A few years ago, I had an idea in my head of what success and/or interesting-ness meant; and it was perfect everything everywhere. I would have my shit TOGETHER, people. I would not have a hair out of place, I would not make a mistake. I would lock it up and not show emotion. I would be perfect.
Then, I met a woman who would later become a mentor. She was in her sixties, probably, and the second I saw her my insides told me that she would play a significant role in my life. I knew she was stunning before I met her, because google, and because reputation, but her presence left my jaw on the floor. She radiated poise, such shit-together-ness, that she glided with confidence. She gently commanded respect from all who knew her. I knew she worked her butt off, and she was officially my role model.
One day, she casually mentioned that she was on her second marriage, which duh, meant she was divorced. For a second, her perfect ideal shattered in my head. “What?! Divorce? Really? Why? But you’re so perfect. You can’t be divorced.” Admittedly, I was a little judgey about this, and shocked at the revelation.
As our relationship developed, we ended up having several heart to hearts, and she mentioned how the divorce was an excruciating time in her life, how she had little money to support her kid and they couldn’t afford to eat meat, how the general feeling of it all was unbearable. I realized the poise, the beauty, all of it came from rising above destruction. She said “you know, when you go through really shitty things, it sucks, but at least it’ll make you interesting.”
Rob Bell mirrors this sentiment. He says that when he meets someone who is interesting and/or captivating, he KNOWS THEY HAVE SUFFERED. This notion is infinitely interesting in and of itself. For so long, I got mad at myself for making mistakes, for not being “normal”, for being “weird” or “awkward”, having a silly brain, for being the girl that makes weird jokes or has a weird laugh or eats weird or whatever. But people tell me there is something about me. Something special they can’t quite put their finger on. And I now understand, that it is only because I have suffered. From many angles, but partially because I put myself through a lot of self-imposed suffering. Whether it was my fault or not, the bottom line is the suffering was present.
The suffering serves as a chisel to beautify you, to strengthen you, to give you bravery. Each time that I am going through something crappy, I ponder over how it can shape me, how it can be good, how it can make me more beautiful.
I am now uninterested in the perfect, and in a seamless, untarnished life. Bring on the uncertainty, the nitty gritty, the hardships. You should, too. Because it’s one of the only ways you’ll be interesting to others.
As you find this out, make this easy crab salad with citrus, because although it is not conventional (because how retro is crab salad? Usually it makes me yawn, but I’m actually a fan of this one), it is very interesting.
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