Show Me Your Wobbly Bits
By Laura Taylor
My family is English, and I was raised with a fondness for Notting Hill, Love Actually and Bridget Jones. My mum had an especially soft spot for Bridget Jones - we played the soundtrack most nights at dinner - and etched in my mind as the height of all romance is this scene where Bridget hops out of bed with Colin Firth, and self-consciously wraps the sheet around her to shield her naked bod from his eyes. When confronted by him about what she is doing, she says “I don’t want you to see my wobbly bits” to which he replies “actually, I am very fond of your wobbly bits”, she ceremoniously drops the sheet and if that doesn’t prove love isn’t dead I don’t know what will.
This is not leading into a body positive piece (although stay tuned) and to be fair that would be an awful example as in an ideal world Bridget would drop the sheet irrespective of Colin’s opinion on her. Rather, I have recently been confronted by the wobbly bits that aren’t visible, the inconsistent, fearful, ugly, bent, self-seeking, insecure and raw bits that I am hiding under the sheet.
Just as 98% of women have cellulite, yet we strive to smooth out the bumps to be the 2%, all of us have a dark side yet we spend an insane amount of time curating an bright image and erasing the obtrusive edges. It exhausts me to think about the time I have spent ignoring, manipulating and hiding the parts of me that I would be so ashamed for people to discover. And I’m starting to see our efforts would be better spent if we stopped lying to ourselves, killed self-deception and embraced the fact that we all have a dark side.
I can be both humble and vain, positive and downcast, charitable and greedy, confident and ashamed. Last week I was confronted when a friend described me as a chameleon, able to change for whatever the circumstances called for. Although it has its merits, it got me thinking about the lengths I go to to be all things to all men (and women) and not offend people, or more incriminatingly, to not expose my dark side.
For every part of me that is friendly and inviting, there is a corner that is judgy and jealous. For every part that loves the challenge of working a room, there is the corner that gets anxious over going to a place I’ve never been before. For every part that wants to compassionately look after everyone in my life, there is a corner where a martyr is bitter to pick up the pieces. For every part that jumps be in charge and takes pride in competency, there is the corner that lacks common sense and sheds tears over missing details. I am either at any given time and hold both within the same hand.
This year, I have been drawn to people who whole-heartedly own who they are. Not to be mistaken for arrogance, there is something incredibly attractive about someone who sees all they are, and wants to improve what they realistically can whilst simultaneously accepting where they are and where they have come from. As Brennan Manning puts it, “Men and women who are truly filled with light have gazed deeply into the darkness of their own imperfect existence.”
A few weeks ago, I set my alarm for the wrong time and let a bunch of people down. And I freaked the f*ck out. Like stomach dropped, crying to my flatmate on the lounge floor, freaking out. Because they had seen my shameful side, my I don’t have it together, letting things slip, disappointing corner. The illusion had been shattered, and the thought of them feeling let down and perceiving me as anything less than competent killed me.
When I look at this now, does my intrinsic worth decrease when I sleep in? Does it take away from the essence of who I am? Or is it simply a unpleasant experience I wouldn’t like to repeat. Radical self-acceptance comes from holding everything and saying, both the successes and failures of my past are simply that, and today, it is what it is. I can continue to be ambitious, inspired, advantageous and forward-thinking without placing my entire worth on what I achieve, say, do or see.
Again, Brennan Manning puts it brilliantly,
“When we accept ourselves for what we are, we decrease our hunger for power or the acceptance of others because our self intimacy reinforces our inner sense of security. We are no longer preoccupied with being powerful or popular. We no longer fear criticism because we accept the reality of our own human limitations. Once integrated, we are less often plagued with the desire to please others simply because being true to ourselves brings lasting peace. We are grateful for life and deeply appreciative of ourselves and others.”
Shared experience breaks down barriers and expands perception, ‘I am human because I belong, I participate, I share’. The painful moments of my life have gifted me the ability to see and feel the pain of others that before would have been foreign, and met with misunderstanding. In the same way, sharing the dark side of ourselves means that we can have deeper understanding for the dark side of others, and ultimately love more whole-heartedly, compassionately and honestly than before. If I hold myself to a standard I cannot keep, how can I give love in the way I so long to be loved?
Ironically, radical self-acceptance connects us more to each other than self-denial and hiding the shameful parts ever could. So make like Bridget and show me your wobbly bits, cause you can bet I have them too.