(artwork by: Cozy Reverie)
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the new year and all the things I’m excited to bring to my channel and all the other internet-like places How to be Fancy finds itself. This year, more than ever, I want to make sure that I really create space for those of you in my world who have come along on this journey with me (that sounds very official, hey?). By that, I mean I want everyone who somehow manages to click on a video or read a blog or social media post to feel like they have a safe space to explore their creativity right along-side me.
This strange little road to figuring out who you are often begins with a “look” we’re trying to re-create or a style we want to get for ourselves. Or maybe we’re just looking for a few minutes of escape from a world that sometimes feels like a big bully – picking on every little thing we do or wear or say.
Last week, I was so tired and experiencing panic attacks almost every night. Full of irrational fears and letting that little self-critical demon that lives on my shoulder get the best of me. On Thursday night, feeling pretty overwhelmed, I settled in to watch a TV movie based on Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors.
Although Dolly and I are vastly different people, I’ve always been so drawn to her. She seemed so kind – even when all I ever heard people talk about were her “girls” and how she wasn’t the best example of morality for a young lady. As a kid, I remember watching her on interviews where they would ask her the dumbest questions about her nails and weight and she would so gracefully address them, crack a few well-timed jokes and make everyone fall in love. All while doing her own thing pretty dang successfully.
So, back to the moment where I am blissfully snuggled up watching Jennifer Nettles and a feisty little blonde (Alyvia Alyn Lind) portray the story of Dolly’s young life of loss, love, and humble beginnings in the hills of Tennessee. I’ll leave you to find the movie (or listen to the song), but as I watched, I was confronted with the heartbreak of what a culture of shame we live in. My heart broke for a little girl who was literally wearing love on her multi-colored sleeve – so excited about being an individual when she’d only known hand-me-downs – and suddenly she’s blindsided by a community that can only criticize the very things that make her unique.
I think most of us can tell a story of being bullied – by another kid or maybe even by an adult. Of being told we were showing off when we were really just being ourselves. Of wearing the wrong thing, not knowing a pop-culture reference, or for just generally doing something another didn’t approve of. And what happens when we think (or even know) we’ve made a misstep? We let the shame pile on.
We let it wash over us, we let it make us feel insignificant, we let it stop us from being vulnerable. Even worse, we make it a part of who we are – we allow it to become our identity. It darkens our brightest ideas and shatters our courage. That little five letter word (are we sure it’s not four?) creeps into our once-open heart and leaves it broken.
So what happens when those outer words become our inner critic? We place limits on ourselves and begin to doubt our worth and purpose. We let it make our decisions for us. We can even let it decide how we’re supposed to look and act. We become critical of others – because what’s in us so often is what comes out of us. We can look for comfort in addictions, in self-harm, in isolation.
Like little miss Dolly did in the movie (please promise me you’ll watch it), we have to learn to love and trust ourselves and find forgiveness. I want my little place on the internet to be a no-shame zone. A place where it’s okay to be a misfit. Because surrounding yourself with people who believe in you does wonders for a broken heart. I’m just doing my best to create a space where we can feel safe in our creative curiosity, because honestly, that’s what I could use most right now.
So tell me, what makes you feel most like YOU? What things do you WISH you could do but are afraid of being laughed at? What makes you feel like a misfit? I’m here to listen, offer a shoulder and a big ol’ hug if you ever need it!