Here’s what life has taught me: people are messy. There are no perfect relationships. There are no great guys or girls. Everyone’s got baggage, flaws, and glaring imperfections. Shoot, I’d say the list of mine grows daily. Or at least, my discovery of them does.
This past spring I wrote a somewhat praised, someone criticized post in response to ‘Stop Instagraming your Perfect Life’. It was an article released by Relevant magazine and I took my usual ‘take some freaking responsibility for yourselves’ approach to handling their argument that social media is a false portrayal of perfect lives that makes people jealous and insecure. I still stand by what I wrote (which you can read here, on my old blog). However, I got a little bit of a taste of the other side this week.
One of my friends who’s been going through a tough time lately gave me a compliment that sat a little awkwardly. We’d been talking about her and her life when all the sudden she flipped things around on me. Here I was smiling and nodding along with the conversation when I realized she was pointing out how perfect my life was when suddenly I thought, pump.the.brakes. My life? Perfect? Are we in the same vehicle?
So here’s where I should give some late cred to that same author from back in April. It turns out even our friends can get caught up in the good stuff in our lives and forget that no one and I mean no one has the perfect life. Maybe this is the fatal flaw in positive social media. This is not my written permission for y’all to go rogue and and emo in my news feeds. Lets be clear about that. It is however my wakeup call to honesty. Perhaps I have done such a good job of sharing my wins, my excitement, my love, and maybe even a few accomplishments in social media that I have painted for you a false sense of my reality.
People are messy and you know who’s the leader of the hot mess express? This girl. Not only is my life messy, I’m messy. Not a week goes by I don’t forget something important, put my foot in my mouth, stick my chest in my lunch plate, drag the leaky trash through half the house before I notice, or curb it on my way out of the garage for all my neighbors to see. I get way too emotional about football. I take absolutely everything work or family related too personally. I am a glutton for punishment and google media criticisms about my Dad regularly and then of course cry and scream and stomp around my house. I live on a tight budget not so gracefully. I do not like to cook for one. I am walking with friends through crummy circumstances. I am three years into figuring out the worst health issue of my life to date (and that’s coming from the girl who’s had pneumonia 8 times).
The stuff I post, it isn’t fake. I do have an amazing family. I am so blessed to be part of the 1/3 of people in my generation who are employed full-time. Not only that I have a job I love and I get to wear jeans every.single.day and I have Fridays off. Thanks to a second part-time job I am getting to travel. I have a beautiful home of almost 4 years and enough sweet people in my life to fill it up and eat food with. I have been able to live debt-free for 3 years (other than said beautiful house). I love my life and honestly, I can’t think of anyone I’d trade places with. But my life is far from perfect.
Even as I stopped this friend I reminded her that a lot of the things she’s going through now? I’ve been through. I worked a second job from 3am-7am before my 8-5 job for 2 years to dig my way out of debt. I’ve had some less than successful roommate experiences (including one who ran away with an engaged man 7 days into our lease). Ugly breakups? Check. Family drama? Check check. Back stabbing friends and passive aggressive coworkers? Done and done. Car accidents? 5 (not all as the driver and none that were my fault, I should add). Health issues? Yes. Broken appliances, dead batteries, and unplanned expenses? Plenty.
So here’s what I really wanted to say. We’re messy. All of us. And when you find people who will put up with your mess and love you where you’re at? Hang on to them. Be slow to compare yourself to others. Ask people how they are and really mean it. Know that everyone is fighting battles. Never think someone’s life is perfect. Allow yourself to be vulnerable with the right people. And most of all? Cut yourself some slack. Sometimes the laundry piles up and the dishes go undone. Sometimes you forget your lunch after you promised to quit eating out. And sometimes your battles are much, much bigger. But the truth is, life continues. It’s messy and crazy and sometimes downright brutal. I’ll go out on a limb here and say if you spend it right – it’s still worth it.
And for the crummiest times try these:
– Every single day celebrate one good thing and let go of one bad by sharing both with your best friend. Meagan and I call this high/low. When I was in my roughest season (last year) I started it. But as life ebbs and flows sometimes I need it most and sometimes she does. Either way, it’s been great for us both.
– When you’re having a particularly great day of my-life-is-so-much-worse-that-everyone-elses (and yes, we all have these days) pray for someone who’s life is in a harder place than yours. Someone facing cancer. Someone who lost a loved one. Someone who’s lost their home or whose family is broken. I promise if you think hard enough you know someone who’s in a tougher spot than you. Turns out praying for them takes the focus off you and that’s pretty healthy.
– Shower. Get dressed up. And go out somewhere with friends. It is way easier to wallow in fat clothes with a tub of ice cream at home. It is way harder to wallow when you look good and you’re out with fun people.