She looked up at me with a look I was not accustomed to seeing from my spunky Sophia. My normally precocious and extroverted little girl held insecurity and worry in her big brown eyes. At the ripe age of 8, she was suddenly shy as those feelings of stage fright started to take hold as I walked her to the backstage entrance for her very first dance recital. I squatted down to eye level, faced her toward me and took both of her hands in mine. I said, “You know what people like to see? It isn’t the dance steps - people most like to see someone smiling. So just smile your way through it.”
And she did. That sweet child of mine took to that stage and smiled her heart out. My eyes were instantly leaky as pride starting drumming inside my chest on my heartstrings. She was doing something new, something she had never done before, something that was setting her on edge. She missed some steps and clapped off beat once or twice, all with a huge grin on her face. It wasn’t about what she was doing. It was about how she was being.
It made me think about all of my clients worried about the steps they are currently taking. Wondering if they are getting the sequencing right or if they are demonstrating grace while the spotlight shines on their personal strife. They are experiencing their own stage fright.
I promise this isn’t a clichéd commentary on the art of being able to “grin and bear it.” But it is a reflection on stepping out of the moment and realizing that it may not be about the practical actions delineated on your to-do list or the fuzzy emotions you are experiencing by the hour, it is more about how you are being during this process.
Are you being gentle with yourself? Are you being mindful in your communication with your children? Are you being restful during these intense days?
There is a lot that may feel out of your control during the divorce process: the timeline, the legal process, or the outcome. But you have guaranteed control, at all times, over how you are being. You get to choose if you are being dependable or deceitful; resourceful or resigned; steadfast or stubborn. And like my Sophia, who chose to be joyful in her performance instead of technically perfect, it is your choice on how you will show up in this stage of your life.