One of the hardest things for me about our modern world is the constant exposure to perfection. When I'm on Pinterest I see cakes I could never bake, outfits I could never create, homes I could never own. When browsing through different blogs, I read stories of success and good deeds that are not in my future. When I'm on Instagram, I see the glamorous lives of my friends and acquaintances, all while I'm lying in bed with a cup of tea in a chipped mug. Life isn't the perfectly crafted SnapStory- much to my dismay and perhaps to yours. Life isn't just the good, the laughter, the glitter, the cupcakes, and the ball gowns. Life is messy and complicated. Which means it is completely acceptable when we are messy or complicated.
I've been suffering through a miserable breakup, and have been a version of myself I don't like. I'm insecure, doubting my self-worth, questioning my intuition, distrusting my emotions. On the outside, I look good. Everyone keeps congratulating me on how well I'm taking my loss and this time of transition. They say I look skinny and happy. All things I love to hear, and words that affirm my soul and need for acceptance temporarily. But then that self-loathing creeps back into my mind. How did I get to be the girl that would date someone for three years only to come up empty handed? How did I allow myself to love a man so ferociously when he didn't reciprocate? How did I end up crying into a glass of wine every night of the week?
I went to lunch with a dear girlfriend and was asking her all of these questions. I was trying to come to grips with the girl who is currently inhabiting my body. What happened to the confident, joyful, passionate, focused girl I truly am? Is she dead? Did I kill her with my bad decisions? My girlfriend said these life changing words: "It's an amazing thing to fall in love with your shadow." Let me explain. Your shadow is the darkest part of your being. Remember Peter Pan? Always chasing his shadow because it was misbehaving? That's kind of what we all do; we try to keep the mischievous, complicated parts of our self out of the limelight. Our shadows are the part of our personality and existence that we don't frequently share with the world.
My shadow is terrified of failure and of not being accepted. My shadow is insecure and shy. My shadow is hesitant to love, to forgive, to trust, to believe. My shadow does not see the good in any situation and is constantly searching for excuses to run from adversity. My shadow is scared. My shadow is timid. My shadow is lost. My shadow is fickle. My shadow is confused. My shadow is angry. My shadow is anxious. I don't like my shadow. But my shadow is me. And self hatred is pretty detrimental to personal growth.
So we're back to my friend's wise words: it's an amazing thing to fall in love with your shadow. How is that even possible? Learn to grasp the different components of that side of yourself. Identify what they are. Figure out why they are inhibiting for you. And then, slowly identify how each of those "negative" traits make you into the person you are today. It's not easy. Loving the weaker parts of your person is actually the most daunting task I can fathom. Quite frankly, I shouldn't be giving advice on the subject because my shadow and I are completely at odds right now. But I'm trying. I'm trying to see that all of the bad parts of my personality only make it that much more wonderful that I am a resilient person who generally loves life and lives it to the fullest. I'm beginning to see that my weaknesses have made me a more empathetic person, a more relatable person, and a more determined person.
The same can be true in business. We aren't proud of our mistakes, but the darkest corners of our past have gotten us where we are today. Perhaps the same can be said of you. Is there a part of yourself that you dislike? Of course there is, you're human. I would encourage you to not run from that. Don't ignore the fact that you're insecure or that you need constant affirmation. Even the deepest, most despicable parts of yourself make you who you are. We don't have to live our life like our Pinterest boards. We aren't all sprinkles and perfect abs. Embrace who you are. All of it. The messy and complicated as well. It won't be easy, but know that learning to love your shadow will help make the brightest parts of you shine even greater.
Until next time,