“If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback” ~ Brene Brown
I’ve learned judgement, criticism, and mockery is the price of admission to an authentic life. A life not defined by others expectations or beliefs on who you “should” be, or how you “should” act. I’ve cried a lot. Last year was one of the hardest and loneliest of my life. But it has also been the most liberating.
I spent a lifetime shoulding all over myself, a people pleasing good girl trying my best to be liked, to fit it, and make others comfortable. The real me was tired, tired of hoping for attention, or to be deemed worthy, or enough. The real me was tired of down playing my accomplishments and big desires. The real me had fought her way to the surface and now the real me was paying the price.
“I don’t know, you’re just not REAL anymore.”
Ironically, I’m finally allowing myself to be real these days. The real me has something to say, instead of biting my tongue in complacency. The real me feels good when I’m fit, looking good, and dressed well. The real me loves celebrating my body, instead of feeling ashamed of it. The real me likes nice things and wants to earn a lot of money to buy them. The real me is tired of excuses, complaining, and women who spend more energy defending their shortcomings than overcoming them. The real me is fed up with the expectations and judgements of mothers. The real me is over pleasing others and ready to please myself. The real me wants to show up in a real way, even though I know I’ll be criticized.
I am a real mom. I’m a real woman and a real person too. But today, the word “real” has taken on a whole new meaning. Real no longer means authentic. Real means imperfect, messy, vulnerable…unafraid to be seen as “less than.” I real mom isn’t put together, fit, happy, on top of things, and succeeding. Oh no. A real mom is a hot mess.
Shared struggle has become our new form of connection. Regena Thomashauer writes, “to relate with other women, we must connect around our mistreatment and despair. Bad news is our entry point; we have absolutely no shame about leading with the negative. This kind of cultural agreement is another form of enslavement. It binds us to negativity, instead of our potential. When a woman is taught by her culture to only communicate about the negative, she begins to place “positive value” in the negative. It becomes our negative experiences that buy us access into relationship with other women.”
It’s easy to make fun of yourself, to use self deprecating humor to show how real and unpretentious you are. It’s easy to be unapologetic about your messy house or addiction to disorder, but it’s another thing entirely to be your own biggest cheerleader, to talk yourself up, celebrate your success, and share your ambitions aloud. It’s not brave to berate yourself, it’s cheap humor.
Bravery is believing in yourself. Bravery is loving yourself. Bravery is admitting what you want, even if it feels unpopular, “too much” or superficial. Bravery is breaking from the crowd and deciding that your authentic self, your authentic life is far more important than being accepted. Bravery is walking away from the comfort of who you think you “should” be, so you can find who you really are.
Yes, being real and vulnerable includes our lows, moments of struggle and rawness. Realness can include mess and mayheimk of course, but that isn’t the full picture. Until we are able to share our success as freely as we do our failures, we’re anything but real.
We all get to want to different things and be different people. There are no rules. There are no perfect moms. This is no one way to be and yet, we still judge the hell out of other women, especially those who threaten us in any way. It’s easier to criticize her than admit you want what she has. It’s easier to tear her down that ask her how she does it. It’s easy to mock her than ask yourself why you are so triggered by another woman doing her thing, her own way.
I’m a real mom and I’m done apologizing for being who I am. For the first time in my life I’m allowing my real self to see the light of day. She’s not perfect, far from it, but she’s me. This year I resolve to be even more of who I really am, to get to know myself better and allow her to take the wheel.
I’m real. Really done living up to others’ expectations. Really done making other people comfortable. Really ready to allow all of me, both chaos and confidence, to really shine
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