Time Management, Vulnerability, and Authenticity

Good morning, lovelies!

First and foremost, let’s do a recap of Operation: Time Management – Day One.

While drinking my coffee, I put together the Enchilada casserole — and it was all set and ready to roll by 0600.

Between 0600 – 0700, I put finishing touches on yesterday’s blog post, and then did a short and intense workout: 11 minutes of intensive cardio kickboxing, followed by 20 minutes of The New Rules of Lifting for Women (which I’ll refer to from now on as TNROLFW, because I live in DC and am fed a steady diet of acronyms).

The only problem was that I was still was late for work, but I was so spectacularly productive before leaving the apartment that I totally didn’t mind having to stay late in order to compensate for my late arrival into the office. WIN!

Once I got home, dinner was ready to be served up as soon as I walked in the door. It was freakin’ awesome. There was so little to do! Hooray!


And, with that, I also wanted to say that I loved all your comments on yesterday’s post. Kate brought up an excellent point about feeling alone in time management struggles: I always struggle with it and then think, “Is is just me? Why does everyone else have their act together yet I can’t seem to figure it out?” I think she hit the nail on the head with that: there’s a ton of pressure to make it look like you’ve totally got all your shiz together, even in the face of an insane amount of stuff to do and a general feeling of discombobulation.

Full disclosure: I tend to spend a lot of time feeling like a hot mess. I sprint to the bus stop each morning, my to-do list looks like it’s expanding faster than the universe, and despite using a planner and a bajillion to-do lists, I forget more appointments and tasks than I’d like to admit. As you can see, Operation: Time Management was borne out of an increasingly dire need to make things a bit more manageable.


Done is better than perfect


Just as Kate said, though, I often feel like I must be the only one who feels like this. Everyone else seems to be so put together, organized, and polished, and many people present an image of being 100% in control. They put in an hour on the treadmill each morning, show up at work looking perfectly polished, run around all day and barely eat, then go home and cook dinner in well-appointed and perfectly clean homes.

I, by contrast, can’t eat anything without wearing it, I hurriedly work out in the mornings, and, well, see the last paragraph about sprinting to the bus stop and my cosmically huge to-do lists. I wind up feeling like I’m the only person who can’t seem to get it together.

However, when I actually talk with people one on one, it turns out that almost everybody feels overwhelmed and discombobulated. This got me thinking, and I started to realize that there’s tremendous pressure in modern society — and I suspect particularly on women — to appear capable of doing ALL THE THINGS and doing them perfectly.

It’s a vicious case of superwoman syndrome: despite the inherent limitations of time and the human body, many women feel that they need to do a bajillion things flawlessly.

This perfectionism, both the self-imposed variety and the kind brought on by societal pressure, can be totally soul-shredding. One of my favorite psychologists, Brene Brown, writes about this in I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t):

“If most of us stopped to examine the expectations we set for ourselves, we would discover that…our concept of perfection is so unrealistic that it can’t exist in one person. Instead, it’s a combination of pieces or snippets of what’s perceived as perfect.”

For me at least, when I try to do everything and do it well, I wind up doing a fraction of what I wanted to accomplish and doing it poorly. When I get caught in the trap of superwoman syndrome, I start thinking that I should be able to work, cook a delicious dinner from scratch, sweat through a long workout, and do some fabulous writing — but the fact is, unless I develop a mutant superpower that allows me to sleep no more than 3 hours per night for the next 60 years with no adverse side effects, it’s just not going to happen.

It’s easy to feel ashamed when we don’t live up to this impossible standard – and that shame probably pushes people even harder to maintain the appearance of perfection. It’s a vicious cycle!

So, then, how do we break that cycle? According to Dr. Brown, the best way to do this is to be vulnerable and authentic.

Vulnerability sounds scary, but it isn’t anywhere near as terrifying as it sounds. Not to be confused with weakness, Dr. Brown notes that “Vulnerability is simply defined as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. To be human is to be vulnerable.”


Brene Brown Vulnerability


Authenticity, meanwhile, is “a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” Authenticity grows out of vulnerability.

Choosing to be vulnerable and authentic – especially in the face of tremendous pressure to be engulfed by superwoman syndrome – can be scary as all get-out, but it’s worth it. As Dr. Brown so beautifully puts it,

“When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof…we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make. Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience.”

So, in the spirit of Dr. Brown’s research, I’ll say this: as writing and blogging have started becoming bigger parts of my life — and, thus, bigger priorities, Operation: Time Management has become a necessity. I often feel like I’m failing at adulthood, but I’m hopeful that this project/series of experiments in time management will at least help me feel like I’m in a better place with all this. I’ll keep y’all posted on my progress and the results of my experiments!

Lastly, I hiiiiiiighly recommend checking out Brene Brown’s TED talk from last year on this very topic – it’s one of the most highly-watched TED talks in history, and for good reason!

With all that being said, I hope y’all have a fantastic day! And now, some questions for you:

If you were to make an effort to be more vulnerable and authentic, how would you go about doing it? Would you talk openly about your struggles? Would you rather talk with a handful of close friends and family members?

In what areas of your life do you feel you can become more vulnerable and authentic? Struggles with body image, career choices, or time management are a few examples (and they’re the things I struggle with), but I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter!

16 thoughts on “Time Management, Vulnerability, and Authenticity

  1. Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness May 14, 2013 / 7:58 am

    AH ok like, slow clap leading up to a loud clap and ending with thunderous applause and standing ovation. i NEEDED this post this morning. i feel like i could write a whole post in the comment section in reaction to your post, but long story short: everything you just said = yes. i love the vulnerability/ authentic model.i could absolutely apply those concepts to pretty much every facet of my adult life but especially my career. I need to read Brown’s book.

    • Lillian @ Seize the Latte May 15, 2013 / 7:12 am

      LOL — I love the slow clap progression! Thanks so much for this comment; I’m really glad this post was helpful for you. It was helpful for me just to write it, and I’m really glad to know that other people feel this way too. 🙂 Have an awesome day!

      • chasingchels May 14, 2013 / 10:15 am

        I hate my phone….moving on, i desperately needed to hear/read this today as i was beating myself up for being late since i can clearly control traffic. I have a huge problem with this, believing that I should be able to do it all. I’m slowly realizing that I can’t AND shouldn’t, but it’s hard to keep that in mind, especially when it feels like I’m struggling with so little compared to everyone else. I don’t have a ton going on finally right now, but it seems a struggle to get it all done right now. I try to remind myself that I’m my own person and do the best i can and that’s more than enough, but it’s hard to remember that sometimes, esp in the blog world.

      • Lillian @ Seize the Latte May 15, 2013 / 7:07 am

        LOL — I’m so glad I’m not the only one whose phone goes bananas like that! 🙂 Anyways, I absolutely understand what you’re getting at with this, and I can totally relate. It’s hard to see your own problems as legitimate when there are always people who are worse off — and there always seems to be someone saying “You shouldn’t complain about anything, because you’re not a war orphan/victim of violent crime/multiple amputee!” That said, I’ve decided that I’m just not a fan of competitive misery. The things that upset us are no less legitimate than the horrible, traumatic events that affect other people, and acknowledging the difficulty of those more mundane problems isn’t the same as conflating them with those horrific, traumatic events going on around the world.

        I know you’re working hard and that you’ve got a ton going on right now — hang in there, love! You simply being you, and you doing the best you can, are absolutely enough. In fact, they’re awesome. 🙂

  2. megbek May 14, 2013 / 10:09 am

    Goodness, so much to reply with here. Time management, to drill home your points, is something that everyone deals with at one level or another. I find that rushing out the door everyday has become a habitual thing lately and it stresses me out so much! I’ll even start sweating and panicking (even though I’m never late, ever). But, when I get to work, I’m the same old me – panic free and no one would ever have known I was stressing all morning long. I know I’m not the only one in my office who worries about getting in on time. I really enjoyed reading all of these things, especially the part about vulnerability being a strength for so many reasons. It’s the truth. I have struggles often but like you, I’m working on managing them. 🙂 All in good stride, I guess.

    • Lillian @ Seize the Latte May 15, 2013 / 7:08 am

      Thanks so much! I totally agree that it’s something we all deal with, even though a lot of people try to present the image that they’re totally free of these worries. I can completely relate to the pre-work “am I going to get in on time?” panic, and I know a lot of people struggle with it, just like you said!

  3. Alex @ therunwithin May 14, 2013 / 10:50 am

    I think we are our own worst critics. At least I know that is how I am. It is hard to feel not alone when you see positivity flowing around you if that makes sense…

    • Lillian @ Seize the Latte May 15, 2013 / 6:59 am

      It totally makes sense — when you feel like crap and everyone else seems to be floating on clouds of sunshine and glitter, it can be incredibly isolating. I can empathize! I also totally agree that we tend to be our own worst critics. I’ve started to apply the “would I talk this way or say these things to a friend?” test when I start being hard on myself — and the answer has always been no. It’s a hard habit to break!

  4. The Siren's Tale May 14, 2013 / 10:52 am

    The screaming cat face and your line “because I live in DC and am fed a steady diet of acronyms” truly just set my day off perfectly! Thanks for the great laugh on this Tuesday morning! 🙂

    • Lillian @ Seize the Latte May 15, 2013 / 6:57 am

      LOL – I’m glad you liked them! The cat face cracked me up, and I had to include it. It’s irresistibly hilarious!

  5. cookingfortheotherhalf May 14, 2013 / 5:40 pm

    This is such a great post and all just very true. It’s also good to remember that what works for one person doesn’t always work for everyone. Everyone has individual strategies that work for them, and it’s just a matter of figuring out what it is. Bravo, awesome entry girl.

    • Lillian @ Seize the Latte May 15, 2013 / 6:56 am

      Thanks, darlin’! You’re absolutely right that what works for one person doesn’t work for another — and it’s incredibly important for people remember that. (Both for ourselves and for others!) 🙂

  6. Jorie May 15, 2013 / 10:52 am

    Vulnerability and authenticity—what a great little motto for living a meaningful life. I can’t wait to watch that TED talk. Perfectionism is something I used to struggle with a lot, and still do, occasionally. I also think a lot of us in the blogosphere probably skew towards perfectionism—esp in the case of time management, because the average 9-5 worker would dismiss starting a blog because they didn’t have enough time. We’re the kooks who think we do have enough time! Unite, recovering perfectionists, unite.

    • Lillian @ Seize the Latte May 16, 2013 / 8:27 am

      Unite, indeed! Perfectionism is a huge struggle for me, and I’ve made it my mission to figure out why it’s such a huge part of my mental landscape. I figure that once I learn about its roots and why it’s such a beast for me, I can work on slaying the dragon. 🙂

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