Lower Your Mask, Let People In
Two weeks ago, my family and I landed in the humid air of Singapore to begin another chapter (my husband Andrew has taken on a leadership role here in Asia). As exciting as it is to embark on a new adventure, it’s also been challenging. Starting new chapters and ending old ones is no walk in the park!
Winding up my life in Australia – packing up our family home, uprooting teenage kids and replanting them in new schools (in a new culture), reworking my own plans, plus 101 other international relocation to-do’s – has consumed much of my mental and emotional capacity.
Reflecting on the challenges of this move, it’s clear that one of the most valuable things that has carried me through is the support I’ve received from family, friends and even people I’ve never met but who care anyway.
I’ve felt tempted at times to whitewash the challenges – to present only the upside and leave the rest unwritten. But I know that wearing a mask and pretending positivity can isolate us from ourselves and others.
Research bears this out. Authentic connections with other people help us handle our hardships better and emerge from them better off. Yet when life presses in on us and we’re unable to present the ‘got-it-all-together’ image we like to show the world, our tendency is to withdraw from the very people who could support us most. It’s at this point – when we feel most like pulling back – that we most need to reach out and share the raw truth of our lives. Not necessarily to everyone, but to those we know care for us the most.
That takes courage. Courage to lay our pride on the line and reveal the un-photoshopped reality we’re wrestling with. Having done that myself in recent months, when overwhelm and doubt have crept up inside, I can guarantee you that the relationships you build from allowing yourself to be vulnerable will far surpass any you may lose.
I’m still setting up my life here (as I write this, I’m sitting on a musty old rental sofa as I’ve yet to buy a desk… or a sofa!) but just know that I’m very grateful for your support as I make yet another transition and that I know that, like you, I’m exactly where I need to be to make the mark I was born to make. Even if I’m still figuring out how!
Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s bloody hard going. But, as I wrote in Make Your Mark, “In the end, life doesn’t happen to us, it happens for us – to connect, to learn, to love and to become the fullest expression of the person we were born to be.”
So here’s to keeping it real. Here’s to giving yourself permission to not have it all together all the time and to share with others when you don’t… and to love hard on others when they don’t!
If you’d like to make a comment or share your own story please do. I’d love to hear it.
PS: I’m back in Melbourne to speak at the Fantastic Female Leadership Conference on October 12th. 100% of the profits from this conference will be donated to Senhoa Foundation – a not-for-profit organisation with the mission to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation. If you’re a woman who wants to make a mark in the world, I hope you’ll join me!