay up late cleaning, planning, or organizing to keep your life perfectly managed. To keep yourself feeling safe. Get angry about mess or imperfection, try to measure up to all your internal standards and never cut yourself slack. Come to the end of yourself. Pick up your pieces and put them together slowly, tenderly, realizing that they are very beautiful pieces. A million imperfect and crazy beautiful pieces.
Give too much in the wrong places in an attempt to be a good girl. Give and then feel hurt when it’s not reciprocated. Pour out until you’re empty. Then one day wake up and realize you’re allowed to say no, to set healthy boundaries, to love your family first and honor what you need. Slowly release pressure, performing, and people-pleasing and pick up joy in its stead.
Attempt to carry the weight of the world on your little shoulders. Care deeply but you’re too small to help heal a broken world. Learn to numb the pain by whatever means necessary. Release one coping method or addiction to replace it with another until one bright day and one tentative step at a time you walk your way into freedom. Begin offering your small light, loving one person at a time, or using the small resources you possess to help build a kinder world.
Spend a lot of time ruminating, pondering the past, wishing you knew better or that life had felt easier. Allow your mind to wander aimlessly into the future, storytelling, amping up anxiety. Make assumptions, care about what others think about you, believe every thought your wily brain spins for you. Get tired of this nonsense and become the boss of your thoughts. Rein things in and learn to question, examine, and look for joyful possibility like your life depends upon it.
Read all the books, look to “the experts,” watch what others are up to. Doubt your innate wisdom and look for the rules, the seven step programs, the exact way to home-school, parent, build a happy marriage, craft a healthy life. Close the books and take a break from the podcasts. Practice listening in. Ask for help when you need it and glean from others but understand that you are the expert on your life. Begin walking in quiet confidence and trusting yourself.
Forget to enjoy this ordinary day. You’ll be happy when you go on a vacation, get married, have a baby, get a better job, lose weight, pay off your student loans, when your kids stop bickering. Yearn for better or different and miss the gift of today. Get tired of waiting. Take personal responsibility for your response to life, start practicing gratitude with gusto, notice how life feels different now because you changed how you see.
Keep waiting for a friend – a cheerleader – someone who will see the full truth of who you are and love you unconditionally. Think you’re doing life wrong because no one fills up that deep hole inside of you. Feel like you don’t fit or maybe aren’t cut out for this world. Finally, choose to be your own biggest cheerleader and your own best friend. Deepen your roots of self-awareness and self-compassion. Realize you no longer crave the approval of others because you like who you are and you’re more able to hold space for others now too.
I wrote this with a sense of humor (and gratitude) – thinking back to my journey and process. There is no one right way to build a beautiful life, but there are a million imperfect ways.
NOW WHAT? Stop waiting for perfect. Decide to quiet the noise of comparison, perfectionism, and fear and show up fully to life – join me in my new Brave & Beautiful Membership Community!