“I’m a fucking disaster,” I typed into the text message box. I wasn’t proud of it. I wasn’t happy about it. If you must know, I was actually hiding under a blanket when I sent it to one of my best friends. But it was the truth as I knew it in that moment.
Good writing, they say, starts with just one true sentence. The truest sentence that you know. It doesn’t have to be true yesterday or tomorrow. Just right now.
But that’s a difficult thing, isn’t it? Declaring your truth in one particular moment.
Because, I’m learning, truth can change. What was real yesterday may not be real today.
Yesterday I needed to be alone. Today I want to socialize.
Yesterday I would have walked through fire for him. Today I never want to see him again.
Yesterday I could do 25 double-unders in a row. Today I can’t even do two.
Yesterday I was content with my town. Today I want to breathe in the whole world.
I want to be strong, consistent, dependable. But that’s so damn hard when I’m made of all this fickle humanness. I want to inspire and uplift. But how can that happen when I do things I’m not proud of? I want to be productive and motivated. But that feels impossible when I’m exhausted and fearful.
So here I am on this personal development train. I’m very publicly on this personal development train. Sometimes I get confused and think that requires a steady, upward trajectory, with no fuck-ups allowed. You know, staying on the Nice list forever. Being consistent and always doing the “right” thing. But that’s when I’m forgetting that there is a person under that
Development is not a point in time at which one arrives.
It is not perfection or Utopia or an ideal.
It is not to be put on a pedestal and glorified.
It is not all positive.
It is not absolute.
It is a sometimes ugly, messy process that includes doing shitty things and learning from them.
But when we have the courage to say the ugly out loud, we remove some of its power. My shame-filled, true-as-I-knew-it sentence helped me to start a conversation with a trusted friend who responded to my text by saying, “You’re not unique, and I mean that to be comforting. So many people go through shit like this. Give yourself a little grace.”
His words helped to de-isolate me and put things in perspective. They gently removed me from a falsely constructed pedestal. They brought me comfort. And he’s right. Every one of us suffers. Every one of us feels undeserving and messy sometimes. But if we don’t say it, how can the burden get lighter?
So, fellow fickle humans, when you don’t like yourself, when you’re struggling, or ashamed, or confused, start with the truest sentence that you know. It doesn’t have to be a Facebook status, or a bullhorn announcement. It can be a scribble in your journal or a text to one trusted friend – and it doesn’t have to be pretty.
One of my favorite sentences is, “This, too, shall pass.” A simple reminder that nothing is permanent. A humbling and comforting thought if you ask me.
Sometimes the truest sentence I can construct is, “I’m a fucking disaster.” And I’m learning to be ok with that. Because in other moments, I could truthfully say, “I’m awesome and I’ve got this.”
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