I am one of those women that sees some kind of meme, saying, quote, etc. on social media and saves it as it’s oh-so-true and relatable to my life. My phone gallery is plump full of them. I re-posted one a few months ago that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Whitney Fleming on Playdates on Fridays wrote, “I want to be with moms who tell their stories from the trenches, the ones who talk about their struggles in their marriages or their fears for their kids. I love the women who openly share their miracle skin cream and admit their counters are only clean because they shove their stuff in a drawer. I need to be with people who don’t cringe when I say I’m fed up with my family and don’t judge when I fail. I want friendships that fill me up, because no one is ever satisfied after eating fake cheese.”
This really resonates with me. When I dig deep and am completely honest and vulnerable, I admit my presence on social media is equivalent to serving fake cheese sometimes. When reflecting on that, I know I truly didn’t intentionally get into the habit of only showing a highlight reel on the big broad web, but it just happened. I show pictures of my children laughing joyfully, but that might be after they just finished an epic meltdown because I wouldn’t give them another bag of fruit snacks. I may show myself relaxing with a beer on the deck, but the truth is, it lasted 4.5 minutes, and I couldn’t truly enjoy it because I was too fixated on my phone and checking how many likes or loves I received on previous posts. I show pictures of my adventure traveling with three little kids to a fun destination, but the truth is, I really wanted a vacation from my vacation after the exhaustion of managing three little humans’ every need for 6 consecutive days without a break and also hating the sweltering heat making me incredibly irritable. I may show a picture of my daughter hugging a bush of beautiful hydrangeas, but the truth is, she is struggling with anxiety and panic and trying to learn how to handle big emotions and fears (and that exhausts me as a mom who really just wants her to feel better). I may show a picture of me and my husband on a date night enjoying a new restaurant, but the truth is, there is a lot of brokenness and strife, and we are trying hard to save our marriage. I may show a happy selfie, but the truth is I have been longing for a professional change in the last couple of years, and I recently took a risk and leap of faith and changed jobs after over 9+ years, and that has also been scary and anxiety provoking.
The truth is the past 9 months have been anything but easy. I’ve had to dig deep to find the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other when the path ahead seems much too daunting. There’s been a lot of heart ache, tears and frustration. The winter was harsh and long, both figuratively and literally. The summer was hot and exhausting. Maybe it’s the start of a new school year and the temperature changing to my most comfortable 70 degrees or saying yes to new adventures, or committing to frequent and consistent marital therapy that has allowed me that boost, but I’m starting to feel more at peace. I’ve been reading a lot of Brene Brown (and I can tell you how much I love her?), and with all her research on shame and vulnerability, it served as the catalyst to me finally sitting down and putting these thoughts into words. I never mean to serve fake cheese on social media, but I think the fear of being vulnerable and “real” has held me back from being my most authentic self. I am so far from perfect, but I know in my heart of hearts, that is OK. And you are all OK with that because you yourself are imperfect in such beautiful ways. My new idol and friend (Brene…who doesn’t know we are friends) also writes about putting ourselves out there “in the arena,” and showing the world ourselves- the good, bad, and ugly. She is a PhD educated social worker, researcher and story teller who has done TED talks, written books, and has a Netflix special. And in each of her works, she comes back to her most favorite Teddy Roosevelt quote, “It is not the critic that counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.”
Daring greatly for me personally can entail a lot of different things as of late, but it could also mean simply putting out this blog entry, a creative piece of work, a little glimpse into my heart and soul, allowing you to be the critic and judge…or inspire your own personal “aha moment” or epiphany….or make you think “oversharer!” or “drama!” or whatever it may be….but also knowing I’m standing up in the arena with my face marred with dust, sweat, and blood….and being my most authentic self, serving real good cheese, not that fake Velveeta processed stuff (unless it’s in a grilled cheese, then it’s ooey-gooey and comforting in a yummy way). And if you don’t like cheese at all or are just not in the mood for it, that’s OK! To you, my friends, cheers to daring greatly, owning your truth, and sharing (or not sharing) real good cheese, and most importantly of all, finding peace and joy amidst some of your hardest life struggles.