This week, there was a theme to many conversations - both with clients and with friends. My need to write this post came easily. We are always putting pressures on ourselves that have no real bearings on an enviable life. Clients are focusing on aesthetics first, striving to look a certain way, and then never feeling that they are achieving it. And let me tell you, it has nothing to do with what they look like, because I see them and they are changing, aesthetically. My friends around me are feeling like whether they are in a relationship or not in a relationship, that they are on the wrong path. That everyone around them is doing a better job at life than they are. That if they had kids too early, they're missing out. That if they don't have kids, they're missing out. So what mould, exactly, are we trying to fill? None of us have a clue.
We are becoming obsessed with living lives that don't exist. And I have a theory about why.
Reality tv, for one thing, is billboarding a non-reality in many cases that viewers are internalizing as a "good life". We pluck things from what we see (oh I'm supposed to carry that designer bag even though it's actually super ugly?) and plug them into our own lives. And then we go onto Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and (honestly I just can't keep up) agonize over images of the lives of our peers, or more celebrities, and try to figure out how we can match our reality to the "perfection" everyone is trying to put forward. These media are platforms for self-promotion, for managing your persona to sell. And that's fine - it is what it is. I don't think it's natural to be communicating with hundreds and maybe thousands of people all the time, about intimate details of your life. So, we pick and choose, we edit, and we put forth what we feel appears the most appealing. I do it! I play the game! We can play the game... The PROBLEM, though, is that we are then viewing and reviewing everything that everyone else is putting forward as if it's a perfectly real representation of a real human life. We must remember, it is directed, edited and we are all actually going through the same s**t. (Those of us who are not yet robots.) I bet Khloe Kardashian sometimes wishes she were a bit more subdued like Jennifer Aniston, and that Jennifer Aniston wishes she were a bit more goofy like Khloe Kardashian! So, my friends who feel like you are behind because you aren't married, or behind because you don't yet have babies - you're not. My friends who feel like you're missing out because you married early or are at home with children, you're not. If you feel like you're not successful enough, not attractive enough, not advanced in life enough, not funny enough, not whatever-the-hell-you-admire-the-most enough, you're not. You're exposed to far too much for comparison, and it's 10% real. You are just fine. You are doing GREAT.
Everybody's life is different, and if you spend too much time surfing over everybody else's mirage, you are going to lose touch with the most fascinating part of life: identifying with your own individuality. If we spend too much time trying to keep up with everyone else's buffed up and painted lives, we are going to, surely, turn into something close enough to robots.
My urging is for those of us who have been feeling like we're not enough, constantly, to snap out of it. This social media and reality tv stuff is pretty new - generations before us didn't really have to struggle with comparing themselves to thousands all at once. It's kind of crazy that we have to live in this strange new world. It has its benefits, we can be multi-dimensional being exposed to so many things (damn, those top 25 lists and baby-on-the-toilet videos are giving me laughs I'm lucky enough to experience daily). But, DO adore all of the things that are quintessentially you. As a child, you were incredibly unique, and there's a fire in that which you need to bring with you until you die. A firm hold on that uniqueness, and certainly your own adoration of it.
Hang onto that realness. There is a need for you, for your specific qualities just the way that you are, here. At your workplace, in your family, among your friends, etc. Uniqueness is the real perfection.
With any luck, realness will again be the most enviable and sought after quality to have.
PS - I opted to not even use an image in this post, because I don't want to try to represent this as something specific. What I'm saying here will mean different things to different people, and that's fine the way it is, too.