My dear friend, Mikayla, came over to my apartment just over a month ago right after I had been painting the walls with one of our students. She had come over early to help me get ready for a get together with our student ministry leaders before we moved away.
I hadn’t exactly calculated the timing right for everything, so I was still in old, knee-length gym shorts, covered in paint, with a nasty old high school t-shirt and makeup leftovers. I was still scrambling to put all the paint away and get set up for the event in our half-packed apartment with a less than fully-furnished living room.
The first thing she said when she walked in the door was, “Wow! I’ve never seen you not completely put together before!!
“… I love it!”
And, you know what? I loved it, too.
My mom undeniably has the gift of hospitality. A strong part of my dad’s Type-A personality is perfectionism. Both of these things are great, but somehow got strangely mixed together in me.
When I became a wife, after coming off the college years of binge-browsing Pinterest homes and DIY decor, I idealized (maybe idolized) what it looked like to be the perfect hostess. I liked the idea of having people over, and now I had my own home!
When picking things for my wedding registry, I had all this in mind. The first year or two of marriage, any time we had people over, I was bound and determined that our guests’ experience in our apartment would totally make them overlook the first impression. After all, our apartment building’s paint was peeling, the staircase carpets were old and stained, and the walk leading up to our door intensely reeked of nicotine. I even tried putting Glade plug-ins in the building’s hallways but a neighbor repeatedly took them out.
But once they walked in our door, the atmosphere would be perfect.
This started to intensify once I became a Mary Kay consultant. I wanted them to truly feel like it was a pampering session.
Then, around 8 months-ish ago, I was getting ready for a facial appointment and just had too much straightening up to do to make everything perfect. I finally decided:
Hey, this is where I live.
I started thinking, maybe people would feel more comfortable if I’m not completely put together in a sparkling, spotless home every time. I had gotten the comments before, “Wow, your apartment is always so clean.”
And I’d think, Yeah right, they should’ve seen it an hour ago.”
Generally speaking, in life, I want people to feel they can relate to me. I want to be approachable. I want people to see I’m like them.
My life isn’t an excerpt from Pinterest.
Plus I straight-up suck at almost anything DIY – just not my thing, and I’ve accepted it.
Besides, I’ve heard all the discussion about vulnerability and authenticity and just “doing life” together – even if all the buzz words get annoying, I get the picture.
I don’t want to be sucked into the comparison game today, feeling like I have to keep up with the Joneses or the Kardashians or the Pinterestsons… whatever….
So I started to simply do a little less.
I mean, I’m not going to welcome you into my trash pit from our week-long Netflix-binge-watch fest complete with pizza boxes, dirty dishes and trash still out in the living room. *sigh* I hate to admit that… That is not the goal.
But I did intentionally try to stop stressing over every detail of attaining a perfectly-groomed apartment every time someone was dropping by (which we all know basically means throwing everything into the spare room, having the husband vacuum, and doing a quick Lysol-wipe of the bathroom sinks).
So that’s what led me to this time-crunched, packing-painting-moving-cleaning-hosting day Mikayla walked in on.
And she noticed how not put-together I was.
And I realized: I had arrived!!!
Seriously though, I wasn’t stressed. This wasn’t just a random acquaintance, but I was able to be comfortable looking less-than-perfect, in my disoriented home with a good friend.
Maybe that’s not a previous generation’s definition of friendship or authenticity or approachability, but I think it is today.
I think somehow, having just a couple of things out of place, or simply not presenting perfection in general, is opening up your life and inviting others into it.
We won’t talk about this past weekend when Mikayla and her husband and her friend I barely knew all happened in on our apartment on move-out day when all I had done was get up and put on my painting/moving clothes….. Less comfortability there – not a soon-to-come repeat, I’d say. But seriously – my bed-head is scary.
Maybe an inviting atmosphere has less to do with welcome mats and decor, and more to do with the warm comfort we personally possess.
Maybe being the perfect hostess has less to do with cleanliness and perfect appetizers, and more to do with who we are to our guests.
Anyways! What you do think about openness and perfection? What level of comfort do you have with what level of imperfections and around who? What’s appropriate and what’s not?
Love to hear your thoughts!