Friday, August 22, 2014

learning to embrace the sweat stains in life

over at the blog i've been writing this summer, i've been keeping pretty busy tracking all my travels and travails since june. but i haven't had much desire or need to produce deep thoughts. and what's the point of blogging if you're not producing deep thoughts about something? it's just a run down of stuff i've done next to some pictures of my dog. so recently i had cause to write something i'm actually pretty proud of, and i thought i would publish it here as well. 

I'm hard on myself. I expect nothing less than perfection -- I always want myself to be happy, fulfilled, loved and skinny; to look chic and put together; to live up to my potential; and to make the most of the gifts that have been given to me. It's exhausting. And the standards I set for myself are impossible. So if I expect the impossible of myself, then I am setting myself up for failure. Every. Day.

So, now that I've diagnosed the problem, I'm halfway to finding a solution, right? No, I think that is yet another lie I tell myself. Changing my thinking and outlook on life has been a long process and is something I will probably be working on forever. I am an imperfect being; now I have to accept that about myself and cut myself some slack.

If I could stick to my goal of meditating daily (there I go again, beating myself up again for not following through with something) I would use the mantra that my therapist gave me four years ago: I am good. But since I don't repeat this mantra as often as I should, sometimes I need something to remind me to be nicer to myself.

Today, that reminder came in the form of a sweat stain.

I was en route to meet a friend for happy hour drinks. Once again, I had been hard on myself while getting dressed -- nothing fit me right, I felt fat and dumpy -- but I had tried to lighten my mood by wearing a favorite new shirt. As I got off the subway -- feeling slightly sticky in the early evening heat and humidity -- I spotted a woman walking in front of me. She looked impossibly put together in a royal blue shift dress, cork pumps and a big leather purse. I saw her and instantly kicked myself -- she was obviously still dressed up from a day at the office, but on my best days at the office I never look that good. Especially after sitting at a desk all day, my clothes and hair are rumpled and I'm most likely ditching the heels for flats before walking out the door. Why wasn't I brave enough to traverse the cobblestones of Soho in three inch cork heels?

Somehow -- probably because I was in flats and she was teetering along on the cobblestones of Soho in heels -- I managed to catch up to my style icon as we waited to cross Houston. As I approached her, I saw a flaw in her perfect dress. Right around the zipper on her lower back, I saw a sweat stain that was in various stages of drying and leaving a nice salty ring on the back of her dress. Suddenly, the image of my perfect day-to-night office girl came crashing down. This woman wasn't perfect. She may look more dressed up than me, and braver to wear heels, but she was human, too. She was sweating, or had been at some point during the day, just like me.

The message from the universe came through loud and clear: accept yourself as imperfectly human. And when life throws you sweat stains, just put on a pair of heels to distract everyone.


Read more about my post-mba summer here.

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