Discover more from the gold standard.
No. 38: Showing Up the Way You Want to be Shown Up For
plus the May favorites, of course
Last month, I read The Perfectionist’s Guide to Losing Control by Katherine Morgan Schafler and segments of it have rolled around in my brain ever since—namely my “perfectionist style.” Turns out, I’m a “Parisian Perfectionist” and a “Procrastinator Perfectionist.” None of those things will make sense to you until you read the book, but for today that doesn’t matter. All you need to know is that I feel like raw flesh walking around without my skin. Exposed. Sensitive. And truthfully, kind of gross.
Shafler says Parisian perfectionists possess a live-wire understanding of the power of interpersonal connection and hold a strong capacity for empathy. Left unchecked, their desire to connect to others can metastasize into toxic people-pleasing. I read that and literally gulped like Goofy himself.
“Named after the effortless fashion sense of Parisian women, Parisian perfectionists seek to be viewed as easygoing, uncomplicated and "perfectly liked" by others, says Morgan Schafler. Parisian perfectionists are great at making people feel seen and comfortable – but sometimes at the expense of "their own sense of identity," she adds¹.”
It’s timely that I read this book in a season where O and I were desperately trying to find a way to have a couple days to ourselves before this baby arrives. We have committed to at least two days a year where we have time without the kids together to pour into this marriage as sane, fully-present, somewhat rested humans and seeing as I give birth to our fourth barnacle in one month, give or take, the time was now.
The only bump in the road is this: we don’t have a nanny or childcare. Up until two weeks ago, we hadn’t had a babysitter since 2019. A couple times a year, I’ll ask my parents to take the kids but my parents are also very busy with life, tons of travel and a hundred other grandkids. I live near five of my siblings which always has people assuming we’re doing a steady babysitting rotation but logistically, that just isn’t realistic. Yes there are playdates and sleepovers and lots of life together but we all have different schedules, are in different seasons, have different thresholds and full lives. This means when O and I are trying to plan these two or three days away every year, all the stars MUST align perfectly.
And this year, the stars were doin’ the cha-cha slide.
So cut to me, newly aware of this flaw, in need of help and ready to remain unwilling to ask for it. Asking for someone to watch the kids when every single person has a glaring neon sign above them that reads “INCONVENIENT” is what my night terrors are made of. I don’t want to force anything on anyone…ever. If I feel an ounce of pushback, I will pull back. If things aren’t offered out of thin air (for example, “Jill! It’s your anniversary and the baby is due next month, it’s my dream take the kids so you two can get outta town for a couple days!”) it takes everything in me to speak up. Even if the answer is yes, the asking of it all leaves me feeling a deep guilt that they only said yes because they were on the spot.
I realize how insane this sounds. It’s all very Jennifer Anniston shouting “I want you to WANT to do the dishes!”
But since this book, I’m unravelling myself. And I’m learning this quality I thought was considerate and admirable—a strength—is actually a weakness.
I’m not a “manifesting girlie” as the youngins (or tiktokers) would say. I don’t believe in “speak it believe it receive it” or “name it claim it”—I’m more of a James 4:13 kinda gal. That being said, Lord willing, I’ll write a book one day. And a chapter I’ve chipped away at in jogs and showers and midnight nurses for years is “I just wanna be liked, I just wanna be funny.” I first heard John Mayer sing those words when I was 11 and I had never felt more seen.
We don’t have the space or the time here for me to explain all the ways I’m built on one of the worst kind of foundations—the kind that says “the other kids don’t like me and I don’t know why.” Preaching the gospel to myself, talking regularly about it with O and my sister and working this out in counseling has lifted the curtain on this foolishness a bit…but it’s still there. Like a bomb vest on a terrified woman, the untangling is slow and deliberate but absolutely necessary. This foundation, while it still lives, tries to convince me that I am more lovable when I need nothing.
Asking hard questions would, of course, uncover the truth: I love being able to help the ones I love. It’s in the moments of vulnerability in relationships where trust and closeness are built. It’s saying “I forgot to grab tortilla chips, would you mind grabbing a bag?” to your friend when they’re coming over for dinner. It’s ignoring the urge to say “don’t worry about it!” no less than one thousand times when someone offers assistance that you truly need and won’t take. It’s simple, really.
It’s showing up for others the way you want to be shown up for and allowing the gems in your life to do the same for you.
My mom jumped at the chance to watch my kids despite knowing it was the same weekend she and my dad were moving. She urged me to book the trip and after double and triple checking, I did. A couple days before leaving town, my sister—the one who is pregnant and due the exact same day as me with her third baby— called to tell me there was no way my parents’ house would be ready to have kids in it and that she and my incredible brother in law would keep them instead. She had concocted a plan, laid out exactly why she would fight to have them and even though she’s one of my best friends on the planet, I protested.
It was too much to ask. Too much to need.
But now, a couple days after scooping my kids up at her house, I can honestly say those three days were life changing. My sister and brother in law inconvenienced themselves to serve us and every time I felt guilty or stressed, O said “you would do the exact same thing for them—let them do it for you and enjoy it.” I didn’t do it perfectly, but I did my best. And for the first time, my best was actually better.
For anyone who struggles to ask for help, consider that it might be pride in the way rather than consideration. For anyone who faces fear of not being good enough or worthy enough to need something as simple as help or as complex as respect, know that it is a lie. And for anyone who is currently pulling back in self preservation, look where you can be vulnerable instead.
Show up the way you want to be shown up for—with joy and sacrifice—and when the time comes for someone to show up for you in the same way, let them. It’s a beautiful thing.
1. “What Kind of Perfectionist Are you?” By NPR
O and I always listen to a “How I Built This” episode on road trips and we were delighted by the Alamo Drafthouse episode on our drive home from Austin. In Virginia, the Alamo was our hands down favorite movie theatre so it has a soft spot in our hearts forever. It’s so rare that the interview focuses more on a marriage relationship and heart behind the business than the scaling and numbers-though they definitely did dive all the way in to that aspect as well. I loved the reminder to do something for the love of it.
Speaking of movies, my friend Ashlee put summer movie clubs on my radar and I’m absolutely flabbergasted. I feel like I’m stealing from the movie theatre, honestly, so I can’t help but shout it from the rooftops. The Cinemark theatres near us are offering a Summer Movie Clubhouse where every Wednesday for a stretch of the summer, they’ll play a movie in the morning for $1.50. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?? I plan on sneaking in as many as possible before this baby arrives in July and soaking up this sweet tradition so we’re already booked for Minions and Sonic!
O and I have used The Verses Project to memorize scripture for years and this version of Psalm 139:13-14 is just absolutely stunning to keep rolling around your mind if you’re expecting. It’s the life verse given to me by my dad when I was little and is always top of mind during pregnancy.
If you’re a monthly reader rather than a weekly reader, you missed Four Perfect Capsule Wardrobes for whatever your summer looks like, a Love Letter for our 12 Year Anniversary and my favorite Mother’s Day letter I’ve ever written sharing my true, vulnerable thoughts eight years into this role. There were also two podcast episodes for the good as gold listeners so this might be the month you want to join the weekly squad (because it’s more fun that way, promise!)
“5 ways Tim Keller was the anti-celebrity pastor” was a beautiful read and just the loveliest tribute.
Lastly, If you don’t have a handheld fan on hand at all times, can I politely ask what you’re even doing in your life? How have you survived this long? This little fan makes me feel safe in all situations. You never know when you’ll need to lift up your shirt and handle that bra sweat situation or take care of the sweat stache. (I also keep a couple of these in the car for the kiddos just incase)
This month is a big one here in the Atogwe household. We’ll make one more road trip next week before staying put for the rest of summer. We have dance recitals and basketball camps and work deadlines and everything in between. O is hoping the baby comes early to share his birthday at the end of the month and I’m praying I find the time to actually work a little bit ahead. I’ll be writing more vulnerably, I’m sure, and I’m more grateful for you and this space than ever.
Have a beautiful weekend, friends. Happy June!
the gold standard. is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.