We all live a life that is perfect. Perfect families with perfect children. Perfect jobs which afford us perfect homes and perfect family vacations. We KNOW that it is so because we see it on social media. Smiling faces in clean houses. Proud parent of an honor roll student at "x" school bumper stickers. We all live well rounded lives with family meals full of lively discussion after homework is done and the favored sport has been triumphantly won.
Only it's not. I know it's not; you know it's not. Yet, the fallacy continues. It stares out at us day by day.
Everything in my life is far from perfect. That is not to say my life is awful and that the world is shattering around me. It's simply that my life is complicated and often difficult. Logically, I know that this is true for almost everyone. (Heck, I'm 99.99999% sure it's true for EVERYONE.) But because of this perfect illusion, it seems like I (and you if you are feeling the same way at this moment) are alone in life's struggles.
Life is full of struggles. Little ones: what can I wear today and why does this look so awful on me? (This is the little one that often feels so incredibly big.) Medium sized ones: why am I caught in this vicious cycle with my child doing well in school only to have said child turn around and seemingly purposefully screw up in multiple subjects? (The one that drives me and the family dynamic to the brink.) Large ones: Serious illness or financial difficulties that seem insurmountable and leave you crawling into the black hold of despair.
Usually it is the little and medium ones that consume us. They are all too common, yet they feel unique. No one wants to share these little struggles; no one wants to break the facade of perfection.
Let me break unwritten law: while my life is far from awful and in general it is pretty good, it is FAR from perfect. We are mostly a single income family (which in NJ is difficult), which means finances CAN be a challenge. Despite what you may hear, the employment picture is not as rosy as you may be lead to believe. Nothing is a given; any one of us can be employed today and NOT tomorrow and none of it would be a reflection on quality of work. My husband has some (not so serious) health issues. Healthcare is not cheap. I shudder to think of what it would be like without insurance (which is a nightmare unto itself) and if a true health crisis happened to any one of us. My son is a teenager. That in itself should let you know how stressful my life is. He is not into sports. Academically, he doesn't apply himself; nor does he learn from his past mistakes. (You know that: let him fail so that he can learn mantra? In my house it's complete BS. Which is why this parent has laid down the law for the LAST TIME and is making all [most?] of the decisions that my son, as wonderful a kid as he is, does NOT make wisely.) The weather here in NJ in March is total crap (that's putting it nicely) and while we haven't had that much snow, shoveling my walk and driveway (particularly the apron of the driveway where the town snowplow shoves all the gunk from the street and it hardens) would break the back and spirit of Pollyanna.
Again, my life IS pretty darned good. I KNOW that. But the lies of social media and general chit chat can bring me down. No one wants to talk about the imperfections, I get that. Who doesn't like to brag? I'm just like the rest of the world. I like to show off all the good stuff and bury the not so good. And while I'm truly happy that your kid made high honor roll, made the winning goal or will be starring in the Broadway revival of "Kiss Me Kate;" I'm thrilled that you were promoted, are spending a week in Aruba or expanding your deck and adding an in ground pool. However, I'm human and the good fortune of others sometimes makes me feel lesser. Maybe some days you feel the same. Success is everywhere, but where you are. Perfection is all around, but avoids you.
Perfection is an illusion. You know it. I know it. But we still buy into it. We can TRY not to. We can let rational thought overtake the emotional response. It might work; it might not. I CAN promise you, that you are NOT alone. No matter how isolated you might feel in your imperfection, you are NOT alone. I'm testament to that. (I'm also more than willing to lend an ear...leave a comment and I WILL get back to you.)