“You’ll never shine throwing shade“
So here’s the thing. Pray and hope all you like to be a more patient, loving person, but you’re always going to be patient in theory until your wifi slows down or your suppliers don’t respond to emails, or people at pop-ups make snap (mostly entitled or misinformed) judgments, or things just simply don’t go your way.
Patience and lovingkindness need loads of hands-on, real-time practice, especially for someone like me who wants it all. But I don’t just want it all, I wanted it yesterday, and therein lies the tension.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to be living in Singapore: land of efficiency, home that I love. But this season, more than ever, I find myself stretched on the patience front in interactions with others but mostly, myself.
It’s like patience is the pigeon pose. And every time I think I’ve got it, that I’m feeling a nice stretch, the teacher (patience) comes around and pushes you deeper and deeper into that posture.
All this circles back to grace. The grace you extend to others when things aren’t going your way, and the grace you give yourself when you’re messing up so royally.
And I’m learning in this season to also live less triggered. Saw a shady post online? Trying to move past it. Overhead a dodgy statement? Breathing through it. Felt like someone you were generous to is just being plain calculative? Trying to find a middle ground. Whatever it is: the goal is to react less. Not all opinions need to be verbalised or expressed.
Even on a cellular level, we know that stress hormone, cortisol, is the body’s persona non grata over prolonged amounts of time. It has your body in a gridlocked flight-or-fight mode. It makes you edgy, creates inflammation in the body, influences weight gain and a whole bunch of non-helpful things. I realised every time I give into these triggers, I see these manifest in my body. A frozen hip here, an eczema flare up there.
I guess it’s about recognising how you’re feeling in that moment. Acknowledging that it sucks and then deciding one of several things:
a) Save your fucks. This issue won’t matter in a year and it doesn’t warrant a response. I generally recommend saving your fucks for big things that matter – the environment, equality, female empowerment, not stealing other people’s creative work & passing it off as your next brainwave, not doing or accepting dervative work. That sort of thing
b) You need to respond but not before taking time to really process your next move. Pause, and think about how your reacting is going to play out 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 years from now. Pause so that you can regroup and be really intentional with your words. Mostly so you don’t ‘rain down fucks’ on someone as Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck puts it, but also so that you don’t unnecessarily burn any bridges in the heat of anger, as I’ve learned before. (My lessons are expensive)
c) trying to find a conciliatory middle ground and seeing how grace can be extended
So here’s what I’ve begun doing since late last year with varying degrees of success: I see you and your shadiness, your attempt to hurt because you are hurt or insecure, and possibly envious (though you don’t know it just yet—because see, what haters do, is hate on you, then copy), and simply, look away without judgement.
In the immortal words of Coco Chanel, “I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.”
I focus my joy and the light of my being, and give myself to what really matters. I diffuse. I move on. You’re not living rent free in here *places hand on head and over heart simultaneously*
Hypothalamus, you can relax. Tell all your other friends: the adrenals, the limbic system and the like that you are safe and not under threat. You are whole. Nothing is going to get you down.
And remember, you’ll never shine throwing shade. And impatience with yourself or a situation, is not going to get you to where you want to be any faster.
We sat in a cafe talking about our year. Me, a nobody with a little label. My friend, the founder of a multi-million dollar beauty brand gone global. On the outside, we don’t have that much in common. But we do share the same faith and are guided by common values.
When I asked how 2017 had gone for her, she didn’t hold back on both the good and the bad.
The encounter was brief, but I feel that hearing her story and sharing a bit of mine, was the most healing thing that had happened in the past few months.
The same feeling of relief washed over me when I read Lisa Bevere’s Without Rival just days earlier. A book about embracing ‘your identity and purpose in an age of confusion and comparison’, I found Bevere’s honest and broken revelations incredibly reassuring and empowering.
The fact that she openly and in such a gutsy way, shared her life’s challenges – right down the most intimate of details – made me realise I’d never get anywhere or help anyone if I continued to life and operate in the same paradigm as I am. You know…. Keeping people at arm’s length (because you never know when they’re going to cut you off or use you). Never telling my story (because they’re going to judge you). Generally, not wanting to rely on others (because they’re going to let you down). And that whole thing of pitting and comparing yourself to others (why bother, you suck anyway).
A few days ago, I was riding home in an Uber when I heard a little voice in my heart tell me, “Just drop it.”
It was such a voice of peace and security, not one of fear, desperation or exhaustion. Just drop it.
It being all that you would have read in the previous handwritten post.
Where my word for the past several years would have been ‘escape’ and all the connotations that come with it, I no longer want to escape. I want to live free, untethered, un-weighed down by all the toxic feelings and situations I/we tend to want to take responsibility for.
So done with that.
In 2018, I’m inviting more balance and lightness into my life. In the words of Lysa TerKeurst in Uninvited to ‘live loved’. That is to say, operating with grace, being ok with who you are (and being unafraid to show it), remembering that you’re not forgotten or left out, and to see things as falling in place (instead of merely falling apart). x
Can you read my writing?
IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED THIS YEAR
The phone works both ways Never let yourself be guilted or manipulated by people who take and never give, only to play victim when you walk away from their toxic game. As a mentor of mine rhetorically questions, why are we nicer to people who mistreat us?
Just show up Whether it’s for a one month year old’s party, a friend’s engagement brunch, a wake or a wedding, success in maintaining life’s relationships pretty much boils down to just showing up, I think. You may not have the right things to say. You may be internally griping that you’re wasting a perfectly good Saturday morning, or that you’d much rather be in bed. And you can forget worrying about bringing the perfect gift. I learned while looking around me at our weddings, that all that matters is the people in the room with you. Whatever they were feeling that day, they chose to be there for you when they didn’t have to. And if you can’t make it, for goodness sake, send a card and flowers, would you?
It’s all going to come out anyway You might as well just be your real, fatally flawed, deeply feeling self from the start. The truth is going to scare who it needs to scare and ultimately, attract the people who are really unafraid to love you as you are.
What did you learn this year?