(Not the fabric one – your social one)
So many of us say we are fine without a second’s thought, when asked, even when we feel like we’ve been run over by a bus and the train’s headlights are getting nearer.
How about trying to toss that proverbial mask that we put on every morning to present to the world, and risk being real? I know it takes a huge leap of faith: you’re breaking a fundamental social rule and a long list of expectations. Most of us are raised in a culture where it’s important to have other people believe that we’re OK. Social media has made that so much worse. How many people do you know who post unhappy shots on Instagram, or tell you about their really sketchy bank balance on Facebook? Images? Thank goodness for editing apps that take away the extra inches, the skew smile and the blotchy skin.
What would happen if you had the courage to get real?
Right now, there are possibly millions of us who are genuinely not OK.
And that’s OK.
You see, what seems like a very long time ago, we and 8-billion others were told to step away from one another, get into our homes and stay there for weeks, which became months. We were told not to touch or trust anyone. We were told we, or our loved ones were best served if we did not go near them. We were told that millions … our loved ones …we … might die sooner than we’d imagined. Fear and anxiety seemed like mild labels for the emotions we lived and breathed. Then we started losing jobs, incomes and relationships (lockdown was a real tester for that one!)
Don’t you think that your tribe will love the courage of your truth? You’ll rapidly find that you’re not alone in your refreshing new honesty and you’ll be opening yourself to some very real, raw and bonding conversations. I encourage you to share your stories. Share your insecurities. Give a name to your fears.
Humans are born with the need to control our world and this has us constantly scrambling for order and predictability. Sorry to confirm your fears, but that’s not going to come anytime soon. So what can we do?
Well, we can start with being honest with ourselves and our tribe. Then work on shifting attitudes: take a moment to consider what is in your control to change – where you can make changes that will benefit your state of being. The answer is: inside yourself. This is a time to acknowledge and care for yourself. Find normality in what IS, rather than what WAS.
What are you doing right now that is positive? Give yourself some credit, whether you are mastering a basic new skill or honing an existing one; working 16 hours a day to keep your team (or your life) together, or grabbing more than the usual amount of down time for Netflix. That’s all good, if it’s what you need. I honestly believe that our long periods of isolation have ultimately brought healthy introspection in most of our lives. We’ve been forced to face the rawness of everything we’ve considered a foible or a flaw. And guess what? You’ve come out the other side, with a new acceptance of yourself and fresh perspectives. Wow. How great does that feel? Now harness the courage to show the world the (even slightly) shifted you.
So … My advice, when you next step out, is to take the fabric mask, but leave the social one at home. Let’s be okay with not being OK. Bring your authenticity to the table. Speak your truth in conversations: you’ll be opening up channels for others to share their weaknesses – and all find strength together.