The long way around
If you need to go somewhere, you want to take the shortest and most direct route possible. We may think we are doing this in our lives with being our true selves and expressing our emotions, but I know that I am guilty of "taking the long way around" to keep my mask on or be whatever person I think I need to be that day.
Can you relate to this? You've agreed to do something like: make an intricate side dish for a cookout, complete a PTA project, or help a family member with a house project. You need to complete this task on a weeknight after several, stressful workdays or days at home with the kids. You haven't slept in a few nights, and your emotions are running wild. You are not okay, but if it's me in this situation, I feel that I must pretend to be.
I tell myself something like: at least I'll seem okay. I'll still do what I committed to doing, and no one will be the wiser. I am all for honoring commitments, but if it's a situation where you can be real, try it. When we hide what we are going through, it always finds a way to come out, usually in a way that we don't want. For me, it comes out as a clenched jaw, snarky comments, or robotic mannerisms. I find in my life when I'm really stressed, emotional and/or having a bad week, my default is to pretend all is okay. It's something I am very skilled with because I've been doing it for most of my life. I know how to smile and wave like I'm on a parade float, while I'm dying inside.
THIS is the long way around. It's pushing yourself to the brink of mental and physical exhaustion to do something because you didn't want to say no or be vulnerable. I am challenging myself to honest and open in the future, and I hope you will join me. Instead of "faking it til we make it", let's take our thoughts out of the darkness of our minds and put them in the light to show others. That will take away some of the power of internal negativity and allow us to feel the freedom of being seen. It may inspire someone else, who is struggling, to be open and share their challenges.
Let's sit with what may feel like our "mess" but is a freeing of ourselves from our expectations. When someone really sees you, it will feel better than anything you could engineer by trying to cover up your feelings.