For Gracie’s 19th birthday we surprised her with a trip down to Virginia to meet her favorite author. We arrived an hour before the “meet and greet” and book signing so that the girls could get a seat up close to Kiera Cass. I hung out in the back of the crowd so I could take photos of Gracie’s special experience. As we waited for Kiera Cass to arrive I found myself browsing the shelves to my right. I was surrounded by crowds and didn’t want to lose my prime picture taking spot so I killed time by perusing the self help titles.
I found myself drawn to a particular title:
I picked it up and began reading. By the time Kiera Cass walked into the room I was well into chapter 3. I had never read a secular book that spoke to my soul quite like this one. At the end of the evening I purchased a copy and was up half the night reading it. I couldn’t put it down. It was as if the author had a window into my soul and saw my greatest fears, anxieties and compulsions. She was a fellow perfectionist. And the truth she spoke awakened something within me, inviting me to engage in the hard task of self-assessment. It challenged my way of thinking, made me see the root of my weariness, and invited me to consider a different approach.
I finished the book in a day and was hungry for more of her teachings. I sought out quotes, YouTube videos and interviews, and it was during this search that I stumbled across her OWN Lifeclass. I signed up, eager to dig deeper into the heart of my perfectionism and people pleasing tendencies.
I have a daughter that is much like me. Miss Molly also is burdened by the need to please others and driven by the same miss guided lie that perfection brings peace.
I invited her to embark on a journey of self discovery with me. I bought her a copy of the book, because it is not one you want to share. This is one of those books you mark up with highlighted quotes and notes in the margin.
Two months ago we began the online class together.
“Have you ever thought, “What will people think?” or “I am not good enough,”? New York Times best-selling author and research professor, Dr. Brené Brown will take you through her Guideposts for Wholehearted Living—and leave you feeling more connected and passionate about life. Brené will guide you step-by-step on a joyful, courage-building journey unlike any other. It’s heartwork through artwork.”
Every week, for Molly’s one-on-one time, we pull up our lesson and dive into our self-awareness journey through a series of creative, artistic, “heartwork” projects.
This past week we explored what drives our need for other’s approval. Our creative assignment was to find a photo of ourselves from a time in our life when our choices weren’t driven by the need for approval from others…when we were authentically ourselves.
I found the assignment challenging. For as long as I can remember I have been driven by the fear that if I’m not good enough, smart enough, talented enough, diligent enough, the world will come crashing down. My life is driven by the concern for other’s assessment of me, rather than my desires for my life. It is painfully uncomfortable to be that emotionally naked in front of you all, but that is the truth. My self worth is rooted in my dependability and reliability. My choices are driven by fear and guilt. My worthiness for love is firmly rooted in my ability to “do” rather than simply “be.” I can’t remember the last time I made a decision based solely on my desire to do something.
This is the photo I found to represent my authentic self. Even at this age I still struggled with perfectionism and people pleasing, but it hadn’t fully taken root and there was still a silliness, lightness, and freedom to be myself.
Molly chose this photo:
Which is so perfectly Molly, circa 2006!
Our weekly date is the highlight of my week. I have been powerfully affected by this journey of self awareness, as I have looked the lies that drive my life choices, and challenged them. It has been an uncomfortable journey, as I have shed layer after layer of self protection and have consciously chosen to lean into the discomfort, rather than run from it or numb it.
It has been a joy to share this journey with Molly, as we have embarked on this “heartwork” together. It had drawn us closer and connected us in the way only a shared struggle can.
It has been a joyful journey of growth. How grateful I am for God turning my face to that simple book tucked within the self-help shelves of Barnes and Noble.