The beads and bourbon and baked king cakes and beignets seem like a distant Tuesday memory. Still feeling fat and plump from yesterday’s excess, but lightened by the promise of a new day. Wednesday means it’s time to dial it back, symbolic ashen foreheads show a commitment to restraint and reflection for the next forty days.
Giving up doesn’t really come naturally to me. Even when I feel like I’ve been treading water for too long, I have trouble accepting a life preserver. Several years of my life were literally spent underwater, swimming laps and hanging out in the slow lane of my high school’s 25-meter pool. All because I didn’t know how to quit. I hung on for too long, to this thing I didn’t like and for which I had no talent. I know this because my skin smelled like chlorine instead of Bath and Body Works’ cucumber mellon.
I’ve hung on to toxic relationships, to old t-shirts, to mascara, to worry and doubt and fear. I’ve gripped shoulda-coulda-wouldas with my balled fists.
These days, I’m clinging to the person you want me to be. She writes listacles and articles about career development without introducing her own vulnerabilities. She chooses blazers over cardigans and heels over flats. She swirls around networking events like a ballerina gliding across the stage, instead of a sweatpantsed wino surfing through her Netflix queue. She is confident all the time and never utters the words: I feel like an impostor. I feel like a failure. I’m still figuring this out for myself! I feel like I’m alone in this.
My writing, the kind you never get to see, utters all of these phrases. Short stories, unfinished prose, and poems line the margins of my to-do lists and meeting agendas. These scribbles should be carefully labeled, “Not for human consumption.” These ponderings house questions and answers and they’re the yarn that tethers us together as People Finding Our Way.
Every single day I look into eyes that are just as hungry as mine – and I urge them to share their gifts. To make the world better, to make themselves better. The words sound good coming out of my mouth, but I know that these lips belong to a hypocrite.
Giving up sleep, giving up cheese, giving up the F-Bomb, giving up on people – it’s just not something I’m interested in. So why am I so dismissive of the chicken-scratched journal entries about the meaning of life? Of the things that refresh me and feed me and make my soul dance?
Maybe I’ll fight a little harder. Maybe I’ll show you a little more depth and a little less “so how’s the weather” so you don’t feel like an impostor, or a failure, or that you’re alone in this. I’ll write like the person I want me to be. The lady who sometimes wears sweatpants to Price Chopper and doesn’t have her stuff figured out just yet.
What light will you let shine? What gift will you share for the next forty days? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.