“you as a work-in-progress, are whole and worthy of being seen, just as you are.” – b. oakman
When I think back, a lot of who I am now, I have always been. I remember hearing it in High School and even earlier then that. I remember sitting at a table at Tortolita Middle School, right next to the “cart”. (you know, the one you had to have cash for, not the crappy cafeteria food…) The comment was worded differently, but always held the same idea:
“I’m jealous of how authentic you are.”
Middle School Sarah didn’t think this was a compliment – it just meant I didn’t fit in (although Adult Sarah looks back and laughs because really, even when I was ‘weird’ I always “fit in”). High School Sarah took it as a compliment, mostly thinking “how ‘authentic’ can I be, before these people de-friend me?” (the answer was never).
What do I mean authentic? I mean “original”. I mean being who you believe you are. In middle and high school, this would mean being the angst filled skater girl on the outside, while being the “preppy” girl on the inside (hence why I hung out with cheerleaders, jocks AND skater bois – all the pieces are coming together now). How could I possibly be both? and WHY would I even do that?!
While writing this, a friend of mine (Kaleigh of Illegibly, K.M. West) tossed me a little truth bomb. Authenticity, then and now, gives us a veil over our true selves – a “Facade”; in a sense, its a human marketing ploy. Authenticity is thrown at us, as this really great descriptive word, but 9/10 times, our “Authentic” selves, don’t match our insides (skater girl vs. Hollister girl; news flash 13-year-old Sarah, you can be both). I think what those middle school friends of mine meant at the time was Genuine. In Kaleigh’s exact words, “Being genuine… requires that you maintain the same face regardless of your audience…. It asks you to decide who you want to be, and then dares you to live up to it.”
In my opinion, this comment (one that I still receive often), was a comment that said “Sarah, you are vulnerable, and you are real, and you are a light; but I can’t bear to be any of those things because its scary and its risky.”
Fast forward a few years, and I wonder “where did I lose that organic, real, honest, genuine spirit.” I think to a lot of years where I thought I was that, but in reality, I had built up this Facade.
Again, I can pinpoint the moment. Honestly, at the time, I was fully leaning in to being and finding myself. I was attending a prestigious beauty school, I had some INCREDIBLE friends and teachers – both who challenged me to level up. In fact, I was leaning in so hard, I caught “the guy”. I’d be willing to attribute that catch to the genuine girl I was leaning in to. The problem is – I lost her almost immediately.
I “thought” I was supposed to lean in to being a mom, to being a wife, to being a “good” christian (whatever that means), Oklahoma girl. I thought.
Today, my first surprise girl turns Seven. ( S E V E N) . In her short life, she’s had a hundred different moms, each one desperately trying to balance being” perfectly authentic”. But somewhere in all of those mothers, genuine, true-to-self Sarah was lost. she was so far gone, I was certain the missing persons report I had filed was turning into a “cold case”.
The day Amelya was born, was the day reality really confronted me. A slap in the face that my entire life had truly changed. I had left my dream life behind and moved across the country, just to give this baby a shot, with this man I barely knew. A few days before we were due to be induced, I remember vividly, laying in our tiny bed, his hands wrapped around my egg-shaped belly, willing my husband–a near stranger– could just feel what I felt, because I was unable to confess to him my fears for fear of letting him and our unborn baby girl down. I didn’t want him to see that the genuine girl he had loved had disappeared. That she was now merely painted shudders and planted annuals. I was afraid to be as vulnerable as a felt, so I hid it. I painted the nursery sparkly pink, I hung up glam decor because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. I was #blessed. I had a beautiful home, I had married into a beautiful family and I was slowly making “friends”, but inside, I was crumbling.
I was braving the January air that year, and the following four in an expensive coat, but with a poor heart.
As one girl turned into two, and two to three, every smiling friend I made added to my guilt. I was so desperate to belong I clung to people who also had beautiful exteriors. I volunteered all of myself to people I thought I could trust; they were kind, beautiful, Jesus loving individuals. At least I believed they had it all together, although looking back their foundations were cracking, waiting for one of those Oklahoma earthquakes to shatter them. As soon as my exterior began to crack, I could feel their glares at me; their entire bodies radiated with hatred through their designer clothes. They judged my husband, my family, and me. They took my confessions, and “blessed my heart”, but behind my back, dropped them, like shattered eggs in the grocery isle for everyone to stare at.
That was the evidence I needed to reopen my cold-case. To review the file. The reality is, holding myself together outwardly did nothing but create turmoil in my heart. It caused me to view the world in a light I vowed I never would. It made my previously loving, grace-filled heart, tinier than the Grinch’s when he was eating garbage on Mt. Crumpit!
Now I know, being genuine means living up to my true potential, and never backing down. It means working hard to ensure that the person I am, is the person I want to be, and the person I offer outwardly. It means offering my husband and my daughter(s) a mom and woman who is flawed but consistent and true to them. The example I set is the one they will follow, and I hope that it is one where they learn to build a home as beautiful on the inside as it is to anyone passing by.
As a writer, all I can hope for is that my vulnerability impacts my readers, but friends, if you can’t be vulnerable, you need better support. You need to power wash your homes facade; let the dirt and the mud run down the walls. It is easy for me to put myself out here because I know the integrity of my home and of my foundation. I have a community who I know, above all else, will love me just the same. and YOU DO TOO (call me, we’ll talk 😊).