A friend forwarded a humorous article this week about the extreme measures a woman took to “detail” her house in preparation for a weekend visit from seven of her college sorority sisters. The woman was nervous because she is a home-design expert, and she felt her home needed to reflect that fact. She admitted her frantic cleaning and organizing were “totally about looking good.”
The group who received the article had some fun with it via text, then afterward I wondered, “What face do I try to show to the world, and is it authentic?”
I’d like to think I would never go to the extremes the design expert did to put her home’s best face forward. Maybe I wouldn’t repaint the stove burners as she did, but I have been known to rush around my house before guests arrive attempting to make things look prettier. This is partly out of respect for those who enter my home, but if I’m honest, it is also partly because I want my house to be a positive reflection of me.
I also pay attention to my personal presentation—my clothing, my hair, my actual face. It would be a stretch to say this was out of respect for others unless I was talking about bathing or brushing my teeth. Why do I care? Because like everyone else, I have the human need to belong. I also have an ego. While I wish I were so divested from my ego that I didn’t care one single bit about what other people think of me, I’m not.
I describe myself as an intuitive healer, a yoga teacher and a Qoya teacher. I should be able to humbly waltz through each day fully meditated and fully stretched, swathed in a peaceful inner knowing, right? It feels quite vulnerable to admit it, but no! I would like that to be true, but I, like everyone else, has her ups and downs. So, if you are a potential client who wants a healer or teacher who is a fully enlightened guru, I guess I’m not your gal. As I wrote in a recent email, I consider myself both a spiritual seeker and spiritual guide, as I believe both can be true at the same time.
Do you know what else can be true at the same time? Insecurity and authenticity. No matter how gorgeous my home or how fashionable my outfit, underneath everything, all I can be is me. Sometimes I strive for the myth of perfection to assuage my lack of confidence. But I feel better when I choose to relax and own who I really am.
Authenticity requires courage, and bravery is inspirational. A friend recently admitted to me that before visiting her brother, she often spent time online looking up facts about the latest world news and politics. These were not things she felt inspired to keep up with, but she didn’t want to appear uninformed. It took courage to tell me what she did, and what she didn’t know until that moment is that I have done the same thing! We shared a laugh and now each of us has a buddy to contact when we are tempted to appear to be who we are not.
Authenticity also requires letting go of old stories that control our self-image. In my case, the reason I did the news researching is because of a story my ego likes to tell me that I am not as intelligent as everyone else. I know in my heart it is a lie, but I still occasionally believe it. It’s time to let that one go!
Like almost everything, authenticity a balancing act and perfection is impossible. I would advocate that we hold space for ourselves–and for each other–to show the most authentic face we can. Here’s to embracing unvacuumed carpets, bad hair days and scant knowledge of political affairs!