This week, the topic is authenticity. Brene says authenticity is something we can all consciously practice - she calls it "the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we really are." That really resonated with me after the day I had today.
First, I should say by way of disclaimer, it was a wonderful day, filled with family and the opportunity to practice my art by performing onstage. My parents were here to see my show, and we went for brunch. My nephew Cal was born on Tuesday, and as new grandparents, my Mom and Dad are obviously excited. My aunts and uncles are excited. Our friends are excited. Our acquaintances are excited. It seems that darling Cal (and he really is darling - I'm not allowed to post pictures yet or OH, I WOULD) is the main topic of conversation and enthusiasm in our family circle and in our extended circle of friends. It's very hard for me to not imply and internalize a message from that: the message that it's good to be settled, it's good to have kids. It's very hard for me to not feel like "less-than" because I do not have these things. It's very hard not to think there's something wrong with the way I'm living when it feels so different from that of my brother, my cousins, my parents' friends' kids, the ones I grew up with, who were my contemporaries.
So this idea to be authentic - to be who I really am and let go of who I think I'm supposed to be - felt really powerful to me today. I think I'm supposed to be somebody's wife. I think I'm supposed to be somebody's mom. I think I'm supposed to own a house by now. Weigh less. Feel more balanced, calm. The fact that I'm not, or that I don't, really does make me feel like I am not a whole person, a lot of the time. I feel like these are badges of honour that I'm missing - visible signs, that LOOK! SOMEBODY LOVES ME, or I HAVE STUFF - and that the absence of these symbols means something about my worth as a person.
I know it's insane. It's just how I feel. And so the idea that I should try to let go of those feelings - the idea that those feelings are WRONG - and that (to link back to Brene's initial lesson) I'm imperfect but still ENOUGH - well, that message was received today, somehow. It might not stick, but it's there today, which is a big deal.
The art journaling exercise today was to find a photo of myself that reflects who I really am - to wade through old photos to find images that provide emotional resonance for me (rather than photos where I think I look good or cool). That was a tough exercise, because I self-censor so much - there just aren't photos of me that exist if I don't think I look pretty, or less fat, or cool. Anything where I think I look weird, goofy, chubby, stupid - those pictures just don't exist.
I won't tell you which of these photos won the contest as revealing my authentic self, but these are the photos that made the shortlist, for what it's worth. These are photos that remind me of times in my life where I have felt truly myself, felt permission to be exactly who I am, nothing more, nothing less.
|(Apologies Dad for the hungover (?) sleepy Pops picture - and RIP Blue Pierre Cardin Bathrobe, 1979 - 1994.)|
|Again, apologies Cathy - but we were both making silly faces...|