Do you ever find yourself scrolling through your Facebook feed only to see pictures of someone’s Pinterest perfect Meatless Monday dish as you wait in anticipation for your frozen pizza to finish baking? Do you notice those gym selfies on Instagram where there’s a new workout top for each day of the week and while you’re in an old pair of basketball shorts, a messy bun (thetruly messy kind) and just trying to make it through an 80’s Jane Fonda Jazzercise video?
Do you wonder how Molly has so much time in her schedule to grocery shop, clean her house and prepare a balanced meal for her entire family? Do you see pictures of Madison’s newly redone kitchen and question where she must place her mail if her dining table is always so clean? Do you question whether or not Heather’s kids are always so well groomed and well behaved while your main goal is to keep you child alive each day?!
I have this weird thing about having dishes in the sink when people come over. I hate it! It’s like heaven forbid someone think we actually eat off of plates and use pots and pans to prepare our meals. It’s like any sense of actual life is embarrassing and I always want all of the dishes cleaned and put up before anyone comes. The challenge is that this rarely happens, especially on a daily basis when my mother-in-law comes over to watch our son. There are almost always dishes in the sink leftover from the night before. The thing is, whenever I go over to someone else’s house, I love seeing dishes in their sink. It reminds me that they are normal, humans just like me who don’t have it all together.
I find it so interesting that we post filtered pictures of the perfectly displayed meal on a perfectly clean table and a romantically lit kitchen, yet would never be caught dead posting pictures of the meal we overcooked, the mail on our counter tops or the empty pizza delivery box from last night. Yet this is real life and we crave to see other people’s own humanness, but dare show our true selves.
We will post pictures of our strenuous long run (the epic running shoe shot, Fit Bit stats and headphones selfie), but we won’t admit the times we opt out of the gym to get dinner with friends or simply to rest.
We are left scrolling through our social media accounts, craving realness yet seeing only part of the picture, only the part people want us to see. Because of this, we are left feeling more depressed, more anxious, more isolated and less than.
One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year is to practice imperfect hospitality. The word came from the book “The Nesting Place” by Myquillyn Smith and it’s the idea of challenging the mindset that my home has to be perfectly clean and that the meal has to be Top Chef quality in order to gather people around our table and entertain.
I’m trying to challenge myself to invite people into the real messiness of our home and our lives so that we can truly connect over a meal while breaking bread at the table.
This is so hard for me! I hate for people to actually know that we store tons of mail on the counter, have trails of baby toys throughout the house and loads of laundry in random places.
But real community happens when we are transparent at the table. When things aren’t perfect.
In her book, “If You Only Knew” Jamie Ivey says that vulnerability breeds vulnerability. She talks about how oftentimes, it can be so difficult to raise our hands and say, “I’ll go first. I’ll share my story.”
She talks about being a safe place for other women to be real and share their stories. So often, I meet with young girls who talk about their struggles with accepting their bodies and their yearning to be known. I so badly want to place their faces gently in my hands, look them in the eyes and say, “Baby girl, we’ve all been there and that is hard.” I want so much to share with them my story and let them know that I don’t get it right every time, but there are obviously boundaries with self-disclosure and I am a professional.
We always think that modeling a healthy lifestyle via balanced cooking and regular exercise routines are the best, but I’m finding that modeling being simply human is substantially more impactful.
So here I am saying, “I’ll go first.” Let us be women who build one another up, post the perfect meal and the epic fail dish. Let us be women who mention being at the gym, but also mention opting for a night of Netflix instead. Let’s be women who tolerate the distress of not vacuuming before our guest arrives instead of running ourselves crazy trying to get one more task done before the door bell rings.
Let’s be real.