If you know anything about me, I have always valued a good aesthetic.
In the spaces I take up.
In the books I read.
In the mirror reflecting back to me.
I have always appreciated the conscious effort to present to the outside world the image of something well put-together, and, if I am being honest, that is an illusion I have indulged in from time to time.
I was on a call recently with a coworker of mine who complimented my office space—that it looked so perfectly put-together for our Zoom interview. I quickly laughed to myself (and then with her) at the massive pile of laundry that lay hidden to the right of my desk, just far enough away that the camera couldn’t catch it. To her, the room looked perfectly polished, but the reality was that the truth was hiding right next to me, just out of plain sight.
As with this room, I have often felt that the presentation of myself to the world was aesthetically pleasing, but the full truth of what life looked like for me—the chaotic, the messy, even the destructive—was hidden just out of sight. No one else could see it, but I could feel it. And all that hiding, all that stuffing away, began to get heavy.
Like most people, a lot has been shifting for me lately, and with that shift has also come a blurring of the perfect mirror image I have so often clung to. And these changes in my life have, in many ways, forced me to reconsider some of the values I have aligned myself with, some of which have kept me from living out the story that I truly want to present to the world.
The girl that I showcased looked put-together, but the girl that I really wanted people to see—that I really wanted them to accept—was one who was far from perfect.
This girl hadn’t washed clothes in weeks because other things in life—for example, even a nap—felt more urgent than clean clothes.
This girl felt extreme anxiety at the mere thought of going back to normal life without her husband at home to help—causing her to be terribly short-tempered and difficult to be around most of the time.
This girl was letting her toddlers watch wayyyy too much TV, but at least it was educational.
This girl needed grace but hadn’t been able to extend it to herself because of the shame she was carrying for what she saw as selfishness.
And as this list grew, I realized that in my fear of revealing my truest, most vulnerable side, I was missing out on living the story of grace, compassion, and growth that I truly valued. I believed in offering those gifts to others, but in keeping them from myself, I was missing out on the fullness of my story.
This is why writing matters. When we courageously peel back the curtain of our lives and allow the truest pieces of ourselves to be visible to others, we are enacting connection, we are encouraging authenticity, and we are reminding others that they are far from alone.
Even as I write this now, my story is ever evolving. All of our stories are. Every day, we gain the opportunity to learn more about ourselves, our character, the parts of us that we want to shed and the parts that we truly want to play. And I believe that it is in these reevaluations that our true character lives. For me, it’s more and more about getting comfortable looking in the honest mirror, approaching what is reflected back to me with curiosity, care, and grace and fearlessly sharing that with the world.
And I have to believe that if I take that honest look, what I will see is something more beautiful than aesthetics.
That our core values are becoming more valuable to our brand than the aesthetics. So that I—along with more and more of us—will begin to focus on what is important. Instead, what I will see is a beautifully transparent story.
A story with missteps, uncertainties, and failings.
But also a story full of courage, truth, and strength.