You know the key to maintaining a great looking life? Fake it till you make it. Regardless of your state of mind/being, bear down and get shit done. Just go ahead and fake whatever it is you want to be as long as it takes for it to overtake you. Then, voila!
I bet your life looks picturesque and glowy. Ta freaking da!
From personal experience, I’ll also bet that on the inside, you’re a house of cards. Because, although faking it long enough to make it can be an efficient option, it doesn’t prioritize an internal foundation. Your result may look good, but there is no real substance. The happiness/joy/success on the surface does not well up from the deep. It’s just there, on the surface, ready to be swept away on a whim.
When Isaac accepted the job and our Portland move became real, I decided that throughout the transition I would let my feelings come. I made this disclaimer known to my close friends and family as almost a warning of waterworks to come. I wanted to fully embrace the feelings that welled up, regardless of their nature. (Note: This is very different from the “fake it till you make it” approach I know so intimately.)
And basically, I cried a lot in California before we left… Oregon has seen some tears too.
A wise yoga instructor once said, “if that was difficult, let it have been difficult. There is no reason to pretend something that was difficult wasn’t difficult.”
That notion resonates with me. Not just with difficulty, but rather with the entire spectrum of emotions. So, I translate it to this: Feel what you feel.
Feel what you feel. There is no sense in pretending that something that is hard/sad/lonely/maddening/emotional isn’t. It’s the converse of fake it till you make it. It’s more like, feel it till you really feel it.
Feel it. Don’t judge it. Don’t assign it value. Don’t worry about what says about you. Let your emotions go where they want to.
Because, it’s in those feelings that we grow our capacity to relate, empathize, and love. We become even more human.
This move is a big change for us. Huge. One of the things that enticed me the most about the change was the growth it would mean for our family – from little 2 year old Vera to big 32 year old me. I want us to lean into this transition and learn as much as possible from it. But, to do so, we must fully experience all aspects of it – the challenges, fears, inconveniences, surprises (pleasant or otherwise) and all the newness.
For me personally, it means daring to keep my walls down. To let the feelings come. To call them out. To identify them. To allow them to linger.
This is something I have been working on for years. And at the risk of sounding prideful, I’ve gotten pretty good at it. As a norm, I am aware of my feelings. And when I’m in a healthy place, I’m smart enough not to judge or assign them value. I allow the feelings to impact me and my plans. I let go of the tendency to self-correct and suppress. I lean in.
Let me tell you, it’s messier and less efficient than the fake it till you make it route. On some days it means public displays of emotion… Which is rather inconvenient if you’re someone (like moi) who loves to have her shit together. But, what’s messy, inefficient, inconvenient in the short-term promises stellar results in the long-term.
If the foundation is our priority – the roots of our self-worth and value – then feeling what we feel is the way to go. We grow as we feel. We learn about ourselves – our triggers, fears, desires and wishes. We build capacity to empathize and relate to the wonderful (yet at times hurting) world around us. We become more whole.
Towards the end of last week I started to feel, well, homesick. Reality began to sink in reminding me, “Girl, you are not on vacation. This is your life. You’re not going to head home soon. This is home.”
I felt sad. I felt lonely. I felt like the change was too big. I was afraid we went too far. That we left too much behind.
The weather outside looked about how I felt. Gray.
I resisted the urge to take on the city, meet people, accomplish things, kick ass and make all the sadness go away (or down deep)! Instead, I stayed in the apartment until 3pm, only leaving in the late afternoon to get my kids a very minimal amount of exercise and grab a few necessities at the grocery store.
I spent the day talking on the phone with my brother, my dad and a few best friends. Later that night, I sat on the couch with Isaac and cried.
I owned it – This is hard. I’m sad. I miss my people. I miss life back home.
There was no faking it. (There was also no making it, ha!)
The greyness in my mind lingered for a few days. I felt blah. And while I didn’t let my emotions sabotage healthy habits or my character, I also didn’t ignore them. (Note: there’s a fine line between feeling what you feel and letting your life spiral out of control in the direction of your feelings. More on that another time, my friends.)
But, two days later, as we hiked around Multnomah Falls, I felt a shift. I saw another side of this huge transition – I felt the adventure, not the loss. And the adventure is real and valuable and worth it. We walked on the trail in the rain and I felt happy and excited. My little and family and I are right where we’re meant to be.
Today, again I am filled with optimism and excitement, both for the short and long term. This is a huge change – and a big change is what we’re seeking. So, we’re on track! We’re doing it and I’m feeling it as we go along.
While we may be on track, the emotions might still lag behind. I’m fully expect it. Heck, I welcome it! Because, change is difficult and I am not about to pretend something that is difficult isn’t difficult. I am going to feel what I’m feeling. I am going to grow my capacity to empathize, relate and love. I am going to become more whole through this experience.
It’s authenticity that I want, for myself and my relationships. It’s wholeness that I am committed to. Deep and healthy roots that give me confidence in my worth and in assurance of my value are what I want.
It’s worth the investment and the vulnerability. Thank you for letting me feel my feelings with you. Cheers to adventure and becoming better humans.