Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s October 2017 issue. Never miss an issue, check out SFM’s digital editions, here!
I homeschooled for most of elementary school y’all! By the time I landed in middle school I had an abnormal amount of confidence coupled with a lack of self-awareness. Eventually, the homeschool bubble started to wear thin, and I slowly became more self-aware… Painfully so. I started realizing things like… ROXY is preferred to shirts with horses running through the fog (you know the ones!?), most people wear jeans instead of stirrup pink leggings, greasy hair isn’t a good look for me, bras are for every day, and the list goes on! By the time I got to eighth grade, I was feeling embarrassed, completely uncool, alone, and insecure. I figured out that there were all of these social rules I had been unaware of and I was sub par. I think at that point I started to believe I had to be perfect for people to like me.
I met Lucy at a pre-season, volleyball camp the summer before eighth grade. She was the coolest. I remember thinking she was so pretty and fun, and generally everything I wanted to be. She lived right up the street from me. I don’t remember how it happened, but she invited me to her house one day. Glory!
I remember we were getting ready to go to a football game. Of course, I was hoping to put on my most perfect self. As we were picking out outfits, Lucy started digging through her hamper of dirty clothes. She pulled out a pair of crumpled, slightly visibly dirty, stinky jeans. She gave them a little shake and put them on. It kind of stunned me in the best kind of way. She wasn’t embarrassed. She didn’t make an excuse or apologize. She wasn’t trying to be perfect. She was just about to rock some dirty jeans with me watching. No shame… And I loved her for it.
I guess that was a small thing. I don’t know if she was even conscious of it or if she would remember it, but it changed my whole world. Here is what happened to me at that moment:
I adored her. I think showing imperfection openly like Lucy did is actually counter-intuitive. Instead of judging or criticizing or thinking less of her, I actually liked her even more. I had already admired her, but this made me relate to her and feel like we could actually be friends.
It set me free. Seeing someone else be imperfect showed me that it was ok for me to be imperfect too. Wearing the right outfit wasn’t a requirement for people to like me. Even the “coolest” people are flawed, and I could go ahead and let go of that standard.
I wanted to set others free. That moment gave me a bit of a strange passion for doing that same thing for others. No one wants to be around perfect people. Now, I like to go ahead and shatter that intimidation that comes with an image of perfection right away. Having a great hair day? Go light on the makeup. Having a friend over? Don’t stress about making your house look perfect. Killing it at work? Feel free to skip shaving your legs next week… Just filling you in on some of my tactics.
Needless to say, Lucy and I became best friends, and we went on to make so many fun, hilarious high school memories. Later in life, she continues to bring freedom and joy in each new season.
She had babies before me. She invited me over and showed me her C-section scar, her stretch marks, and what happens to your boobs. Later, when our kids were toddlers, she led me to her basement and opened the door to a huge room covered in toys. “We don’t clean this,” she said. Ha. Brilliant, right?! Our next house included a basement free-for-all area inspired by Lucy. She had three kids before me. When I asked her “What do you do?” She told me that crying helps.
This is the best kind of friend. Feel free to loose yourself from a standard of perfection. When you show your flaws, you bring freedom to others and win real friends. So rock those dirty jeans with a smile sister. You might change someone’s world.
about the author…Jenna Jones is a local mompreneur. She is mom to 3 little ones, soon to be 4! She is also a web developer and owner of Jenna Jones Design. In her writing, you will find Jenna getting honest about the hard stuff, and in all of it, finding some humor and some hope.