When You're Ugly & You Know It - Confessions of a Bratty Big Sister
I'm trying so hard to not be cliche right now. I'm afraid of so many things and I'm wondering how much is okay to divulge before you're like, "Okay, weirdo" and peace out of here forever.
Screw it. Here's a list of a few things I'm afraid of, off the top of my head:
- I'll fail
- I'll let my family down (because, selfishness)
- I'll produce something I'm not proud of
- I'm not authentic enough
- Or perhaps I share too much
- Indifference - from you or from me
Please don't leave me?
I've been to two creative conferences in the last few weeks and I can't tell you how many talks covered the idea that fear is crippling to creatives and if we don't get out of our own heads, we'll never make anything happen.
My first response?
"DUH. Heard that. I started my blog tho, so I'm good. Fear is so last year for me. #AlltheDELIGHTS!"
And then life served me a huge, like, make-you-sick-and-bloated huge, serving of humble pie.
My sister called me on a Wednesday night, the very night that I'd reserved to put together a few blog posts before I left town (because, fear alert, I was afraid of radio silence). I was feeling overwhelmed trying to drum up the time to write about all my new, brilliant ideas (errr), and also needed to wrap up plans for her bachelorette party that weekend, write a speech, and memorize lyrics for the wedding song. Combined with the stress of leaving town for a week and saying goodbye to quality time with my shiny, new (and hot, hallelujah) husband.
She was desperate for help and she asked me to design her wedding program, menu, and a few signs around the venue. I felt myself cracking under all the self-imposed pressure, but I said yes because she was my sister and because I felt guilty for even thinking about saying no.
Let's contrast my life with hers for a second. I wanted to write blogs and think of silly questions for Dirty Jeopardy. Lauren, on the other hand, was getting married in less than a week. Her fiance's parents were denied visas and would miss the wedding. Friends from Kenya who's visas were approved were staying with my parents after their accommodations fell through. People needed to eat and be transported, in addition to all the last-minute lists she planned on attending to. She knew I was "busy," so she tried to design her own wedding collateral in her word processing program - enough to give anyone a panic attack and/or make you want to rip off heads.
Being the bratty older sister that I am, I took on the task, but I did it within the exact parameters of her request. I sent her an ugly, boring, embarrassing first draft and when she called to give me the bad feedback I had coming, I asked her, exasperated, "Lauren, have you even thought about any of that before this moment?"
Matty was sitting next to me on the couch and his eyes went wide as he shook his head at me disapprovingly. I felt shame. Lauren immediately started crying.
I just got angrier. I was mad at myself for being so prideful. I was mad that the only time I'd set aside was being stolen from me and no one seemed to care. I was mad that I was even having that stupid thought.
So I looked at the blank blog space that was sitting in front of me and proceeded to write the Family First post. I wrote it with a combination of bitterness and a desire for redemption in my heart. I hoped the redemption would have the upper hand. I pressed "publish" and ran to the bathroom in tears.
Ugly. It was living inside me and now it was oozing its way out of its hiding place.
I think the heart doesn't tolerate ugly. It's fiercer than we give it credit for and it likes to clean house when the dirt wants to make itself at home. This internal battle between clean and dirty, light and dark, good and evil - I think beauty is at our core. The choice is letting the heart do it's job - or crippling it until it can't.
Matty lured me out and I cried on his shoulder until his shirt was soaked. It occurred to me that he'd have to take it off, which sounded like a nice distraction from the hole I'd dug for myself...
I went back to my computer and proceeded to design something I'd be proud of. Something I'd want at my own wedding. I decided not to shortchange my sister for my own plans and desires. I remembered that family and sisterhood was, in fact, the most delightful thing in my life. Lauren was one of a trio of people who believed in All the Delights while it was still a baby of an idea.
I've mentioned it before, but authenticity is the number one foundation of this blog. And if I'm not being authentic with my love and time in my own life, I'm doing you a disservice. I decided from the very the beginning that if All the Delights didn't align with my family or became more important than people I cared about, I'd quit.
Today isn't that day. I'm not quitting and in fact, I'm ecstatic to be back! I surprised myself at the amount of ugly crying that happened at the thought of putting this blog on hold and I spent a lot of time thinking about the heart of it all. I keep coming back to one simple idea: I love to write and I want to keep doing it.
So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to practice writing every day. I'm going to keep finding my voice. You get to enjoy the process and probably get a few good laughs when my voice cracks at the puberty stage. Which, come to think of it, may actually be right this moment...
Lauren had a beautiful wedding. The bachelorette party was a blast. I found time to write a speech and I ended up looking at lyrics as I was singing, but it didn't matter because all eyes were on the bride, of course.
And the "Ceremony, this way" sign looked dang good, in case you were wondering.