Originally published on 1-1-14
In an interview Lance Armstrong did after he got found out, when asked why he lied so much he said, “There was this great picture everyone thought I was a part of. Everyone thought I had a great marriage and I had overcome cancer. I had 3 great kids and I was a world class athlete. I didn’t want to let that story go. I wanted to perpetuate it at all costs.” Look where that got him, on the clearance rack at every sporting goods store.
Never mind that I think he’s pond scum. I understood what he meant. There is a bit of me in his statement, as I believe there’s a bit of each of us in that statement. (Unless you’ve reached high enlightenment, in which case, save a spot for me!) This hustle to keep it up touches us all in one way or another. Who are we when no one is looking? Who do we pretend to be? What kind of façade are we hustling to try to keep up? Why are we trying to keep it up? Who cares?
Over the last two decades and maybe more, I have spent a lot of time and effort hustling for approval in different ways. I would beg for the trendiest clothes, break my parent’s rules to be accepted by the cool kids, you know all the regular nerdy kid moves. I even remember being 12 or 13 and being asked by a class mate if I had ever been skiing. With total certainty I said, Of course I have. We went skiing on our last family vacation. I have still never been skiing! Why did I care to impress them? Silly.
Or fast forward to this decade, there were times I was having relationship issues with a boyfriend (choose a card any card!) and nobody was the wiser. I would stay stone cold, no crack in my armor. I used to compare me shutting down my emotions to Batman activating the Batmobile. Hardness would come over me and all of a sudden my emotions were impenetrable, to the naked eye at least. One time a co-worker asked me how I was doing after a breakup and I said, Fine...our relationship was like a milk carton. I always know it had an expiration date. Man. What a B! The truth was I was hurt and sad but I didn’t want anyone to know it. I wanted to keep up my strong, capable, Calamity Jane appearance. The notion of people knowing I couldn’t handle everything made me wince. The seemingly stronger, take no bull, and brazen I was, the more praise was directed my way. So I kept up the game. Never let them see me sweat -- at all costs.
Then one day, about 5 years ago, my self-imposed façade of greatness came crumbling down and I was presented with another option. Tabula Rasa or as it’s known in my country, clean slate. I figured that lying and scheming motivated by: politeness, necessity, malice, ill will, confusion, protection, or even fear, had only gotten me into dark holes. So I thought, this time, I’ll be honest with other people AND myself. This strategy is easier said than done and, as always, I err, but my error rate is significantly lower than before. My true advancement as a human only happened after I started being honest with myself about who I was and what I wanted.
It’s like I’m the bowling ball headed down a bowling alley. I don’t get a strike every time, sometimes I don’t even hit a pin, but I am never in the gutter.
Folks, hustling is exhausting. I have resolved that if we’re tired, we should be tired. If our heart is broken, let’s sit with it. If we really don’t like Kendra Scott earrings and everyone else does, it’s ok. If we’d rather save money for retirement than get a Louis, we should. If we’d rather not send out Christmas cards because we’re tired, we have permission not to. If we walk into a house and we are impressed, we can say so. Being pulled together all the time, sucks. Sure, it mutes our pain, but it also mutes our joy.
Let’s consider this our blank slate. Today, right now is our tabula rasa! Let’s be exactly who we are. It’s ok to feel, laugh, cry, experience, be in awe of, be confused by, be bored by, be intrigued by…Life is all about feeling all those cool things and figuring ourselves out. Let’s do ourselves a solid and give ourselves the gift of honesty and freedom!
I am thrilled for you and what the next 365 days have in store for you!