I am a mess, and maybe so are you
Updated: Sep 8, 2020
Even though old Tristan over there is never a mess
Do you ever feel like a mess? Or, as we say in the south, a hot mess? If you've never heard the phrase "hot mess" before, it probably sounds like a come-on. Really, it is a way to give an extra "kudos!" to people who have managed spectacular achievement in the field of being a mess. I think you even get a trophy.
Some days, and usually, these are times when we say, "Today just isn't my day," we wonder if we should just go live off the grid on the side of a mountain for the rest of our lives.
Being a mess can manifest itself in many ways. It can show up in being uncoordinated all day, as often happens to me. I have tripped over my own feet and sprained my ankle while taking out the recycling. Luckily, I may have photobombed someone's back-to-school picture in the process, so all was not lost!
I have spilled the entirety of my enormous Starbucks iced tea all over myself and many papers and on the newly-cleaned rug at work. I won't tell anymore of my lack of coordination. You'd be reading this until you expired.
Sometimes, being a hot mess shows up in saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. For example, when I was a teacher, I confused two women and congratulated the wrong one on being pregnant. To be fair, they had the same last name. Sometimes, in elementary schools, teachers get used to calling each other Mr. or Ms. "Whatever Their Last Name Is." You know, in front of the students.
Also, there always seems to be at least two women on staff who are pregnant at any given time in elementary schools, so for all I knew, they both were! Excuses aside, I then hid in my classroom for approximately 2.6 hours. That encounter was not the proudest moment of my life.
Being a mess can be as small as wearing a button-down shirt in public and having many men smiling at you as you walk by. You're thinking, "Yeah, I still got it." Later, you realize what you actually "got" is a missing top button on your shirt, and the men were smiling at your visible bra!
The worst thing about feeling like a mess, though, is when it has to do with who you ARE; when you feel like your whole life is a mess, and you are not where you should be "at your age." Why does everyone else your age seem to have money, and a lovely, large domicile with a refrigerator with an ice maker and water dispenser on the door? Why don't they buy all their clothes at Target? Why are you so behind?
And, why does everything you try seem to fail? Why, when Tristan over there applied for jobs, did he get a new one in two weeks, while you've been applying for two months? Why did he get a job offer that pays twice his current salary when all you've gotten is an offer to bag groceries? And you are actually a computer programmer who is more skilled than he is!
And you're all like, "What does Tristan have that I don't have?" And the answer is probably "a man bun."
The answer may also be that you have had a hardship delay your progress. Maybe, old Tristan over there was sailing along, drinking PBR at that trendy joint with his 23 friends, and learning job-hunting and interview skills you did not learn. Maybe he attended a fancy college, and you taught yourself because you couldn't afford college. Maybe, while he was doing all his awesome stuff, you were dealing with someone in your family having cancer, or with poor mental health, or with an unforeseen financial crisis.
Probably, Tristan was also putting glitter in his beard during that formative time. But that topic is beyond the scope of this post. While it's unreasonable to be angry with people who seem to have had an easier time than we have, we can still try to be less hard on ourselves.
I know when life is not going as you'd like it to, and you are not where you feel like you are "supposed" to be, you probably feel like a hot mess whose only chance for redemption is to sit on top of a mountain for six years hoping that lightning strikes you and imparts you with the wisdom that Tristan, and your cousin who makes six-figures a year, and all those other people who are "doing life right" seem to have.
But I have good news.
There is no such thing as "doing life right."
Sometimes, those people who appear to be "doing life wrong" triumph in the end. I mean, look at Albert Einstein. He was clearly underemployed as a patent clerk, working every night on his passion. He probably thought he was a hot mess for a while. And look what he did with knowledge, and with sheer determination and force of will.
I also think about the Wright brothers, and, specifically, about their mom. Old Mama Wright was probably grocery shopping, and all the other ladies were gossiping about her. I imagine them giving her the side-eye as she tried to find ripe apples in a bin. In my mind, it went something like this:
"Would you look at the poor woman? Her sons think they're going to fly! TO FLY!" [vigorous head shaking]
"I know, my Christopher is a top law professor, and those boys are just a couple of ne'er-do-wells!"
Well, we all know what happened with that. The Wright Brothers conducted their flight experiments as complete unknowns. Meanwhile, Samuel Langley, who was on a quest to achieve powered flight, was not only employed by the Smithsonian, but his efforts were followed in the press and underwritten by the War Department!
Langley failed in his efforts. He did not achieve powered flight. The Wright Brothers did fly, though. They just did it differently, without anything but manpower. In the words of Wilbur Wright:
"It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill."
If you possess knowledge, skill, and determination about your passion, you do not have to take the well-worn path. You can make your own. If you can't afford to have someone else teach you, you can teach yourself in many cases. It will be more challenging. You will be chopping through trees and underbrush with your machete, getting scratched, and falling down and getting up a whole lot. You will encounter naysayers, who act like you're crazy or wrong. They will tell you that what you seek is impossible. Trust me, I know this from experience, and why people do this is another topic altogether. You may have to wait a long time to achieve your dream. You will likely feel like a hot mess, and "hot mess" may even become your identity for a while.
But, as you make progress, your view of yourself will change. With enough determination, coupled with knowledge, you can achieve your goals.
Grandma Moses didn't start painting until 1938 when she was 78 years old, and she taught herself! No fancy art schools for her. In 2006, her painting, Sugaring Off, sold for US $1.2 million. Her work is still displayed in loads of museum collections today. Boom, naysayers!
Remember, you are really not a hot mess. And when you are, it's temporary. Everyone in the world has days when they are a mess, but some people hide it better than others and choose not to write blog posts about it or post about it on social media.
People who start out in life looking like messes overall are often the ones who make the most significant differences in the end. I'm trying myself. So don't give up. We'll get there.