We all want to be happy, right? Of course. I have created my life and my work around the idea of happiness.
And happiness is “pretty”, it looks good, a smile “increases your face value”…
In a personality assessment I took as part of a job years ago, I was told that one of my highest values was “aesthetics”. In other words, it is very important to me for things—and for me—to be “pretty”.
A friend once told me that I like for everything to be “pretty”. That is literally the word she used. She said, “You want everything to be pretty. And you don’t like XYZ, because that’s not pretty.”
More recently, my therapist has helped me to understand that, because of my upbringing, I regard negative feelings as “ugly” and therefore unacceptable. Positive feelings are, conversely, “pretty”.
And I do love pretty things, which is part of why I am always dressed cute, with my hair and nails and makeup just so, and why I love clothes and interior design and movies with lush cinematography.
My husband is very intuitive about people, their personalities and their emotions. And he can peg me in my anger or sorrow or feelings of inadequacy every time.
Well, dang. Ya caught me.
And you know what?
I hate that.
I hate being transparent.
I hate not being able to control what you see about me.
I hate my own fear that, if there is something in my mind or heart that isn’t “pretty”, you might know it. And then you won’t like me.
Brilliant sociologist and thought-leader Brené Brown says that shame comes from the fear that, if someone knew or even suspected a “not-pretty” thing about you, you would not be allowed to belong. You would be rejected.
And community and connection are what we humans are all about. It is a biological fact that we need one another. Early humans rarely survived for long by themselves. Like wolves and apes, we instinctively crave communion with others of our kind.
And now I get to my own Ugly Truth, and if you reject me, I’m gonna have to figure out how to live with that:
I am not perfect. I am not always happy. I am not always pretty. My feelings are not always something I feel proud of. There are aspects of my life—what I do and have, or don’t do or have—that I feel shame about.
But here’s my big problem: it’s not only important to me personally that my life be pretty. My being happy—or “pretty”—is vital to my work, my mission in life, and what I believe and understand to be my destiny.
Specifically, how can I inspire you if I am not happy most of the time?
How can I serve you if I don’t have it all figured out?
How can I guide you to be happier if I am not utterly, perfectly, and “prettily” happy all the time?
Those are hard questions for me. Oh, sure, I know you’ll “forgive” me for having a negative thought. You’ll understand that I am not perfect—nobody is, right?
But it is so important to me to be such a shining, brilliant example of joy and beauty and how great life can be that I am loathe to let you know that there’s anything about me that isn’t “pretty”.
And honey, I gotta admit, there’s plenty.
- I struggle with my closest relationships and communication within them.
- I am still learning how to feel like I am acceptable (and how to function without loads of anxiety) as an ADHDer in a neurotypical world—the revelation of which I came to very late in life. And that is a whole other “not-pretty” thing in itself, which I will spare you right now.
- I worry about money. No, I don’t worry about how I’m going to eat, but I do worry about paying for things I want, and how I am going to take care of myself and others I love if I don’t make enough money. And there are many things and experiences that I want very dearly that I don’t have the money for today.
- I often feel like a failure in one or more areas of my life, sometimes in all of them.
- And, although I have worked hard to banish shame (because it tried to kill me!, but I will save that for another time), it still rears its ugly head from time to time. Like right now. I don’t know if I will ever be able to show this essay to anyone. At least not without enormous trepidation.
- Worst of all, I’m afraid that, if I don’t show up for you all rich and doing all the Richie Rich things, you won’t be inspired to make your life “pretty” too.
Go figure–even MoJo gets the blues.
P.S. Here’s a little disclaimer to wrap this up, lest you think I am on the verge of tears or worse:
- Much of my life experience has been and continues to be beyond pretty.
- I really do consciously manifest what I want, love, and enjoy.
- There are many aspects of my Self that I love and adore and feel confident about.
- I love and am loved by many beautiful people.
- I have had tons of experiences that have enriched my life and given me pleasure and happiness.
- I know, at least on a conscious level, that I do belong.
- I am very confident in Destiny and my place in the world, even though I can sometimes be shy about “letting my light shine”.
- I know in my heart that I am here to help a few or several or thousands of people to be and do and have “pretty” in their lives too.
- And, finally, I love that I have the privilege to do the work I do, even when I feel like I’m “not pretty right now”.