We all have visions of how we think we are; of how we believe we think and behave and of how we assume we are perceived by others. But sometimes those visions are a bit off-base. For example: for many years, I always thought I was one of those "go with the flow" people-- you know, the type who easily sashay through life, comfortable with uncertainty around everything from which seat they will inhabit on their transatlantic flight to whether or not they will have children one day. These people don't make plans, they let the plans happen to them. La-ti-da, la-ti-da. For years, I liked to think that I was one of these people. Because I WANTED to be one of those carefree, easily caught-up-in-the-moment, Type B people. But, I've come to realize, over time, that I am REALLY NOT one of those people. I like solid plans. I like lists. I like to know weeks in advance what time the event starts, where it is, who is going, what I will be wearing, how my hair will be done, whether or not I'll need a sweater, and if we'll be driving or taking a cab. I also want to know when it ends, if there will be a post-event hang, and what I'll be doing the next morning so I can plan my exit to ensure that I get at least seven hours of sleep so as not to be tired the next day (Sleep is a top priority for me, and I'm sure you are now beginning to understand why...). And I'm aware of how all of this sounds: uptight, extremely Type A, and really not sexy. Certainly not sexy. To me, the image of sexy is a French (yes, she has to be French) woman casually rolling out of her pillowy bed in her airy loft apartment at 2 p.m. after a late night spent drinking far too many carafes of red wine, immediately lighting a cigarette, while simultaneously (and effortlessly) making a double espresso which she will then spend three hours forgetting to consume while lounging on her Juliet balcony, half-clothed, for the remainder of the day until it is time to go out again and see what the town has to offer her. THAT'S sexy. Lists, and plans, and being a stickler for time? Not so much.
And so, FOR YEARS, I tried to be carefree. I worked really hard to try and be casually cool, man. Guess what? It didn't work for me. It's just not in my personality to be so happy-go-lucky. Trying to live my life that way felt A) wrong, and B) gave me a persistent hangover. So I decided to live boldly, authentically, and to just be me. But I also realized that just because I gravitate towards order and the need-to-know, doesn't mean that I have to be uptight, or that I'm not FUN. Believe it or not, I LOVE FUN. I love to dance. Laughter is my favorite past-time, and I'm not afraid to look like a fool sometimes-- even at my own expense. Once I took ownership of certain aspects of myself, I could begin to loosen up around that framework. Because there is value, certainly, in resiliency around changing plans. It's impossible to control everything (or much of anything, really), so best to keep your expectations vague, and accept that things often do not turn out the way we think they will, or the way we believe they should.
I had also always associated creativity with carefree messy-ness, and I place creativity extremely high on my list of "important things to have." That French woman in my fantasy of sexiness? She was also a brilliant painter, whenever she got around to it. Lists and being on time do not seemingly jive with being creative, as I once perceived it. But, in fact, there is much new research on creativity (research was also definitely NOT sexy to me back in the day) that shows that creativity needs guidelines. Meaning that it's necessary to have a framework in which to allow the mind to wander. For example, writers who are provided with a prompt or certain parameters in which to explore, usually flesh out far richer and more complex stories than those who are given a blank page and simply told to "start writing." This research excites me and also resonates: once I have a basic outline of whatever it is I'm looking at- be it an evening out, or an outline for short story, I am much more able to explore and tap into my creative flow.
So, what is the point of all of this? That my messy-living French woman is not so sexy after all? Who knows. I never really set enough parameters on that particular story in my head, and so I don't know if she is as great as I perceived her to be. The point is this: in order to start living authentically as the best possible version of yourself, it's necessary-- imperative, actually-- to start looking at the stories you tell yourself. Listen to the way you talk to and about yourself and your habits. Are you judging your inherent traits instead of harnessing them and using them to become the best YOU? Are you hiding in an inauthentic life because you think it's not sexy to enjoy framework? Are you incapable of letting go and laughing at yourself and the absurdities of life? Dig deep. Be who you are. Be fearless and bold and unique. And sometimes that may look a little bit messy to the outside world. But who cares? That's the kind of care-free we all need more of; being care-free of what other people think. Having freedom from the judgment of ourselves BY ourselves and by others is a goal worth striving for. And THAT'S most definitely sexy.