Monday, May 8, 2017

belonging

Sometimes I write posts and then let them sit in the drafts section for, like, ever. I started this post about, oh, six eleven 14 months ago. If you've been reading my blog for any length of time then you'll know that I know that I am a recovering perfectionist. Some of you may laugh but its no joke and not something I'll go deep into today. Suffice it to say I refuse to hurt myself anymore. I now try to think of myself as perfectly imperfect. I've come a long way baby. In both thoughts, words, and deeds. But something's been on my mind for a long time now. I'm not sure how to start this topic but its one that pops in my head routinely. 




Its about belonging. 


always in a southern state of mind

In case the words are difficult to read above, in "Rising Strong" Brene Brown wrote...
"Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. 
Because this yearning is so primal, 
we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, 
which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging
but often barriers to it. 
Because true belonging 
only happens 
when we present 
our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, 
our sense of belonging 
can never be greater
than our level of self-acceptance."

Took me forty some odd years to learn that lesson

and its a lesson worth repeating.
One I remind myself of more than I care to admit.
I wonder if sometimes you feel the same way?

I'm not the person I once was thankfully.
I wrote this as a comment on an IG post a few weeks ago.
Carrie asked "do you remember the person you used to be" {before kids}?
I wrote her a comment novel:
"I remember her well, the girl I used to be. 
I'd like to think, no, I know I'm her, just a better version. 
I'm a brave girl now.
That's not to say I don't have fear about things 
but {now} i refuse to give in to that fear, 
the fear that stood in the way of the girl I used to be.
Now when things scare me, I do them anyway.
{I do them scared but I do them}
Including going to dinner or the movies by myself.
I stand on cliff tops {of life} and jump into the abyss,
knowing full well God in on my side.
I know He will catch me when I fall.
but I've learned {thanks to a brilliant @courageworks course}
how to stand up when I fall and how to rise strong.
Bc I know I will fall.
As sure as the sun rises.
After all, we all fall.
We all fall.
Ain't that the truth?
It's the getting back up that shows what you're made of.

I was networking recently with a  group of women designers recently...
one asked "how do you know whether to quit or keep going..."
(bc she was putting a lot of effort in but wanted to see more return as in $}.
I told her for me quitting was not an option. 
That's not me...never was really, 
although sometimes fear stopped me from trying at all.
I have found my passion in life and I'm following my dreams, "balls to the wall."
Ha!
My friend April is probably laughing at me as she reads this...
I told her we should get shirts emblazoned with this motto.
To me it just means I'm all in.
How crass of me I know but when I think of who I was then and who I am now...
well, it breaks my heart that back then I had no idea I was enough, just as I am.
I'm still "her" but a better, braver version.
 I will never apologize for being who I am again.
Perfectly imperfect.
Daring greatly.
Living bravely.
Still all this balls to the wall living doesn't mean 
I don't have flickers of panic.
Of self doubt, of {fill in the blank here}.
Part of what continues to feed that beast is this fear of not belonging.
Do you know what I mean?
But here's the question...what do I really NEED to belong to?
What is this thing we feel like we want to belong to?
What defines that?

In this age of internet, where everyone everywhere
 seems to be on their phones or devices. 
There's this social scramble to get "likes" and "followers".
This thing where your popularity, your "success" is based on {supposedly}
if you have hundreds of likes or thousands of followers 
then you made it! You "belong"!
as if to have big numbers equals you're better than someone 
or more liked than someone 
or you count more than so and so.
I guess its like a number on a scale too.

I hear it from my kids when they see me posting a picture,
they're like "hey mom, you're on instagram, that's so cool.
 how many followers do you have?"
And I always say I don't know, because honestly I try not to look.
Then we have this big discussion because here's the deal...
I don't chase people.
Well, maybe I chased my husband.
Yeah, I did.
I met him, I knew that instant he was made for me, heaven sent
and I prayed for it to happen...and ok. as long as we're truth telling
I overnight mailed him a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts 
after he left Savannah the first time we met
because at the time they weren't available in Houston.
So I guess I chased him.
Whatevs, it worked. 
15 years of marriage last week. 
But I'm not chasing numbers on instagram or facebook.
 hell I can barely manage my accounts.
{I need to hire a teenager I think}
You know I'm building my business.
I'm passionate about it and work on it daily
even when I don't have client work to do, 
I'm always working towards building my business,
my version, my niche, doing what I love to help people love their homes.
I don't want to imitate what someone else has built.
I've taken lots of classes to fill in the blanks of things I don't know.
Because you KNOW that I don't like NOT knowing how to do something.
Business classes I've taken tell me social media is a must.

As in you will find clients or vice versa through your IG and FB etc.
So I've been reading about and studying social media for business.
One eye opener was about instagram,
about people buying likes and buying followers 
and using robots to make comments on others feeds
so that they'll then turn around and follow them back.
And then they'll unfollow you as soon as you follow.
like seriously WTblank.
It's a sad, sad state of affairs if you ask me. 
That's the kind of world where I'm ok not belonging.
But I dont want to quit the 'net...it has its benefits...
I've found some cool design groups 
with like minded people who are supportive and encouraging.
I do instagram at arms length...
because its easy to get sucked in to certain accounts
 with all their perfect pictures and wonder how they have it all together
and why you I don't because I'm you're trying hard 
not to chase perfection any more.
because remember perfection simply does not exist.
Most photos are staged and SOOOO many people just repost pictures 
that are not their own.
I know because I study accounts that suck me in 
and that's when I start to notice this trend of repeats
or of posting pictures I know good and darn well don't belong to them
because I'll recognize and then verify who the original author is.
Plenty of people are reposting the work of other without giving credit.
#Shady
I feel like negative nancy right now and please know I don't mean to be.
I'm really trying to say something positive I promise.
which is something like don't take the bait.
Don't think you're not worthy as defined by 
someone else's equation that involves likes and followers.
You're NOT your number of likes.
You're not defined by the number of followers on social accounts.
Don't think people with big stats have these perfect lives.
I guarandamntee you they don't. 
Everybody struggles.
Some just hide it well.
I, on the other hand, just let it all hang out here.
That's how i know i'm right where i need to be 
and most importantly I know I am right where I belong.
"Because true belonging 
only happens 
when we present 
our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, 
our sense of belonging 
can never be greater
than our level of self-acceptance."

I almost pushed publish right here.
Gulp.
I didn't know if I'd dare to share this story.
Here or anywhere. 
Ever.
I think, no I know, I've told like three people this story.
I guess I can't be all balls to the wall if I don't...
I've come this far.
Ok.
Here goes.
So back when I was doing my courageWORKS semester
you know I declared my arena as having the courage to start my own business.
So on one of my first instagram posts for my {then} new IG account
I posted a picture of my favorite quote which says 
"what would you do if you knew you wouldn't fail?"
then underneath I said some words of thanks to Brene. 
Something to the effect of thanks for helping me to step into the arena.
Two people liked that post. 
I had a couple of followers at the time...
me and a few friends.
Then one day shortly after I saw I had a new follower.
Hmmmm.

Excitedly I clicked over to the followers page to see who my new follower was.
I clicked the follower icon.
Holy toledo batman.
I about died.
It was you know who.
Brene.
Freaking.
Brown.
I screenshotted it.
Because I didn't believe it was real.
Yep.
It was real.
She followed me.
Woot woot.
I was all excited.
Brene believes in me.
I got this.
was pretty much what I was thinking.
Then the crazy crept in.
Like what can I post, 
because Brene's watching,
 its gotta be good.
At that point I hadn't had any professional photos taken,
no portfolio to speak of.
I can't remember what I posted.
 I do remember whenever I posted it was like ok,
will she think its good enough? 
While this thought was on a loop in my head, 
the other part of my mind was on another loop saying 
 I should be as excited, if not more so, 
when someone I knew in real life or some of my blogger friends liked or commented 
because their opinions should matter more than someone I didn't even know 
and by someone that certainly didn't know me.
It was like this weird hamster wheel and it was nuts.
One little thing I never considered...
one little thing was missing and it starts and ends with "I"
So a couple of weeks go by.
I'll never forget this.
It was a Saturday and I'd come home from a run.
I remember my husband was upstairs working on his computer.
I grabbed a cup of coffee, my ipad, and went to find him.
I plopped down, chugging my coffee, going through my emails etc.
I get to instagram.
I'm sure you know what comes next.
I pull up IG and open my page.
One less follower.
I clicked through.
I go through the list holding my breath.
Sure enough, no Brene.
My heart sank like a ship.
I closed my iPad and just sat there.
I felt sick to my stomach.
The words "you're not good enough" rose from an abyss.
Lots of negative self-talk bubbled up next to the surface.
My husband looked up and asked me what was wrong.
Like a sad sack I said "she stopped following me."
God love him, he tried to make me feel better...
"her staff probably did that. 
she probably doesn't even do her own social media"
He went on but no words he could say would take away the sting.
I sat there in my pity party for a few minutes longer.
Then this thought pinged in my head, like a big slap.
This very thing was what I was learning in the class.
Instead of concerning myself with what someone else thought of me, 
I should have first asked myself what did I think?
Was it good enough in my opinion?
I care what other people think 
but shouldn't I care at least as much about what "I" thought?
At least that much.
Funnily enough in one of the later lessons of the courage works class
the exercise called for us to write about a disappointment or a fall 
during our trip into the arena.
There was only one thing that came to mind.
I wrote:

"when i started this course it was because i wanted to find the courage to start a business in something i was passionate about, interior design. i declared my arena to be finding the courage to do this and call it "the decor detective". so a few weeks in{to class} i jumped in, showed up, and hit publish on a website. i also started an instagram account and on my first post I thanked @brenebrown for this course. i was grateful and humbled when a day or so later she became a follower of my new account. i took that as a huge sign that someone, especially someone i didn't even know, believed in me. a few weeks later i noticed i had one less follower, easy to recognize because my numbers are so small right now. ugh. it hit me in the gut when i realized it was brene who had unfollowed me. #tailspincity  its been a few weeks since this happened and although i know it says not to figure out the ending, i'm happy to say that although it still stings i haven't quit, which i'll admit was my first instinct. goes to show courageworks WORKS.:) "

There it is.
The great following/unfollowing.
Please know it was never about her any way.
I love her and her work.
I wouldn't be here without it.
That's my whole point.
It's been over a year now.
That story doesn't sting anymore.
I'm glad it happened actually.
I can't think of a better lesson to learn or from a better teacher.
I haven't quit.
I won't quit.
Numbers don't define me.
I define me. I also get to define how I measure success. 
I recently choose this quote by Albert Schweitzer as my definition...
"Success is not the key to happiness. 
Happiness is the key to success. 
If you love what you are doing, you will be successful." 
And there you have it.
Like me, dislike me.
Follow me, unfollow me.
That's none of my business anyway.
I'm good whatever way you choose.
I wish you well regardless.
Just remember, don't take the bait.
You're not defined by a number, a like, or a follower.
As for me, my story is still being written, every day by yours truly.
I'm the only author.
Well, me and the good Lord above.
I'm taking each chapter as it comes, day by day.
I feel like I've got many more chapters to go.
I hope the last one is still a long way away.
God willing.


PS...if you're interested in taking Brene's COURAGEworks classes

there's a week or so left to enroll in the daring greatly/rising strong courses.
Check it out here

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