Thursday, June 3, 2010

Loosen Up and Let People In

Coffee Talk Thursday

We've been talking a lot lately about having people over, and it seems like most of us really struggle with letting people in unless everything's perfect or near-perfect. If we do issue an invitation, we'll work hard to achieve a House-Beautiful look, which will stress us out, last for about a day, and leave the guests with an incorrect impression of reality at our house (and perhaps a feeling of inferiority as well, if they feel like their house doesn't look like ours on that day). Wouldn't it be so much better to just loosen up and let people in anyway?

I think freeing ourselves from the bondage of perfectionism in this regard is quite a bit like overcoming stage fright. We can be so afraid of opening the door and letting someone roam around in our house that we never do it. But, just like a person who gets up on stage and speaks before a crowd despite butterflies and nerves, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

I am learning this lesson myself, and it is surprisingly therapeutic to fight "stage fright," if you will. We have some college girls staying with us for the summer. The other day, my boys went to my bedroom upstairs to retrieve their new cat. They took one of the girls with them. I was mortified; I would never have allowed anyone in my bedroom that day, for I knew what it looked like up there with laundry baskets all around, and tubs of winter/summer clothes out for the transfer to drawers, and several stray items strewn around. I panicked for a second, but it was too late. She had seen it all. And you know what? She really didn't care, which made me realize it was probably not as bad as I thought. But my perception would have kept me from allowing anyone upstairs until it was "perfect."

When we allow people to see us as we really are, it frees us all from the trap of perfectionism. When we work so hard to get everything so right before anyone comes over, we give such a false-sense of reality about our homes, and we set others up for feeling inferior. They step in a "perfect" home and inwardly wonder why they can't make their house look like that. The irony is our homes rarely look the way we've presented them to others.

So when we loosen up a little and fight stage fright about having people over, we will begin to become more comfortable with letting people come in whenever, and we will realize getting things "just-so" isn't really that big of a deal anyway. It's scary at first, but let's just do it anyway. After awhile, we'll realize how therapeutic it really is.

P.S. The more we say "yes" to those routine chores around the house, the better things will look!


  1. I am always the most uncomfortable in homes where the woman says, "Oh, I'm sorry it's such a mess" when it is actually spotless. That makes me NOT want to have that person over!

  2. Ditto, SmallWorld at Home. If I step over a few toys on my way in the door I always feel more comfortable bringing my own children in.

    So, that's why we throw toys on the floor when people come over...just to help our guests feel more comfortable. (grin)

  3. Your last post inspired me to get more done around the house just in case (and for my sanity). I have a family goal by 9:30 am. Here's what I wrote:

    Your posts make me think. Thanks.