Happy Friday from Tennessee! Today’s guest post is by one of my favorite people. Kaitlin & I met over social media a couple of years ago though, & when we finally grabbed coffee back in February, I just knew I’d found a girl I wanted to keep around. I don’t know whether it was the Frothy Monkey coffee, or the fact that she got to witness the funniest & most awkward encounter with a crush of my entire life, but we walked into that day as something like strangers & walked out more like best friends. As the community coordinator for She Reads Truth, Kaitlin is all about writing well & pointing hearts to Jesus in a way that’s authentic — which is what I’m all about too, so it’s a joy to have her write for me today. Friends, meet Kaitlin Wernet!
I grew up in the Magic Kingdom. Okay, so I was born in the Orlando hospital a few miles down the road from Disney World, and each visit, I would zip my fanny pack to go home a few exits down the interstate, but many of my childhood memories include a mouse.
As a little girl, I knew one day I would be a Disney princess. Just knew it.
I was going to be Belle. Ariel was my backup, mainly because that would involve a wig. (And an underwater kingdom complete with seashell bra, but minor details.) Princesses get to flounce around Cinderella’s castle in ball gowns all day. What more could you want?!
I had an autograph book full of their loopy signatures with heart-dotted i’s and flowery crossed-t’s. Most kids get to visit Disney World once or twice, but since I lived down the road, I had the character routines memorized.
Smile. Curtsy. Spin around. Hug small children. Smile again. Wave. Make sugar-coated comments about your fairy godmother. Apologize because you must return home to Prince Charming.
I saw the praise and adoration they received, and I wanted it. I wondered what it would be like for people to come from all over the world just for a flip of my hair.
Spoiler alert: I’m not a Disney Princess. My days are spent at an office desk instead of the Magic Kingdom, and people definitely don’t care about my hair flips. Even still, I hold onto those same qualities like my treasured formula for approval.
And you know what? I think those girls playing Belle and Ariel have one of the loneliest jobs in the world.
Much like a princess, I put on my costume of cheerfulness and wave my wand of content, hoping to create the illusion that my domain is low-maintenance and under my control.
My face muscles begin to ache, as if to say, You’ve been smiling for a long time, girl. Where is your rest? Are you ready to lay down your need to impress just yet? I realized that I can either appear to be a kind person, or I can be a kind person.
Being a kind person means granting myself permission to be vulnerable with others and myself. It means prizing authenticity over composure. It means saying things like, “I’m having a hard time,” and silencing the lie that feelings are a sign of weakness. When a friend is having a rough day, it means texting “Come over, let’s talk it out,” even if it’s inconvenient and you don’t know what to say.
I can choose to invest instead of impress and in turn, receive allies instead of applause.
This choice is not the easiest option. It’s almost reliably awkward, but cultivating character will always outlast a costume of comfort.
So friends, let’s be unapologetically real today. Let’s seek honest community with each other. But let’s maybe leave our seashell bras at home.