You know the kind of stories that have been really eating at me for a while?
They are taking over my feed, sponsored and unsponsored, and I for sure must have told one or two of those myself in the years you’ve known me... The kind of stories coming from someone who’s succeeded so greatly and so irrevocably at something they used to suck at, that now all they can do is tell us how to succeed at this thing in our turn, how not to suck and not fail greatly in this particular life direction that they have now mastered.
You know the ones? “My whole life I was (insert unwanted state here): fat/sad/poor and barely scraping by, depressed and unwanting to live, unable to push through my money ceiling, a loveless and hopeless romantic who searched for my soulmate, a great artist with a terrible business mind… you name it. The years of misery dragged on painfully, until I discovered this one simple secret, and then boiled it down to these 3 easy steps. And everything turned upside down: Now I live in heaven on Earth. Just put in your email address right here and you will get the free video with my secret right in your inbox! Or sign up for a discovery session with me, and let’s do this together. Meantime, check out my website to see how I’ve already changed the lives of dozens of people!
I mean, don’t you want this?! Make 6 figures as easily as the summer breeze shuffles your hair; manifest the perfect relationship and shake off the old story that you can’t find love, in which you are the sad character to blame; get the perfect beach body in 2 weeks and keep it forever; overcome your terrible sex life and burst into true orgasmic eros….
As if in order to be a legit and masterful human who now even deserves to have clients or a reputation, we must have ‘arrived’ and now live some absolute story, which took forever but now that it’s here, we are just so absolutely ready and worthy and needed... And of course, this new story never changes coz we’ve just got it now and we have it by the leash. Ha!
It is sad to feel the overwhelming pain of a culture that pushes us to build our lives on the illusory foundation of absolute success, on the perfect image, a fairy tale that keeps selling even while the protagonist is hiding in the basement binging on cookies and Netflix when the going gets rough and there is no way (s)he could show that weakness! This is the western hero archetype manifest: You go on a journey, you face its devastating trials but you slay the dragons and now you’re at the top of the mountain, drinking the elixir, maybe even saving the princes, and most definitely bringing medicine back to the people who are still trying to climb up!
We all have a version of this going on, we do the happy ‘success and arrival’ dance in front of our people in some way or form–– and it is certainly not all obsolete: We need our success rituals as much as we need any other.
But why, instead of inspiration, it is it real sadness that comes over me when I read these grand “let me show you the secret because i found it” posts?
Truth be told, our stories, our love lives, our bodies, our health, our moneys will never be an unchanging success and a goal 'finally achieved'. Today I love my body and am filled with gratitude for its amazingness, tomorrow I struggle, I want it to be fitter, stronger, thinner, younger. One day aging is a beautiful thing, my wise womanness counts and it’s all a journey of grace, the next day my getting older is suddenly a harsh monologue, a confrontation with the mirror, a full day of lamenting and nostalgia for what will never be mine anymore...
Isn’t is so, always so: Your perfect beloved is here one minute, the next you two are wrestling in the fire pit of anger, then the storm passes or it doesn’t, your paths weave further together, or they split. And again, you walk... You walk further and begin climbing another mountain, and just because you get to a lookout or the slope gets softer and opens an easy-walk through a valley, it doesn’t mean you– or I, or anyone– have found the eternal map to easy-walking.
You can hold my hand, yes, share with me what you’ve learned and felt , and how you fell and got up again and how your heart hurt while you did it. I want this all-imperfect humanness of yours more than anything, in it I trust– and in mine. If you must win me, my money, my admiration, my commitment, you'll have to lead with your vulnerability, with your hesitation as much as your confidence, your raw heart now, and now again. It is the shaky notes in your voice that I listen for; they speak from wisdom. Now you can be my true hero––in your trembling I find your real courage, your power. Now yes, I want to be your student and your client and your friend, because I can trust you with my imperfect life.
There ain’t any 3 simple steps to this, and we both know it. So let’s take the many thousand real steps it takes to be a greatly living, falling, winning, failing, searching human that walks strong, unsure, and exposed amidst the high winds of this journey–– never ahead of anyone else, but always walking the unlikely path of vulnerable authenticity.
Tell me your stories from that place, and I am all yours.