Each and every one of us is a mixed bag of curious characteristics. Our strengths, our weaknesses our quirks and idiosyncrasies. And hopefully each and every one of us can muster a take it or leave it attitude around who and what we are. Now it goes without saying that we are all, or should all be an ever evolving work in progress. Always shaping and sharpening ourselves to be better, kinder, more skilled, more educated, more caring, compassionate and generous. But at the core of who we are certain truths are not changing. Anyone who has kids will tell you that to a large degree, they just “are who they are.” Born with an innate persona that is the Essence of them. Kids haven’t yet suffered the piling on effect of life, and expectations and so what you see is, in fact, what you get. Now most of us went into rearing and raising children thinking far too much of ourselves and our ultimate impact. Before our first was born I erroneously believed that I was going to nurture my children into who and what they were to become. Feeling pretty smug about all that kick ass nurturing I was going to do and how the seeds of love and devotion I was planting would reap flat out fabulous results. But guess what. Nature wins. Every time. At this point I consider it an enormous relief. It takes a whole lotta pressure off when you realize that, we are more like lifetime chaperones. That in large part, molding our kids toward who they are intended to be isn’t our job. It’s our job to keep them from putting M&M’s up their nose.
So if we are born, hardwired to be and become who we are, how come things get so muddled and mixed up as we get older? We begin to believe that we are supposed to be one thing or another but being many different things is more often considered confusion rather than complexity. Personally, I’m much more partial to considering myself complex than confused. It has a nicer ring to it. If we were to release the images and expectations of Who we are supposed to be, are we left with an incredible vision of all that is possible for us, or a terrifying void because we have absolutely no idea what that would look like. Either way, I believe it is not just a goal, but a responsibility that literally PLEADS with us to be realized. Our truest self needs to be known for it is that Self that has an utterly essential job to do and crucial contribution to make.
Still, we are all bombarded with notions, opinions, influences and even ultimatums that persuade us to be the person that allows our family, our society, our business associates, our peers and all the various and sundry people around us feel comfortable. When exactly did it become our responsibility to contort ourselves like some participant in an absurd game of Twister - tying ourselves in knots doing what everyone else insists or suggests? Society wants women to be feminine, pretty, nurturing and “nice.” But we also hear the message loud and clear that we are letting down The Sisterhood if we are not strong, independent, self-sufficient and professionally driven. We’re supposed to be attractive and in the same breath shun the notion that appearance should have any bearing on our personal or professional success. We’re supposed to want a family then drop our tots off at daycare and have someone else raise said family so we can pursue a career. Men are funneled with unforgiving expectation toward being strong, successful, and competitive and accomplished. Yet the message is also unrelenting that they are supposed to be tender partners, patient communicators and doting dads that are perfectly at ease with a screaming infant because of their serene and compassionate nature. Is juggling to be all this what “Having it All is all about?”
I have decisively concluded that Having it All means knowing who you are and giving yourself permission to be every part of what that means. We begin to feel unsure and off balance when there seems to be a conflict afoot. I remember as a kid that our family was very close friends with the priest at our church. This man swore like a sailor and drank like a fish. Is this brash personality one we normally associate with a man of God? Have we soaked up a message that tells us what a priest should act like and what type of dinner guest they ought to be? Yep. I also remember when I first moved to Seattle and was working in real estate. I was, in very short order, introduced to what “Microsoft Money” looks like. And I can promise you there are no custom tailored Hugo Boss suits or Ferragamo loafers involved in their daily dress. As often as not it’s a pair of ripped up jeans, a shirt that may or may not have been washed recently and shoes are a bonus. Instead of a six figure car, they will likely arrive for an appointment in a Subaru that looks like they’ve been sleeping in it. The moral of my story is that once we release ourselves from the burden of who we are “supposed” to be we can get about the business of becoming who we are “meant” to be. Once we claim the courage to own ourselves, we awaken possibilities that never existed when our energy was devoted to fitting in rather than filling up our lives with Purpose. Nobody, but nobody, ever makes the contribution they were created for when they are beholden a Master that keeps them alike rather than alive. Years ago I made a choice. I decided that it was far more important to me to me respected than it was for me to be liked. And if I only ever won my own self-respect, for being brave enough to hear and speak my own voice that would be good enough for me. Anything less denies God’s intention for us and quite frankly I’d rather let the Jones’s down than my Creator. I’m convinced it’s a far better game plan for outrageous success.
The messages we are inundated with will remain a mixed bag of chaotic expectations and unreasonable demands. Oh well. At this point I’ll take on the seeming contradiction of being the gal that listens to Eminem, yes the explicit version, on my way to church and isn’t really interested in anyone’s opinion on my playlist. Surround yourself with people that don’t just encourage your best and truest self, but will tolerate nothing less. When you choose to honor and live your intention…your design…then nothing can stop the Story that your life was meant to tell.