Let’s Paint Em’ Yellow


Tonight, we painted our fingernails yellow. Bright yellow. Ready for a pep-rally yellow. And it felt so good.

For years, I’ve refrained from things like purple streaks in my hair, piercings, and well, yellow nails. It started when I was young, and it was my “job” to stay out of trouble, get good grades and not have sex, drink alcohol or do drugs. There was a standard, and life was easier when I complied. When I followed the rules.

I could not only do that, I decided, but I could take it up a notch. I could blow expectations and win the astonishment of my friends, my teachers and even family. I could be better than what they expected, and then they would praise me more, like me more, and I would fit-in better.

I did just that. I worked hard at everything. Starting in school and then my career, my house, relationships, being a mom, being healthy, managing finances. I experienced success. I accomplished goals. I surrounded myself with admirable people. I kept my house clean and my yard in perfect order. I had to excel. It had to be perfect.

But here’s the truth: That life that was never, ever perfect, and it was a world where I was never, ever enough.

Throughout my life, I’ve been on both ends of many spectrum. I’ve been both fat and thin, married and divorced, rebellious and compliant, to name just three. And, regardless of any definition or category, regardless of my age or my place on the spectrum, whether I was fat or thin, I wasn’t enough. Married or divorced, not enough.

I’ve known this about myself, but I had no idea how much it was influencing how I navigated life. I’d make choices based on what I thought other people wanted me to do. I’d set the bar and then raise it higher. I processed everything. I mean…e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g…through the standard of trying to be perfect and never ever being enough.

Come to find out, they’ve got a name for this. Atelophobia. Who the heck knew? That tells me that I’m not the only one who’s lived with this lie and maybe someone else needs to hear my story to put that gremlin to rest in their mind, too.

What I’ve realized is that perfect is never achievable on this side of Heaven. It’s just not. I can stop trying to be perfect and start creating my beautiful, joyful life story, that, while it won’t ever be perfect, it can be beautifully mine. And perhaps, that is better in the end, anyway.

So, for today, here’s to yellow nails!












One comment

  1. Hi Kelli,
    I always read your mini passages on Instagram so this time I decided to check out your blog. I first met you at Crosspointe and only knew you when you were first married and right after you had your sweet girl. Instead of jumping around your blog I thought I’d just start from the beginning. And I’m so glad I did or I wouldn’t have run into this post. I, too, have the “I’m never enough” syndrome only I have yet to bury this belief with a more healthy one. I’ve struggled with an eating disorder for about 12 years and body image issues long before that. It doesn’t seem to matter whether I’m thin or I’m fat–in my mind I am not enough. I applaud your bravery and love of life after all you have been through. I’ve always strived for perfection and intellectually I know it’s impossible in this life, but there’s a very stubborn part of me that refuses to internalize it. Years of therapy, inpatient treatment centers, specialists of all kinds have not been able to help me release my inner critic. Sometimes, actually quite often, I really just want to give up, believing that a healthy mind and body is simply not ever going to be an attainable goal. I’m so tired of falling and having to get back up, put on a happy face when I’m really sad inside and fake my so-called life to the world. Maybe if I keep reading I’ll find out more about how you overcame your struggles. I feel like my hurts are so deep-even with past relationships in church, that there just may be no way out. I spend a good many of my days feeling hopeless. That’s not to say I never recognize my blessings. I do everyday, but merely existing on earth is not the life I know God has planned for me. I’ve been trying to learn from my struggles over the years and wait and wait and wait some more for Him to reveal His plan for my life. What am I missing? I’m ready for this thick, gray fog to lift and allow me to see what He has planned for me all along.
    Elin Newton

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