A grain of salt: Personal growing ourselves to death

By Ammi Midstokke
Reader Columnist

Don’t get me wrong, I love Brené Brown just as much as the next self-actualizing woman, but I’d like to know how many yoga classes, trauma retreats, hours of therapy, detoxes, morning meditations, pages of journaling and self-help books it is going to take until I actually arrive. 

Ammi Midstokke.

At which age, and after how many turned-down desserts, will we look in the mirror and think we are good enough? Do we have to try all the diets and all the time management tools first? Do we have to wake up at five, take probiotics consistently? 

In a world of constant improvement and every app to track every success and failure we might encounter in a day, from water consumption to bowel movements to minutes of mindfulness, I am beginning to suspect we have left little space to simply accept ourselves as we are. Every tool, metric, diet, measurement is merely another way in which to assess our near-escape from perceived failure, or vilify ourselves further as unworthy with a healthy dose of blame and shame to go with it.

What would happen if we spent a fraction of this critical energy on celebrating ourselves and sleeping in? If we could replace our hobbies of perfectionism and the pursuit of a pant size with something that was truly making us happy, what would we choose? I doubt we would concentrate on growing our careers while shrinking our bodies. 

Today, I chose gardening and tuning my bike. I chose watching my daughter make us grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch over being keto and fearing bread. During this kitchen episode, I learned that penguins have knees, that she has been learning Danish so she can work at the Lego headquarters someday and that the more butter you put in the pan, the better that bread tastes. 

It is easy to get sucked into the bigger, exciting world. It looks sexy from the outside. Our cultural narrative suggests that we should have stable jobs and join an MLM on the side for real success. We are using words like “influencer” and “value add” as labels of actual humans in meetings, secretly hoping we’re seen as either or both. And after we’ve caused a paradigm shift in the industry, stalled aging with a single vitamin, fed our children organic dinners, gone to bed without our phones, initiated passionate love making with our spouse, slept a minimum of eight hours, and woken up to do it all again with a smile and Brazilian Blowout, we’ll be enough. 

Good enough to be loved. Thin enough to be kind to ourselves. Informed enough to have value. Mindful enough to not lose control of emotions and swear at the Starbucks kid who jacked up an order and guaranteed a two-day migraine. Maybe if we read another book, introspect ourselves inside out, we’ll be worthy.

Or we could just take pause to ask the real question: Where did we learn that we weren’t enough to begin with? Unravel that ball of yarn, and use it to knit yourself a new story. One in which you lean back and appreciate everything you’ve been blessed with, including the very moment you are in. If you are going to embrace personal growth, start at your roots. You might just discover that you’ve been amazing all along.

Ammi Midstokke will be presenting at the 7B Women’s Luncheon on July 9th, where she will be exploring ways in which labels and limiting beliefs keep us from being our authentic selves.

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