I will never forget the first time I failed a test. I was in fifth grade and we were studying the solar system. First of all, my brain and science don't click. Except for Punnett squares because, let's be honest, those are basically math. Second of all, the solar system: it just goes on and on? Forever? I can't wrap my brain around this.
I knew I hadn't aced it, but when the teacher handed me my paper covered in bright red, I was shocked. Instantly I felt my face flush and a knot rise up in my throat. I wanted to throw up and hide under my desk all at once. I'd never seen a "D" on a paper before.
Inevitably, Matt, the boy next to me took the moment to share his thoughts on the exam with the class: "This test was so easy," he said with a grin as he stared at his perfect score. Ah, the omnipresent humble brag in the elementary school classroom. My face burned as I hid the paper under my green folder; the color combination lighting up like a Christmas tree.
Recently I was thinking about how hard adulthood can be. And while we aren't being graded on it, there are days it feels like we're failing. Like if someone were to hand us a paper with our scores, there'd be a lot more red than there was on my science test.
I realized then that there are still Matt's of the world, lurking around, reminding us that, while something may have been hard for me, it was easy for him. In fifth grade, he waved around his A+ exam. These days, he's on Instagram or in the office, implying that he's cruising through life, making everything look natural and easy.
Something early motherhood has taught me is the power of admitting how difficult things can be. I can't tell you how many people have called or texted to check in, admitting each time: "having a newborn is so hard," and "those first few weeks are the toughest of all," and "hang in there, it gets easier."
A part of me wanted to tell these friends, "Oh no! It's amazing! I am loving it. I'm so happy!" Which is the truth. I am loving it and he is absolutely amazing. But it's also hard. It's a sleep-deprived, hormonal, sometimes tearful season. And when my friends let me into the challenges they had during these early days, they gave me permission to tell them the truth.
What these conversations have taught me is that when we're honest enough to let people into the hard spaces in our lives, we give one another permission to be vulnerable.
I think sometimes we feel guilty when we admit things we have wanted for a long time are hard. Our internal voice goes something like this:
I wanted a baby so long; how could I ever struggle with this?
I wanted to quit my job for years; how could I complain about the challenges of finding clients? Or the creative pressure?
I wanted this promotion forever; how dare I feel frustrated by the hours?
I'm learning lately that honesty and gratitude go hand-in-hand.
I can be grateful for building my own business, while still frustrated by certain parts of the process. I can - and am - thrilled with having a newborn. But that doesn't mean I have to love every single detail of it.
Life can be super, duper hard. And there's no shame in admitting it. In fact, by sharing its challenges with one another, we create room for more growth and connection.
We do one another a disservice when we pretend everything is easy. So today, here's my truth: early motherhood is hard. It's amazing, beautiful and an incredible gift. Am I loving it? Yes. But, y'all, it's tough. And you know what else is hard? The planets. I mean. They just go on forever...?
Happy Tuesday :)