One moment I woke up to use the bathroom at 5 in the morning. The next moment I stood horrified at the figure before me – my cousin had arrived home from her night shift at work. For me, this is the thing.
For you, it may be the way your smile doesn’t quite reach your face after a long vacation with family. Or it’s all the picture-perfect photos on your wall. When your room has been messy for a month. It’s going on a walk and finding out that you have dog poop on your shoe as you enter the house.
Some days we just wake up a little bit more cranky than usual – not so ready to face the world. And so we don’t. This isn’t the face we show the world. And why would we? After all, we’re trying to escape the thing.
The thing is all those little moments no one gets to see where things are less than perfect.
We escape the thing with our curated lives – the ones that have the most adventures, the most joyful moments, the high of the highs. Our Instagram lives are all of these chosen moments. They make it seem like you’re always having a blast. That you always have friends around you. That you’re always 100% completely happy.
But that isn’t reality. We love overemphasizing the good times. In fact, that’s what our brain does. When we look back on our memories, the pain is dulled and the happiness is magnified. That isn’t the truth of the story. But it is the story we like to tell.
Maybe we too would like to avoid the sorrows – not dwell in the aches and empty crevices of our souls.
And then, we scroll. In our boredom, in our joys, in the day to day, we find ourselves scrolling through the lives of others and wondering why our lives don’t look that way. When the moments come, as they inevitably do, we compare the joys of a false life to the sorrows of a real one. The endless scrolling can lead to envy and low self-esteem.
We either one-up the people we see online by also curating our lives to be a picture-perfect version of what “happiness” looks like. Or we sink. We sink into our thoughts about all the crappy moments life hands us – we wish for more. And when we start to wonder, “why doesn’t my life look like that?” we fall into the trap of believing we are not worth a good life.
In our jealousy and self-doubt, we feel alone.
Life is messy, folks, and you shouldn’t have to hide it. You shouldn’t have to feel as if your life doesn’t match up to anyone else’s. Because the truth is it never will. Your life is yours alone. You are the only one who is meant to walk your path and tell your story.
Delete Instagram from your phone. Remove the distractions and the source of your comparison. Go to a friend.
People are kind and more than that, they understand. We all understand what a day where everything is going wrong feels like. We all understand what it’s like to feel alone and lonely. We all understand the longing for more.
Share with your friend your struggles. Share how you woke up late, how traffic was so awful, how your computer died when you needed it most. Share about how you felt your day go from bad to worse when you saw someone at the beach and the next person was on a European vacation and the next person was surrounded by their happy, smiling friends. How you looked up and felt utterly alone.
Life is messy and sharing the hard stories are healing. While a collection of memories on Instagram is a nice thought, nothing forms a greater connection than vulnerability between friends.
In the sharing, you give someone else permission to give too. To give as deeply as they can. To give to someone else all the ways their heart has been broken by life. And together, may you stitch up your hearts and heal your wounds.
One day, if you’re lucky, you’ll look back on all the less than perfect moments and laugh. Because you’ll know that’s what got you here.
What parts of life are messy? What do you need to share?