September 8, 2017

Don’t Take it Personally, but I’d Rather do Yoga than join the PTA.

I’m not sure when I finally surrendered to the notion that I am not the average suburban soccer mom.

I mean, I do live in suburbia. And I am a soccer mom. In fact, my son plays soccer for two teams—one being a travel league. So as you can imagine, I’m driving all over the state for soccer.

But, this isn’t about soccer. This is about getting comfortable in our own skin. It’s about gracefully accepting and honoring who I am, knowing I am a square peg that doesn’t quite fit in the round hole.

I used to run and hide from myself. I didn’t want to be different. Me, unique? No, thank you. I’d rather pretend to be someone I’m not, play the nice soccer mom, and do what everybody else is doing in order to fit in. If you were looking for me, I’d be somewhere average, being average—playing small so I wouldn’t have to stick out and be the weird one.

But, I am the weird one. So why not own it?

I’ve known for a long time that I was different. I grew up in a rough-and-tumble, working-man’s town—rough around the edges and definitely gritty. But the community was united, the people were real, and it was home.

However, my dad left when I was 12, on Thanksgiving morning. He said he was going to his office to get something and never came back. The main thing I remember about him is that he was always creating and building a business. He was a serial entrepreneur.

I inherited this entrepreneurial spirit—it was in my blood. While most of the crowd my age that I grew up with spent their time “sippin’ whiskey out the bottle, not thinking ’bout tomorrow, singin’ ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’ all summer long” (thank you, Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd), I was hustling any gig a 14-year-old could get to make money—from delivering newspapers, to bagging groceries, to polishing silver.

Fast forward to adulthood: college, marriage, kids, nice house—followed by divorce, going back to work, and raising said kids.

I settled quite nicely into a bedroom community in a beautiful suburb, just over the bridge from my rough-and-tumble roots. I feel fortunate to be here. My kids are active and thriving, and we live comfortably.

But I never lost the feeling that I was different. There was this tug inside that came from wanting more. It came from the knowing that I am here for a purpose, and it was my responsibility to honor that. I was growing tired of wearing masks in an effort to fit in. It wasn’t serving anybody, especially me. It was exhausting. And you know what? It was boring.

That’s when I surrendered to the idea of just being myself.

Because in reality, I’m that mom who does yoga and meditates. That mom with the tattoos. The one always working on some creative project. The tenacious chick with a fierce entrepreneurial drive.

I’d rather write a business plan than a carpool plan for all of my kids’ activities. I’d rather sit on a blanket in the park writing and reading than go to happy hour with the other moms. Dharma is a much more engaging topic of conversation for me than which town has the best school system.

Just being honest.

It wasn’t an overnight occurrence. It took effort to ease into becoming me and make no mistake, I am still on the journey. I realize now that you don’t simply arrive at being yourself. It’s a deliberate, intentional way of being. It is a process of cultivating self-awareness. It’s the art of embodying who you truly are—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Along the journey of discovering “me,” I’ve learned a few things so far:

>> Behind the conventional masks we wear, we’re all a little weird. It’s the human condition. It’s what makes us all the same—all one—yet different and special at the same time. How we express our true selves, our individual weirdness, is what makes us unique.

>> When we practice the art of being comfortable in our own skin, we give other people permission to do the same. This is a compassionate gift to offer others, even if many avoid us like the plague in an effort keep their masks securely fastened. It can go both ways—this too, is part of the human condition. We can’t control other people or what they think of us.

>> There is tremendous freedom in not giving a sh*t what other people think of you. It’s unbelievably liberating. It changes your whole energy. It clears your aura. You send off your own you vibe, and people dig that—or not, as I mentioned above. It may be too uncomfortable for them, but if you can choose to not internalize their perceptions, pure freedom awaits.

>> It’s alright to not know a damn thing sometimes. Letting that self-judgment and fear of the unknown fly out the window has allowed me to trust that wherever I am, I am there for a reason. Once a very uncomfortable place for me, this place of humility is becoming one of my sweet spots.

>> Being a good parent is about being present for my kids. It’s about showing up with my words and my actions, loving unconditionally, being of service, and honoring myself. I am their poster child for marching to your own drum, even if it makes them cringe with embarrassment at times. It’s not about making sure they have an endless supply of data for their iPhones or the latest fashion trends. I remind them that these are privileged-child problems. And I remind myself that the sun will still rise, even if there’s no milk in the fridge or the laundry piles up on occasion. Who cares? To hell with keeping a perfectly kept house—that always made me unnecessarily anxious, anyway.

This is the bittersweet journey of life unfolding. Nobody has it all figured out—and thank God, because that would be a lot of pressure. I’m just trying to appreciate the ride and figure out, at the very least, who I am, so that I can stand firmly in my own authenticity.



Author: Tiffany Cook
Image: Pixabay
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social Editor: Taia Butler

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