I recently had new professional headshots taken, and I almost didn’t want to tell you about it because I’m afraid it will make me sound too fancy or unapproachable. I didn’t want you to think I was “too much.”
There’s another part of me I don’t always want you to see — the part who feels “not enough.” It’s the messy me, the one who is writing these words today. I’m still in my pajamas even though it’s half past noon. Right now, a week’s worth of unfolded laundry sits in a pile on our bedroom floor. I don’t remember when I last washed the sheets. If I let you see that woman, what would you think of her?
Every day, you and I make decisions about which person we will share with the world. Sharing either one feels risky because someone might put us in a box. And we can’t breathe in boxes.
But what if we didn’t have to choose? What if we decided we were a complicated mix of humanity that can’t be boxed up into “headshot girl” or “messy girl”?
Recently, on Instagram, I posted a picture of headshot girl. Here she is:
The next day, I posted an image of “messy girl” in all her glory. Ahem…
There’s a lot of talk these days about being “the real you,” so which of the above is the real me?
Both of them.
I am not either/or. I am both/and.
I’m a t-shirt-and-yoga-pants girl (even though my yoga pants have never been to yoga), but every once in a great while, this mama slaps on a little lipstick, swooshes mascara around, puts on a pretty dress and cute shoes and wants to feel beautiful.
I burn cookies. I say bad words when I stub my toes on the bedpost. I love Jesus, but I think awful thoughts. I look organized, but I’m lazy enough that my clean clothes lay in a pile on the floor for a week or more. That’s the real me for sure.
I am not either/or. I am both/and.
I will wear my Hello Kitty bathrobe on a conference call with my publisher, and I will get dressed up for my new headshots.
I love the Lord and I forget to have my quiet time.
I am a type-A achiever and a procrastinator.
I am a Christian and I vote all over the political spectrum.
I am a lover and I am a fighter.
I can feel pretty on the outside some days and ugly on the inside. Other days, it’s reversed.
I can preach about not needing your approval and want it desperately at the same time.
I can tell you what it takes to be happy and I can cry myself to sleep.
I will say, “It’s all under control” and still cling tightly to my own preferences and plans.
I can put up a new picture of myself and worry that I shouldn’t.
I am “simul iustus et peccator,” which is a fancy Latin way of saying I am both saint and sinner.
I am both a clinger of amazing grace and the wretch the song refers to.
Both wretched and loved. Both ruined and recreated. Both faithful and doubting.
I am a paradox, but this is me — both/and.
I don’t know where these words find you today, but I’m guessing you’ve felt what I’ve felt. You feel like a paradox, too. Maybe it’s like this:
You sell makeup as your side hustle, and you know you’d sell more if you’d do an online tutorial video, but you don’t want anyone to think you’re “too much” or too vain. What if they put you in a box marked “shallow”?
Your kids want to go to the beach, but you decide against wearing your swimsuit because you think you’re “not enough,” and you don’t want to be put in a box that says “out of shape.”
You got a job promotion, but you don’t tell anybody because you are worried about the box that reads “successful,” and you worry you’ll come off as arrogant or intimidating.
You’ve been super lonely and a new friend whom you adore just showed up at your doorstep. You pretend you’re not home because your kitchen is a disaster. The last time you saw her you were wearing super cute ankle boots and your hair was on point. You’d rather be in a box labeled “hip” instead of “messy.”
But what if you are both hip and messy? What if you are successful and silly?
Friend, get your both/and self out there today. Slap on a little lipstick if that’s your style, and show us what you’ve got. Wear the cute dress or your drawstring pants if you prefer. (Elastic waistbands are my BFF.) Invite the whole book club to your house, and when it comes time to serve snacks, pull out a bag of Funyuns. Or if you just made the best Keto cookie ever, by all means, serve it! You do you.
You don’t belong in a box, and neither does any other woman you know.
You know what I think about boxes? Boxes are stupid. Let’s throw away the stupid boxes.
You are more complex than a stupid box.
You are a pecular, paradoxical, beautiful mix spilling out of the box and into the world.
What a wonder you are, as you are.
Not either/or, but both/and.