This post previously appeared on Happy by Design.
Can I be candid for a minute?
Don’t answer that. This is my blog post and I’ll say whatever I want!
I gushingly love the HBO show, GIRLS (and yes, I’m making “gushingly” a word). And it’s not just because I think its great entertainment. There are life lessons in there, too. I swear! Just hear me out.
What is this pile of…fertilizer?
My husband gives me a lot of crap for how much I like the show, GIRLS. I’ll admit, at first I was a little uncomfortable with the show. When you really break it down, it’s a show made up of a bunch of flailing, inept girls living off their parents’ money in Brooklyn, acting out every stereotype of East Coast girls I’ve ever encountered.
As much as I despise most of the characters, I don’t like to see them fail. But I also don’t like to see middle-aged parents that work hard getting taken advantage of by their whiny kids.
Keep that in mind when you come into your formidable years, little one.
But I kept watching for two reasons. 1) I wanted to see what stupid issues they’d come up with next and it was a train wreck that I couldn’t look away from.2) Well, let’s just say it made me feel safe and secure knowing that my life was MUCH more put together than theirs (sarcasm intended).
Seedlings rising up from a pile of…fertilizer
After a couple episodes of tolerating the characters and finding mild amusement, a funny thing started to happen. I actually started to empathize with their situations. Yes, they all look like a hot mess…but underneath it all, weren’t they just trying to figure out how to make a life for themselves?
Could I really judge them for all the times where they fell down and staggered back up to their feet? I couldn’t. Because I realized that I was witnessing them in the stage of their life where they were sorting out their shit.
And the show is still like that. Week after work, they’re sorting out their shit. They take one step forward and, seemingly, three steps back. They haven’t reached their happily ever after yet. And I love it. I love seeing their struggle because it feels so human to me. I love seeing their average, screwed up lives, and their really stupid mistakes, all in the name of learning what works for them.
We are all the pot and we are all the kettle
This isn’t just a post to tell you about other people being a hot mess. Obviously, I too was once in my twenties and I had plenty of my own hot mess moments.
And let’s be honest, I’m still just one incident away from being a hot mess, at any given time.
I have been floundering. I have been rude to people. I have had a huge ego and thought I had all the right answers only to be proved by higher ups that I, indeed, did not have all the right answers (or at least, the answers they were looking for).
I have made poor investments, both in money and in time. I have had ideas that I gave up on way too early. I have had ideas that I kept holding onto even when I knew in my heart it wasn’t the right path. I have struggled. Maybe not in the same way these girls have. And maybe at less of an expense to my parents (I hope). But I have struggled. We all have.
Is it worth it to fail nine times in order to succeed once?
“When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work.” –George Bernard Shaw
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about motivational quotes that show that the path to success is through a lot of failure. And if we’re talking about GIRLS, there is indeed a lot of failure going on. I won’t spoil anything but you start to see the glimmers of success towards the end of season three. And mathematically speaking, that makes sense.
A large part of me thinks, “Good for them!” They are taking risks. They are willing to fail in order to keep working towards their dream. They are groveling if it means getting back on the right path.
And then another part of me thinks, “That’s not fair!” Because I see that while they may appear to be a hot mess, they’re taking strides past where I am in my own professional and personal growth. And it feels like I’m being penalized for making safer choices and compromising, at times.
I know it’s my own fear of failure that’s holding me back, which is obviously something these characters lack. But there it is: I’m not a risk taker. I fear failure so greatly that I’m willing to never try. I’ve never said, “I’m going to take this dream job that pays a fraction of what I make now in order to get myself on a much more fulfilling path.” No.
My mission statement so far has been, “I’m going to carry my weight for my family. I’m not going to jeopardize the life that we’ve built. Seeking my passion is selfish if it means putting others in harm’s way (emotionally or financially).”
That’s where the characters on GIRLS have me beat. They’re at a luxurious time in their lives when they can make mistakes and fail, and the only ones that feel it are them.
They’re not tied to a mortgage. They’re not key providers helping to support a family. If they get fired, they can go sling lattes at Grumpy’s and make enough to cover rent until they can find a job that puts them back on their feet.
I don’t have the luxury of taking chances like that.
Embracing your hot messness (also making that a word)
Now when I watch GIRLS, I have a new appreciation for what is being portrayed through these characters. Sometimes, their mistakes feel all too real. Sometimes, they make the mistakes that even I was too scared to make back then. Either way, I still get to witness them living out this crazy stage in their life, which of course should be labeled, the “hot mess” stage. And just like all of us, they’ll look back and remember their 20s as a blurry, scary, screwed-up place. But really, it was all necessary to make them into the amazing people they will be…about ten years from now.
So this begs the questions: Did you fully lean into your hot mess years in order to get where you are now? Or, are you currently living in the hot mess stage…wondering when it will get better? I’d love to hear your horror stories and your success stories. And I’ll share one of mine soon. I promise!
Whatever stage of life you’re currently at, just remember that taking risks and being a hot mess for a short amount of time could lead to some REALLY big things down the road. I think it’s time we all stepped up our hot mess game in order to make some strides in our own lives.