The title for this post might sound a bit harsh at first, but stick with me. Because it’s really about human connection. And I’m not meaning to judge anyone or put anyone off. Instead, I’m just sharing my preference. Actually, that’s not really true, it’s kind of a strong belief I have in general about people. Because when it comes down to it, I’ve never really felt like my life was going the way I wanted it to. I grew up in a wreck of a family, and have had ups and downs in life ever since. So, I don’t really relate at all to people who seem to have perfect lives. And I’m not really interested in hearing about another person’s perfect life. For reasons I will get into below.
If you’re already starting to feel paranoid that this post might be about you, don’t worry! This is not about any one specific person, and this is something that I have been meaning to write about for awhile now. It’s honestly something I feel really strongly about and am even guilty of doing myself at times. So, to all of my precious followers, don’t worry, it’s not you, it’s me! And as always, when I write something rather polarizing, I ask you to take it all with a grain of salt.
I also consulted a lot of dear friends about whether or not I should write about this topic. Some advised against it, and some couldn’t wait for me to publish this post! And I so appreciate receiving such varied perspectives. Because it helps me to grow. And I also understand that some people actually find sharing about their real and raw shit very triggering. Which for me, is the opposite when it comes to my healing journey. So, please know, I feel you all. Or at least, I’m trying. And that’s all I can do.
Basically, I’m about to sound like a huge, bitter, asshole. And maybe I am (at least with regards to this post). So, apologies in advance.
DON’T GET ME WRONG
Okay, so firstly, I want to say that it’s not that I don’t appreciate if a person has a perfect life. If a person has blessings and beautiful things in their life that they want to share, that’s great! I have blessings and beautiful things in my life that I share with people all of the time. So, it’s not about me wishing bad things for people. Or me not wanting people’s dreams to come true. It’s more about a person’s need to constantly and consistently share only about their perfect life, without dabbling into any of the real and raw, that annoys the F out of me.
THERE’S A PLACE FOR “PERFECT LIFE VIBES,” AND IT’S CALLED MARTHA STEWART LIVING MAGAZINE
I’m the first person to tell you how much I love Martha Stewart Living Magazine. Actually, I don’t even know if this is in print anymore. However, any lifestyle magazine, on any given shelf, in any given store, has magazines like this. Martha Stewart was pretty much the first of her kind to create an entire brand around having a perfect life. And she did this to the max. For me, it also appealed to my artist nature, since everything that Martha Stewart does, relies heavily on beauty and aesthetic value.
However, the lifestyle she promotes is not a very realistic one for the everyday person. Because many of her lifestyle hacks are super unobtainable and/or difficult to achieve. So, unless you have massive amounts of disposable income and time, you just won’t ever get to live like Martha Stewart. And that’s okay. I know that going into it, and I just enjoy the inspiration she provides. And I often indulge in Martha Stewart vibes as an escape into fantasy, which is awesome.
But, when I come across real life folks who sort of have the Martha Stewart vibe, I get instantly suspicious. And a bit put off. Because even and especially Martha Stewart had problems. And her perfect outside was kind of a mask for her imperfect inside. Now that she’s been in and out of jail, I think she’s loosened her grip a bit in terms of what she shares with everyone. And people love her now, because she’s much more raw and a bit more relatable than ever before. However, she’s also such a brilliant business woman, that I think she just learned that people want to know about the real her, and will warm to her much more than if she’s cold, distant, and too perfect.
THE OLDER I GET, THE MORE I REALIZE THAT NO ONE HAS THE PERFECT LIFE
Since I came from a broken-ish home, I was always very, very self-conscious about the way others viewed my life. And was very sensitive when other people seemed to shove their perfect life in my face. I would always wonder, if I had a different family situation, would my life have turned out better? Or, do these seemingly perfect people have deep, and real, and raw problems, just like the rest of us? I still ponder this question at times, which is why I have less and less patience for people who flaunt their perfect life. And the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve seen how things are often never what they appear. Sometimes, the relationships and situations that seem the tightest, are actually quite fragile. And those relationships and situations that seem a bit off to the external world, are built on very sturdy footing. And honestly, everything in between, there is such a range.
Needless to say, I think it’s good for me to keep in mind that things are rarely what they seem. And it’s totally possible that a person is only choosing to show the spectacular parts of their life because they would rather keep the rest private. I just don’t really operate that way, so this is kind of a foreign concept to me. But, I’m trying to understand it. Baby steps.
One of the greatest shows of all time, Mad Men, was built around the idea of what dark and twisted shadows lie beneath the perfect facade of life in the 1960s and 70s.
A PERFECT LIFE IS SUPER BORING
I admit, I’m constantly striving to have a perfect life. Or, at the very least, an awesome life. But, it’s true, when things are going swimmingly, there’s really not much to share or expand upon. And again, maybe this is some people’s experience with life in general. However, I think a more realistic understanding of life is that it ebbs and flows. There are waves of good and bad, sad and joy, that move in and out of our lives like the tides of an ocean. If you are a human being, you have a story, filled with light and dark things. You must! And if you don’t have any of the darkness lurking about, then I’m just super confused.
Are you repressed? Or, are you not being honest with yourself, and therefore with the rest of the world? Are you simply untouched by life’s twists and turns? And if so, how can that possibly be?
Either way, why would I want to hear about only the good stuff? That’s just so boooorrrrinnngg!
“While striving for perfection can be seen as a great character trait for something like a job interview, studies show that perfectionism can harm one’s mental health. Increasingly, young adolescents hold unrealistic expectations on what they should own, how they should look, or what they need to achieve, which is linked to higher rates of anxiety. This focus on perfectionism can be destructive—more than a mental health risk factor, it can be a physical one as well, Tyler explains. Studies on the role of perfectionism and physical health in college students, for example, tell us that those striving harder for perfection tend to report more health problems such as headaches, physical tension, and insomnia as well a decline in general health wellness over time. Essentially, what is known about perfectionism is that it can serve as the underlying cause of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and poor physical health. What’s even more concerning is that rates of mental health problems and rates of perfectionism are increasing in the United States.”–Penn Medicine News
HEARING ABOUT YOUR PERFECT LIFE JUST MAKES ME FEEL LIKE SHIT ABOUT MY OWN LIFE
Perhaps people who share about their perfect life are attempting to inspire others. And I appreciate if that is where a person is coming from. However, in general, hearing about another person’s perfect life, just makes me feel like shit. Because not everyone has good things going on in life. Many, many, many human beings are struggling daily. And it’s just not helpful to hear updates that are not relatable.
I’m not advocating for darkness 24/7 either. Because I have definitely been in a place where I only identified with and shared about my pain. And I know many people who do that as well. And that is also super not helpful. Wallowing in darkness is almost as bad as flaunting your perfection. As always, I’m kind of striving for balance. And if you insist on sharing about your perfect life, then give me a bit of that real and raw darkness to go with it. Otherwise, I can’t relate to you at all. And if I can’t relate to you, then all you’re doing is making me feel more alone.
MANY PEOPLE LOVE HEARING ABOUT ANOTHER PERSON’S PERFECT LIFE. I’M JUST NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE
I get it, sort of. A person puts their entire life, and time, and money, into building a beautiful family and making a beautiful home. Of course they would want to share that with the world. It’s their everything, and their source of pure joy and happiness. But OMG it triggers me and I don’t want to hear about it! Because guess what?! I don’t have any of that. And I want all of that, just like most of us. This hurts, and I feel ashamed, and I feel like it’s my fault. And maybe it is. But maybe, it’s not my fault at all, and it’s just the reality of things. Either way, I’m over it!
After my devastating breakup, I discovered an amazing podcast called Heal Your Heartbreak. And the first episode I listened to was called, “Break Ups After 30 With Lisa Cleary.” In this episode, and in her book, she talks about Toxic Milestone Mentality. And how this can be really unhealthy for the modern human being trying to navigate life in the 21st century. Some of these toxic milestones include:
GRADUATING HIGH SCHOOL AND GOING TO COLLEGE
GRADUATING COLLEGE (IF YOU’RE DOING IVY LEAGUE, YOU’RE NAILING IT, APPARENTLY)
GETTING PROMOTED, CORNER OFFICE, HEAD OF THE COMPANY, ETC.
PURCHASING A HOME (IF YOU HAVE AN ADORABLE DOG, YOU’RE DEFINITELY NAILING IT)
If you can accomplish all that before the age of 40, which many, many perfect human beings do, then you ain’t got no problems. At least according to our society and what they deem as perfect. However, if you haven’t achieved those things, in that order, or if you’ve missed any of those steps…holy hell the shame! The embarrassment. I mean, why even bother continuing, honestly? That’s how terrible it feels to not have achieved these things. When everyone else is sharing their perfect lives on social media. Regardless of whether or not we’ve even stopped to consider whether we actually want ANY of it.
I was at a funeral several weeks ago, and feeling really raw and sad in general. And my family and I ran into a woman we hadn’t seen since we were teenagers. And she took one look at my twin sister and I and blurted out, “Any kids?”
My twin sister and her husband have chosen not to have children, and made this choice early on in their relationship. She just said, “No” and returned this woman the same rudeness that she had given us. I, on the other hand, felt so caught off guard, I couldn’t even answer. And I just broke eye contact with her in order to survive. Because not only do I want children and don’t have them. But, I just lost a three-and-a-half-year relationship, against my will, that I thought would bring me all of those dreams. And there’s not one damn thing I can do about it.
After the woman left our table, I began sobbing quietly, trying to keep it concealed, but unable to hold back my painful tears.
I DON’T THINK SHARING ABOUT YOUR PERFECT LIFE IN THIS DAY AND AGE IS HELPFUL
For me, hearing about or seeing snippets of a person’s perfect life isn’t really helpful. I’m just not sure what’s to gain from it. I suppose people feel inspired or something? When they see another person on fire with perfection. Yeah, no, I’m sorry, I just can’t get there. I hate it. And don’t find it helpful.
Instead, I want to hear about something real from you. I want to know some of your darkness and some of your struggles. Not because I want you to be in pain. But because we all have this, and the sooner we share about it together, the closer we become. And the less alone in life we feel. Sharing about your perfect life is essentially putting yourself on a mountaintop. And it leaves everyone else beneath you, lonely, and cold, and feeling like they’ve failed. So, why not come back down to Earth for a sec, and hang out in the real world?
SHARING OPENLY ONLY INVITES IN MORE LOVE, MORE UNDERSTANDING, AND MORE COMPASSION
I am lucky in that I was born incapable of keeping my feelings and thoughts inside. And I admit that if I was born a little boy, I would’ve been fucked. Because I most likely would have learned really early that talking about how I truly feel is really unacceptable. And I might have struggled in a really scary way to process all that was going on within me. I can’t apologize for being born a girl. However, I do understand and acknowledge the advantage I have in this respect.
Check out my podcast episode, “Bringing Goddess Awareness To The Male Wounds Of Toxic Masculinity.”
And I admit that even though it was more acceptable for a girl to share about her feelings, I still carried shame about this. Because I wasn’t always surrounded by people who wanted to hear my feelings. Or, who could meet me at an honest place with their own feelings. However, because I just couldn’t help it, I have stayed this way into adulthood. And this need to always share my honest thoughts and feelings has actually really served me in my adult life.
Because I now find that if I’m conversing with someone who is closed off or shy, and I share something genuine about myself, they tend to open like a flower with me. I have had so many people over the years tell me that they don’t ever share this kind of thing with others, but for some reason, they felt comfortable with me. And as much as I would love to say I’m a powerful goddess witch who is able to cast spells on those around me, it’s just not true. It’s not magic, and I’m not extra special. I’m just comfortable being open. And me being open always lets people in.
And do you know why I do this? Because I don’t want to feel alone in life, any more than anyone else does. And when someone shares their true feelings with me, then I feel connected. And really, isn’t that why we are all here?
APOLOGIES IF I’VE OFFENDED
I can feel how some of you may be second-guessing yourself at this point, or cursing me, or unfollowing me. And I understand, although I certainly hope not. Even more, I want to reassure you that if you share about happy and positive things going on in your life, keep doing that! I do that all the time, and would never want to stop doing that. And this is not what this post is about. This is more about those extreme cases where people tend to blatantly share only perfect, cookie-cutter, exquisitely curated posts, and comments, and pictures. Especially in the face of my suffering. Because I’m just not here for that.
I’m sort of sorry, not sorry. I really, really don’t want to offend anyone. And of course, I’m a super sensitive person, and always want everyone to love everything I do. And yet I’m also cursed with my stubborn, outspoken, strong-willed, goddess expression, that usually trumps all of my sensitivities. So, I really do hope that you were able to get something out of this read, even if it was just a fresher perspective. And if you downright hated it, I totally respect that as well. I would love to hear your comments as always, and invite you to be gentle if you do have something antithetical to share! 🙂 xo
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Featured photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash
Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg photo obtained here
Mad Men photo obtained here
Perfect family photo by Jessica Rockowitz on Unsplash
Mountaintop photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash
Holding hands photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash