This year, with my New Years Resolutions, I reaaaally wanted to reign in anxiety I’d developed about trying new things. I wanted to say yes and be open to opportunities, and say no/set boundaries (see last post) in other areas of my life. And I feel like I’ve been blessed with opportunities to say yes, but also, I’ve been given a little perspective.
There seems to be this human nature-y thing, kind of an impulse that I think women are especially vulnerable to, (not sexist, people, just an effect of societal conditioning) which is the thought, “That person is great at that” equating “I suck at that.” I don’t know exactly why that is, but I’ve been thinking about it this year. A few of the speakers in conference talked about a mark of real love being that you have true joy without comparison over the successes and joys of others — even the kind of thrill you would feel if it were happening to you personally.
When I was little, I got to go on lots of solo trips with my mom to Southern Utah (because I had the least extra-curricular activities going on) to see my grandma in Panguitch at the nursing home before she passed away. My favorite part of those trips was the tangibly magic moment when both sides of the road would fan out to open wilderness, not a house in sight. The open and the peace would wash over the car, and on cue, my mom would talk to me. Not about anything specific, but also about everything important. She’d tell me stories about her childhood and her family members, with laughter and detail richer than every day life at home could afford.
Every time she told me about her maternal Grandma, Theora, she told me first of her defining characteristic – the absolute joy she had for other people – for their pursuits and their successes and their dreams. She was absolutely tickled and thrilled to death about all news and ventures big and small, because she loved purely. And no matter who you were, if she heard your good news or your success, she was as thrilled as if it were happening to her. Period. As a stay-at-home mom in a rural town, with no college education (and I don’t even think a driver’s license!) she could have easily been jealous of others and their opportunity. But she never was. She loved herself and her opportunities and she loved others and their opportunities, and didn’t see the two as mutually exclusive.
You’re thinking, when do we start talking about High School Musical again? PLZ, we will get there. Stay with me. A mentality I suffer from when I’m being insecure is that I can’t do something because someone else already does it – it’s their thing and not mine, and they do it so much better. “They’re great at that, so I would/do suck at it.” Another dangerous mentality is, “That’s my thing, and they can’t do that/like that/participate because it threatens ME or MY talents or MY success with said thing.”
Both of those thinking processes suck, and if I may be so bold, are totally incorrect and totally not part of real love, for yourself, for your fellow man, and for your universe.
But they’re natural. And I get that. We often feel like we, and others, should stick to that status quo.
HELLO HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL. FINALLY WE HAVE ARRIVED.
Sometimes your natural man sees someone else succeeding at something you’ve worked hard to establish as an interest or success of your own, and you’re feeling threatened like, “NO NO NOOOOO! STICK TO THE STUFF YOU KNOW. IF YOU WANT TO BE COOL, FOLLOW ONE SIMPLE RULE, DON’T MESS WITH THE FLOW, NO NOOOO. STICK TO THE STATUS QUO.” Hahahaha. But. Really.
I just want to write down and remember that this year I’ve been able to crush the status quo mentality in myself the way Zac Efron crushes that “We’re All In This Together” dance routine for the big finish. (I am cracking myself up. Sorry not sorry.) Here are a few examples I feel comfortable sharing in a public place, because y’all, I do NOT need to blog about overcoming my gym fears. SHE’S LIFTING 80 POUNDS AND CHUGGING GALLONS OF WATER AND I HAVE NEVER EVEN KNOWN IF I AM DOING A BURPEE CORRECTLY SO DO I JUST GO HOME OR WHAT. It’s too easy to do. I digress. Ahem. A few examples:
In the next few months, I’m doing makeup for a couple brides for photos and their wedding day. I NEVER thought I would do that because hello, I know a little, but makeup is my sister Brittany’s thing. She has stinking YouTube tutorials and all kinds of professional experience and knowledge. But as Britt’s support and encouragement reminded me, we can both like and enjoy something, even if we’re at different places in the learning process. It’s not a threat to either party. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow and bond. And after the first trial run this week, sending her pictures of my work, she was over the moon for me. Her being a makeup genius doesn’t lessen her joy in my smaller success, and it doesn’t mean I should back down from an interest or a love that I have for it either.
In March, Britt and Richie asked me to take my new niece’s newborns. And I was secretly horrified. Because I’ve never taken a photography class in my life, and Cody is the one with photography skills, so they should’ve asked him… Right? I’ve always wanted to learn more, but are your child’s newborns REALLY the time? And as much as joy as I have always found in pictures, I wouldn’t qualify my nature walks and theater events on my pink digital camera of yesteryear as a portfolio persay. But Britt had faith, and Cody had faith. Cody didn’t feel threatened that more and more, I like photography too. He felt excited to show me things and help me and work together. And when I brought the pictures back, begging him to fix my perceived inadequacies, he pointed out my successes as excitedly as if they were his own. I saw the pictures I’d taken with new eyes because someone had love and faith in me, like my Great-grandma Theora did in everyone. And that faith has given me the confidence to say yes to birthday pictures for my friend’s daughter Friday — because I really like it, and the amount of crazy talented photographers in my circle of friends and family doesn’t somehow restrict my ability to like it and to learn about it. (Special shout-out to my cousin Kim for being so excited about pictures and reminding me of that.) I only THINK it does.
THAT DANG STATUS QUO, THOUGH.
I am really blessed, because I have lots of good examples of the kind of love that shatters the status quo, and not just from all of our pals at EAST HIGH. I have sisters-in-law who both run small businesses, and they build each other up, relate, and even collaborate at times. Our brother-in-law is in the same field as Cody, and he’s been incredibly welcoming and helpful and supportive to Cody as he gets started. He’s been SO kind. Cody’s excitement and successes are his. My sisters were both involved in theatre, but their support of me all through high school was anything but possessive and competitive. My joys were their joys, and my attempts and adventures had their full support. I could go on, there are a lot of truly loving people, but you get the picture.
So what I’m saying in this post, and what I hope to remember moving forward this year: it’s okay to like things other people like, it’s okay for other people to like what you like. And it’s ESPECIALLY important that there be more Theora’s in the world – more people genuinely thrilled for the successes of others without feeling threatened or having inward-focused thoughts. Imagine the potential people would reach if we just let go of those two funny ways of thinking! Imagine the teaching, the love, the friendships! We actually ARE all in this together. (cue clapping because I still remember the whole dance routine) I’m not interested in “competing” with anyone, while I learn, while they learn, whatever. “Status-quo” thoughts are so High School Musical. I hope we all make it, and develop our talents and pursue our passions. whatever they may be, whether we have them in common or not. I hope we all feel we are allowed to try and that people are on our team. I hope we KILL that status quo like Gabriella killed her audition. (Hahaha. I CAN’T STOP.)
And I really hope I can show the same love, excitement, and encouragement that’s been shown to me.