Growing up, I was rewarded for being tidy, for putting my toys and books in the right place and picking my clothes up off the floor. Messy was not a positive word in our family’s vocabulary. I grew up thinking if I loved my friends like family they would always be there, if I worked hard my efforts would be rewarded and if I put myself “out there” I would find my mate, get married and have children. Yet, as I launched into this great big world I soon came to realize that while a neat and tidy kitchen was fantastic—LIFE is anything but neat and tidy. It is downright messy and you know why? PEOPLE! Life is full of people and we are at our core—MESSY!
Those friends I thought I would have forever, they are gone. “Family” meant way more to me than them. I am now 42 and find myself unmarried and childless. Last year I put 200% into a job and got laid off. At first glance, this sounds terribly sad right? Remember that messiness? Well that is what is so beautiful about Life. When the unexpected happens, new doors we never thought existed suddenly open.
If I allowed myself to get stuck in the neat and tidy version of Life I would have missed out on all the lovely messiness. The friends for a season and the friends for a lifetime, the amazing man I have been dating for two years who gets me more than anyone else I have ever known and my incredible niece and nephews who I love more than I ever knew was possible and that job situation—I am indulging in the supreme act of messiness—starting my own consulting company, something that feels so uncomfortable yet so right.
By embracing my messiness I have opened myself up to so much more. It isn’t easy. It requires being uncomfortable, confessing that I am not perfect, and making mistakes, lots and lots of mistakes. It requires learning a whole new language of humility and diving into the deep dark inner regions of my soul to truly understand what is behind my hesitation or fear and owning it. It is clearing the way to see clearly.
This work has allowed me to see the beauty and possibility in new adventures—starting my own business, venturing into the world of online dating and picking up moving across the country away from friends and family but towards the life I was meant to live.
Now as I build my consulting business, working with organizations (non profits/NGOs, government, for profit) to develop strategy, business plans, partnerships and generally have greater impact—I encourage them to embrace the messiness. Change evokes strong emotions, it reveals barriers and resistance and can literally derail an organization. Using similar techniques we create a new language of conflict and learn how to identify and address those barriers to move the organization forward.
Thank you for reading to the end. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to share this with all of you. I would love to hear how you have embraced messiness, instead of hiding it under the bed, in your life.
Now go get Messy!