COME AS YOU ARE
By: Lauren Anderson
When I was getting dressed on New Year’s Eve night, I had some things to consider.
I had a show to do that night, so I knew I had to be able to do improv in whatever I chose to wear. And then later on that night I would be going to a house party with a small (albeit wonderful) group of friends. I had one idea in mind: Functional and Festive.
So nothing too flashy right? Well… that’s what I thought. But I prescribe to the belief that NYE is a time for a little sparkle. I would be remiss if I didn’t bust out at least some rhinestones…
Before I knew it, my dark jeans and black button down shirt –an outfit that you can honestly see me at least once a week outside the gym— was dripping in jewels. A 28-strand-rhinestone necklace with long dangling crystal earrings, and 9 sparkling bracelets to match.
I looked myself over in the mirror. I had on a ridiculous amount of jewelry for the layperson, but for me it was… NOT ENOUGH.
Finger snap! I know! A BROOCH.
I placed one of my shiny-for-shiny sake brooches in the middle of my necklace mess, and turned around and looked myself over in the mirror. I gasped.
“Yeeeeeeesssssss. That’ll do Pig. That’ll do.” I said (Babe anyone?). And I was out the door.
Driving in my car, I started to laugh. Oh man, what did I put on? I have a ridiculous amount of VERY shiny jewelry on. Can I pull this off?
When I got to the theatre and took my jacket off, no one in the cast was surprised by what they saw. They all kind of blinked (I think from the mega-wattage on my body) and smirked as if to imply, “Oh Lauren.” And that was that.
Same thing happened later at the party. I got compliments on my choices, and people gave me a glorious amount of “Let me see what you’re wearing!” and “So shiny!” from some of the drunker of the group. But no one was surprised. Just delighted.
Everyone excepted it, and even celebrated and enjoyed it.
Later on, as midnight approached and funny hats were given out, I looked myself in the mirror and thought, “This is you girl. This is you FULL FAUCET.” I laughed.
I felt good. I felt festive. I felt like me. No apologies. No second guesses.
It was an accidental and yet incredibly powerful way to ring in the new year. And it got me thinking about spaces and people that allow you to be your full self. Friends and family and co-workers and places that allow you to bring your whole self to the table.
People willing to meet you where you are at.
In a world that can be so demanding of our time and energy, and yet still so fault-finding of what we have to offer. I find it fascinating, that even recognizing the privilege being a white cis-gender female affords me, I am still asked/forced to code-switch or make myself smaller/better/different to be acceptable and fit in. Whether it’s explicitly or implicitly stated, the expectation is often clear.
So, in the new year, how do I roll in more spaces that want my full self? How do I find solace and acceptance in the people and places around me?
Well shooooooot. That’s a big question isn’t it? And I don’t think I will find the definitive answer in the 2 pages of this blog. But I have an idea…
Over the last few years, Solcana has taught me a lot of things about my body and my mind, I mean duh right? That’s kind of a given. But the accidental and ever-present lesson that also keeps showing up is the power of community. And of culture. And the role I have in it.
I know I’ve talked about it before, but lately it’s all become so much clearer. And the message is this:
I CAN AFFECT MY CULTURE AS MUCH AS IT EFFECTS ME.
I have learned this lesson multiple times over the years. In improv, in my relationships, on Oprah– as she famously says, “You teach people how to treat you.”
The attitude I bring into the room can change the attitude of the room. Good or bad. I can declare expectations and decide to leave or compromise if they are not met. I can ask for what I need. My needs are important. I deserve the space, the time, and the opportunity.
It feels so counter-intuitive, but by being able to courageously say what I need out into the universe, gym, relationships, work environment, friendships, and even family dynamic– I am more likely to receive it.
The best example is my gym. Part of why I chose Solcana, and KEEP CHOOSING IT, is because it’s mission statement aligns with a lot of what I already believe in. Then when I go in, my presence (along with all the other athletes and coaches there) informs the environment.
Over the last years, I have seen people at the gym (myself included) boldly begin (and end) relationships with jobs, people, gender, their own bodies, way of thinking etc. And I feel like this was possible because perhaps for the first time we were consistently in an environment that accepted us AS IS.
All pretense could be dropped. And with all the energy I usually reserve for trying to be what people want, I am able to focus it on what I actually want. How I actually feel about things. What do I actually need.
Then with a clearer view of my needs, I am able to inform the world around me. And when people know what they want and aren’t afraid to ask for it, you usually get what you want.
I like to think about it like this: Say you’re out with a friend and you’re trying to think of a place to eat. One person is wishy-washy. But the other person is like, “I could kill for some Thai food.” Chance are you’re going to be getting Thai food that night. Because you put it out there. And I think I’m starting to believe that the universe is just waiting to give me what I truly want– If I have the courage to declare.
I wanted a place that I could go work out and learn to love my body. But I didn’t want to have to change to be able to fit in. I wanted to love myself as is. I wanted to love my body RIGHT NOW. Not a few pounds lost or gained/ not once I can run a mile without stopping/ not once I can do 10 pull ups.
BUT RIGHT NOW.
And then Solcana came out with a new T-shirt. And when they posted it on the page, I teared up. For a gym to declare on their swag that they want you to COME AS YOU ARE, is a rare and beautiful thing. And instead of resolving to change everything about myself in the new year, maybe I will resolve to do one thing only:
I cultivate space for myself and others to COME AS WE ARE.
And you know what? I think it’s a resolution I can really stick to.
* * *
In the bathroom on NYE right after the ball dropped, I did a little mini-assessment of my life. Staring at myself in the mirror with weird hat and literal pounds of jewelry on, I was astonished to note that most of the spaces I am in, already accept me as is. Most of the people I know do this too. My family does this (which is practically unheard of). And perhaps most especially, my GYM does this.
And I started to cry. Not full on sobs, because I wasn’t that drunk… yet.
But the stoic tears of recognizing that I helped create that life for myself… and the places and faces I surround myself with did the rest. I affect my culture and it effects me.
And the harvest from all this planting is bountiful.