Let’s get real. Life is not a series of calculated and perfectly crafted Facebook moments. Life is raw and honest. It’s good and it’s bad. It is full of ups and downs. It is really easy to look at friends’ Facebook accounts and see photos of their beautifully dressed and well-mannered families, while you sit at home looking around your living room, complete with red sauce splattered on the walls, toys strewn across the floor, babies screaming, toddlers tantruming, and think, “Sh*t! What am I doing wrong?! Why are we such a mess? Why can’t I get it together?”
But there are two things I’ve come to realize. One: no one’s family is perfect. Everyone (myself included) is only posting the very BEST moments of their lives–the moments that showcase glimpses of improbable and impossible perfection. Because that’s where Facebook Reality lives. NOT real reality. And two: those little glimpses? They are nice, sure, but it’s not where the true, good, raw, learn-from stuff lies. It’s in the rest of the moments – the 99.9% of life’s other, non-Facebook Reality moments – where LIFE actually occurs. And once again, life – with its good and bad, its ups and downs – is where it’s at. Don’t be fooled by Instagrams of perfection: life is where we ALL live. Yes, all of us. Even the guy at the gym with biceps for days and the CEO of That Company with the darling family and beautifully landscaped house on the lake. And this a good thing, because without the challenges of real life, we would never be afforded opportunities for growth, learning, striving, failure and bouncing back. We would never have opportunities to see just what we’re made of. Because each and every one of us IS capable. We all have our own unique strengths and abilities, and it is only through the testing of our limits and being thrown clear out of our comfort zones that we learn just how strong and able we really are.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a person who thoroughly enjoys remaining tight inside my warm, cozy comfort zone. I like it here. I keep an extra set of sweatpants, a few bottles of wine, and plenty of BRAVO TV. In this space, the kiddos are all also sleeping soundly by 7 p.m. And frankly, on any given evening, given the choice between this and pretty much anything else, I’ll choose my comfort zone. Going outside this comfort zone actually causes me a bit (or a lot, depending on the particular situation) of anxiety. I will undoubtedly fight and fight–fists clenched and legs kicking–to remain in my sacred space. But, as parenthood, my husband, and life in general are teaching me to do, it is important to get out there — to actually go LIVE life, even if it causes trepidation and moments of difficulty — because this is where the learning, enjoying, challenging, growing and memory-making exist.
This is certainly not easy for me. I am a person who enjoys quietude and solace (read: though I’m social and enjoy my friendships, I’m an introvert), I’m highly sensitive, and I live with a lot of anxiety. I am worried constantly, about everything and anything. I have a hard time being present in the moment because my brain is always conjuring up what-if scenarios and solutions to every possible thing that could ever go wrong. Though I’ve spent a lifetime learning to manage and live well with anxiety, just like being an introvert and extremely sensitive, it is woven deeply into the fabric of my soul. Though my anxiety, introversion and sensitivity offer me many gifts – I’m exceptionally efficient and conscientious, I have a rich inner world, and I’m extremely empathetic – they also cause me strife as a human in this chaotic world, and as a wife and a mother. Especially because I am married to one of the most extroverted extroverts I know (a post for another time), and my children – as children are wired to do – tests the limits of my comfortability every day.
So why do I bring this all up? Expose my vulnerabilities? Because I am not perfect. Because I don’t live in Facebook Reality. I live in REAL reality. The world we all live in, but don’t post about. The world we (or at least I) wish more people would showcase and discuss openly, because it makes us all feel like less of failures, and certainly less alone. Because it reminds us that we – you me, the guy with the biceps and that insanely successful CEO – are all in this together. None of us is perfect; our lives (and many of our houses) are messy, and you know what? Thank goodness because we are all the better for it.