The Myth of the Perfect Life

The Myth of the Perfect Life

We’ve all heard people talk or write about this subject. The seductiveness of Fakebook. The way we all put our best images forward on social media and end up appearing to have only happy children, loving moments with partners and spouses, neat bedrooms, big smiles

You’d think that as a therapist, I’d be very realistic about how there is NO perfect life. I hear wonderful, successful people talk all day about their fears, insecurities, relationship challenges. But it gets me too–and often. The comparison thoughts. The creeping-in doubts that other people don’t yell at their kids as much, roll their eyes at their husbands as much, have such messy kitchens. Those thoughts are seductive.

A long time ago I became aware that the people I am closest to are the people who have shared their tales of suffering with me. I wondered, “Is that weird? Why do I need to have friends with neuroses; with baggage?” I have 2 friends in the world who are remarkably stable, calm, and confident. I LOVE these people, but there are ways in which I haven’t been able to relate to them. Most of us have, at some point in our lives, marinated in self-doubt, anxiety, and overwhelm.

The average person who appears to have no issues like that is most often the one who has tamped them deepest down. I spend less time in those dark places as I get older and keep working at it. But I believe it’s powerful to be appropriately honest about my own struggles. It’s the sharing of our time in those hard spaces that lends most of us a mark of realness and helps others feel normal and comfortable around us. It’s a gift we give to each other to be brave enough to be vulnerable together. It helps us embrace and even celebrate our own challenges and the way they make us unique; the way they make us US.

It’s the holiday season in our country. The time of year when happy family pictures, beautifully decorated homes, calm and lovely gatherings are considered to be the mark of a good and healthy life. I wish everyone reading this ALL of that. But the fact is, most of us will ALSO feel stressed, anxious, annoyed, stuffed, greedy, lazy, or depressed at some point.

Make room for those feelings too. Know that you are in good company. Life is hard AND beautiful. Winter is cozy AND interminably long. You can shine AND sink. You’re not alone in being a lovely, messed up, human.

Happy almost New Year,