A couple weeks ago I *thought* I got pink eye. It turns out it was a stye, which I thought would be better, except of course that my stye turned into what looks like a giant whitehead zit/huge bee sting on my eyelid.
And from the way I’ve been acting and feeling about it, you’d think that I committed the most shameful sin.
Meaning…I’ve been more-than-embarrassed. And I’ve been wanting to hide myself behind sunglasses, or stay at home, or not see any of my friends, and definitely not meet the family of a very cute guy.
And as I’ve been dealing with this for the past couple weeks, I’ve been faced with something that I didn’t realize was really present for me…which is that I care A LOT about what other people think.
I’ve distilled it down to what my main concern is, which is…
“What will people think of me when they see this?”
I imagine that what they might think is that I’m gross. Or that I’m defected. Or that maybe this is just my eye and then they’ll feel bad for me to have to go through life with a giant whitehead on my eyeball. I imagine that they’ll be uncomfortable looking at me. Or not want to look at me at all. Or that they’ll make fun of me when I turn around. I imagine that they’ll think I’m contagious and not want to hug me.
And I imagine that I’ll feel invisible, less worthy, less attractive, and more of a burden. In general.
I didn’t expect these complex emotions to arise, simply from a silly little stye but they did. And it made me think so much about life in general. And perfectionism. And perhaps an epidemic that is just lying under the surface for us all, or right in front of our (stye-filled) eyes…
Which is that we all hold ourselves up to such an impossible standard, that we set up a system for ourselves where we’re never enough.
When we have something that we consider to be a “blemish” or “not acceptable” or something that someone might judge us about, we want to hide and avoid. And we feel less important, desirable, or worthy.
This has happened to me in other areas of my life, like when I’ve gained weight, felt depressed, felt confused in life, not been creating anything I deem as amazing, I don’t feel beautiful or attractive, I’m not in the “stage of life” I feel like I should be in compared to others, and a whole slew of other scenarios.
And in all these scenarios in the past or present, I want to hide what’s happening, not go out, and definitely not tell people.
They are all variations of hiding myself so that I don’t have to face what someone else might think of my situation, or what I, deep down think of myself.
Which simply, is that if I’m not perfect, or acting in a way I deem to be acceptable, I’m not worthy of being in the world or being loved. (not literally…don’t worry).
I’ve noticed my desire to hide a lot the last couple weeks. I haven’t wanted to deal with my assumptions about what someone else might think of my eye. So that I don’t make them uncomfortable by having to look at it. So I don’t put them in that awkward situation of having to deal with my imperfection. So I don’t have to feel like an outcast.
And in these moments I realized how much of a perfectionist I am, and the ridiculously high and impossible standard I hold myself up to. I mean…if I can’t even get a stye, which literally has nothing to do with me, without feeling like I’m worth less, then what does that mean for the rest of my life and what does that mean for all of our lives? What does that mean when I make a mistake? Or accidentally hurt someone I care about? Or make a wrong move? Or show the depth of my emotions and feel like maybe I revealed too much?
It means that none of it is acceptable and should be grounds for “hiding.” But what I’ve been noticing is that when you hide your stye (or any other life blemish) you also hide your light.
Because you can’t both hide and also shine.
And then I wondered how many things in all of our lives we do this with. How many times we shy away from something or someone because we don’t think we’re “ready” or “right” or “good enough.” How many times we don’t start dating or start businesses until we’ve lost weight or learned more. How many times we miss opportunities for connection, or for deepening our love and acceptance for ourselves simply because we’re embarrassed of who we are or what’s going on with us. How many times we turn down our “shine” because we decide to hide instead.
I think way more than I ever realized. And that makes me sad for us all.
It sounds really silly but this little stye has taught me a lot.
It has taught me to (at least try to):
- Accept myself even when I’m not “perfect”
- Show myself to people even when I don’t feel “perfect”
- Have honest conversations about my insecurities with my loved ones (including a conversation where I pre-empted a hang with a friend I haven’t seen in years by saying “I just have to tell you, I have a big stye on my eye and I feel super self conscious about that! Just wanted to put it out there!”
- Not worry so much about what other people think of me
- Not hide myself
And even though it’s only been two weeks, I feel like it’s an experience we can all learn from. I imagine that you too have some metaphorical “styes.” That you too have some areas of yourself or your life that you feel embarrassed about or want to hide.
And if you do, I hope this acts as a reminder that no matter what is going on and where you’re at in your life, you are worthy of being loved and accepted.
And also…that the world needs your shine. The more real people we have in the world, the less we all feel so alone with our “imperfections.” And really…I want to be at THAT party. With you. And your stye and whatever else you have going on.
In my mind I just went to a virtual party where everyone shows up with a “Hi My Name Is…” sticker but instead it says “Hi, My Insecurity Today Is….”
And then I giggled thinking about what a conversation starter that would be. And how fun that would be to be honest and witness other people doing the same. And how much opportunity we’d have to connect. SOOOOO…if you want to play, in the comments below fill in the blank, “Hi, My Insecurity Today Is_________” and then follow it up with one thing you love about yourself.
I’ll go first…
“My Insecurity Today is my stye in my eye and one thing I love about myself is that I have a kind and tender heart.”
Now you go. I can’t wait to hear from you in the comments below. And if you know someone that needs to read these words, please feel free to “like” and “share” by clicking the buttons on the side of this page or copy/pasting the URL. Let’s all shine anyway.
Your partner in crime,
P.s. All the best stuff happens first over on my list so if you’re not already on it, make sure you pop your little namesy and email addressy right over HERE