It’s not always the right time to “hold yourself together.”
I was meeting a few of my favorite Irishman’s cousins for the first time this summer.
It was brutally hot so I was wearing a summery denim dress, saying hello to everybody, when I felt a breeze…
Turns out, my side zipper broke — from armpit to mid-hip. 😳
<insert expletives here>
Made a mad dash for the bathroom, but as hard as I tried to fix it… no luck.
<insert more expletives here>
We hadn’t even had dinner yet, so I’m trying to figure out what to do.
Go home and change?
Make a joke about it?
Borrow a wrap?
But I didn’t do any of those. I was too panicked and self-conscious. So instead of proactively dealing with the zipper issue, I verrryyyy strategically positioned my arm to cover it up.
Throughout the entire social hour.
And, god help me, a game of cards.
When we left his cousin’s that night, I started bawling the minute we hit the street. And not because my arm was cramping.
For too many reasons to share now (someday, I promise), I’d been in a “hold-everything-in” kind of headspace. And the zipper was a real-time metaphor (appreciate your sense of humor, Universe) urging me to allow myself to let go.
But, damn, I fought it.
I felt so exposed. But was focused on protecting myself. Projecting this perfectly buttoned-up (ahem… zippered up) appearance.
In hindsight, I wish I had just ‘fessed up to the zipper fiasco and allowed that to be their first experience with the imperfect me. We could’ve laughed together and moved on.
But I was so focused on holding it together that I couldn’t enjoy the evening.
And my unzipped dress (plus bawling to my fella afterward) was the way I got the lesson at the most awkward time.
Too many of us are obsessed with embodying this image of “strong, independent (business)woman.”
We want to be perfect.
Consistent, polished and Insta-worthy 24/7.
Completely self-sufficient. (The LAST thing we want is to seem needy.)
But that doesn’t leave any room for experiments or new possibilities… or the gift of an outside perspective. It’s like you’re holding onto everything so tight, the same way I was smooshing my arm against my side for hours at dinner. Uncomfortable. Unsustainable.
And sometimes when you don’t release them on your own accord… things break.
Suddenly you’re forced to deal with a “broken zipper” in your business.
(By the time THAT happens, it’s usually a little more of a “break” than can be covered up with a strategically positioned arm for a few hours, if you catch my drift.)
And as you try to pivot into the next thing, it’s with less grace than usual because those “broken zipper” moments tend to happen at the most inopportune times.
Sometimes you just need someone to see you in all your zipper-less glory.
Someone to say, “yeah, you’re a little bit nakey right now, but you won’t be forever. Breathe. Here’s what you can do.”
Because if one of my fella’s cousins had seen my little patch of naked skin and said “oh hey, you know I’ve got a cardigan you can wear if you want,” all my emotional turmoil could’ve been avoided.
I could’ve relaxed and enjoyed the night.
When you release the need to be picture-perfect for everyone all the time, you’re able to breathe easier, think clearly and see past the broken zipper.
You’re able to recognize solutions and pivot to the next thing more gracefully.
Or at least enjoy the breeze.