The Beauty in Showing Up Messy

I have been planning this post, but I almost didn’t publish it today. See, I told myself, no one reads posts published after 8 am.

Subtext: Good writers have their posts up by 8 am. It is 1 o’clock in the afternoon. You are not good. You do not deserve to be read. Try again tomorrow.

This is a post about snipping the tether of perfectionism. And it almost didn’t happen, because of my perfectionistic tendencies.

The irony is not lost on me. 

I recently had a conversation with Maggie Hollinbeck about the brutal and beautiful practice of showing up messy.

For me, this means, showing up open. Showing up vulnerable. Showing up as my full, real self.  Letting myself be exactly who I am.

This was something that I wasn’t able to do until recently, and it has taken a lot of practice. It is a far cry from the carefully cultivated appearance that I worked to maintain for much of my life, where I zipped myself up and desperately hid any imperfections from view.

I didn’t try things until they were tested, until I knew that I could do them with a certain amount of success.

I didn’t venture into the dangerous area of could-be-embarrassing, which spanned working out in public to reading aloud to sharing my real feelings about something.

I was bound. Constricted. Confined.

A year ago, during a prayer, I dreamed that there were shutters behind my shoulder blades that I was able to open to create some more space for myself. I had been praying for freedom. I had been praying to feel expansive in my life, to feel like I deserved to take up as much space as I needed and not worry so much how I appeared to others.

When those shutters finally opened, I realized that beneath the shutters were my wings. They unfolded careful at first, hesitant and cramped from so many years of being tied down and locked up.

I was elated to realize that when they stretched to full wingspan they where big and powerful and beautiful.

That I could be big and powerful and beautiful.

That I could breathe into that part of myself, that I could make it my practice, my path.

grounded Where once I might have been terrified of such an expansion, imagining knocking things over and taking up more than my fair share of space – I stood in awe of possibility.

When we stand in our own power, stretching our wings and planting our feet in the earth, we are able to feel the palpable prospect of possibility.

Showing up messy does not mean being unprepared or uncaring of the outcome.

Showing up messy means arriving as we are, radiating our truth and purpose and inner beauty – even when we have no idea how it’s going to turn out. 

It means trying something new, even if you’ve never done it before and you are on the teetering edge of thrilled and terrified.

It means holding on to what you know to be true, even when everyone is busy telling you what you should do instead.

It means allowing others an opportunity to truly know you, even if there is a chance of rejection, because you know that being loved for who you really are is worth the risk.

It means being true to yourself, even when and especially when you’re scared.

It means choosing to believe that you are important, you are deserving, and you are worthy – even when you have compiled (and are holding on tightly t0) a ton of evidence to the contrary.

It means knowing that there is no destination – that this moment, this path, this journey is all we have.

Showing up messy means giving your life everything that you have – and not worrying so much that you might have misplaced a comma. 

You are doing big, important work.

You are deserving.

Stretch your wings. Claim your space. Dance around there.

Get it done. Smile as you work. Enjoy yourself.

Be brave enough to show up messy.

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7 thoughts on “The Beauty in Showing Up Messy”

  1. Yay! Beautiful post -it’s like you wrote a letter to me today as I venture out yet again to an unknown branch on the tree of life. Thanks for showing up Mara maybe messy could be the new pretty 😉
    Big Love from the Islands.

  2. Oh Mara.
    I’ve spent forever trying to get sufficiently ‘cleaned up’ to…just start. Whether that is the most literal showered and dressed and coiffed so that I may leave the house or perfectionist anxieties quelled sufficiently to begin to write or make. I do get out occasionally but my nervousness about beginning creative projects is only growing. Asphyxiating. And I feel time is running out.

  3. I really needed to read this today. The blog post I have going out today is the messiest I’ve written and I fought my inner critic valiantly to even get it scheduled at all. It’s going up at 1pm today out of coincidence. 🙂

    I know that tight anxious shuttered feeling across my shoulders and back too well. During a meditation last night I realised that’s exactly where my wings would be. I now have a whole new growing pains outlook on this anxiety now.

    I’m starting to enjoy messy.

  4. I have been working on “Showing up messy” for a while now. In every aspect of my life I want to live with an open heart. I started my blog to open my heart more. This is the hardest work I have ever done and the most rewarding. There are so many days I revert back to contracting into myself. It sometimes feels safer but you put it all so perfectly in your post. I have huge wings, I can take up space in this life.

    Thank you for the reminder. I am very fond of saying “Perfect is the enemy of done”. Now I can add “ok, Kira Show up messy”.

  5. Thank you.

    I came to the conclusion this week that I had been trying to hard to NOT be messy. I have allowed creating something “presentable” to be more important than being, than living, than listening to where my own heart wisdom is taking me.

    So this post is pure serendipity this morning, affirming a message I have been pressing into.

    Thank you again.

  6. Thank you. Always, work on throwing out perfectionism is useful. Always, so thank you.

    and it occurs to me, reading this, that showing up messy is the same thing as being willing to learn.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about “beginner’s mind” lately — this seems connected.

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