Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Perspectives on Perfection

In the past few weeks, I've found myself engaged in several different conversations with friends who have confessed to feeling disappointed and pressured because they're "not where they're supposed to be" in life. They're not content with where they are because they're of a certain age and 12 of their friends are ten steps ahead of them and they feel so behind.

I blame Facebook.

Seriously, that site has an amazing ability to let people create perfect pictures of their lives. Upload the right photos of your new house and 2.5 kids, exchange a few cute messages with your significant other and BAM your life is impeccable in the eyes of others.

It's like this one site is perpetuating a society of people who feel bad about themselves because they don't have as much money/stuff/free time/family pictures as friend #264? And if it's getting to our generation, what the heck must it be doing to our teenagers?

Okay, maybe the keeping up with the Joneses phenomenon isn't all Facebook's fault.

It's Twitter's, too.

Just kidding.

I think most of us just have a tendency to fall into "what I'm lacking" trap instead of focusing on what we have. Some of us don't have big savings accounts. Some of us don't have jobs. Some of us are going through rough patches in relationships.

But maybe our lack of income is making us craftier and more resourceful. Maybe being out of work is giving us more time to spend with our families. Maybe the ups and downs of our relationships will ultimately strengthen them.

There is always good. You just have to look under the rug for it sometimes.

And I guarantee that the people on Facebook/the blog circuit/Twitter/your favorite coffee shop do not have perfect lives. Everyone has stuff. Everyone has flaws and anxieties and turmoil. Maybe the people who seem so pristine are just better at playing up the positives. Maybe the positives they see in their lives breed more positives. An upward spiral of sorts.

We'll never know 100% what goes on behind other people's doors. The best we can do is try to cherish what's behind our own. Or at least just close the Facebook window when it's blowing in a fowl breeze.


  1. First of all, that "fowl" breeze smells a lot like chicken.
    Secondly, I don't think any of it is FB's fault. My shrink always says there are no victims, only volunteers. And by the way, I know you're thinking, "Gee, Jeff is so well adjusted why would he see a shrink?". People have to take responsibility for themselves and for improving or getting the things they think they lack. There will always be someone or something to blame for not being where you want to be. And really, only one person is at fault.

  2. For a second, I wanted to comment on your FB post, but then realized that some of our common friends with the perfect lives could see it as snarky. So I'm posting here, hoping that said friends do not see it as it's not as "in your face" as a fb comment. (OMG, listen to myself! I need to quit fb now!)

    I love you for writing this. Some of the self-help guru books-on-tape that I listen to on my hellacious commute have similar stances and I really believe it has helped me accept my life as what it is. I should be eternally grateful for what I currently have. And I thank you for giving constant reminders and the kick in the pants that I often need. xoxo

  3. Jeff - Smells a Lot Like Chicken was one of my favorite songs in high school.

    I agree that people need to try to get what they lack - but they also need to focus on what they HAVE instead of letting the lack dominate their lives. Like you should focus on how you HAVE a shrink, not how you're lacking sanity. Just kidding. XOXO

    Anita - I'm so glad you liked the post. :) And I know who you were talking about...and I guarantee that person has butt pimples or some other terrible flaw that we wouldn't want. And I'm sorry for kicking you in the pants, but I'm glad you kind of liked it!

  4. I've definitely fallen into the trap of the Joneses, but I am also the type to just post the 100-foot view of my own life; "Friends" wouldn't have a clue of my daily struggles. Hmm, perpetuating the cycle?

    Bought a pendant this weekend, "Love the life you live." Wow, what a challenge at times but don't we owe this degree of acceptance to ourselves?

  5. Sooooo needed to read this tonight...THANK YOU!!!

  6. Thank you...so glad you are in my life. By the way, I want to know where Erin got her pendant!

  7. I love the saying "Love the Life You Live" and I have purchased a gift for someone with that quote. We have observed people with the perfect settings through the years; but it is all about priorities. Health, family, love are at the top of our list. It's ok to make sacrifices and not have "the best". No one should be judged by that.
    A lot of what's published on fb is "a sign of the times"
    and not an example of the life you live. Actually, it is similar to going to the class reunion.

  8. @ Steph: bought this at a Macys store- between labor day sale and coupon it was more like $40- look out for the next sale!

  9. [erin] - Why you gotta be so perfect all the time? ;) I love what your necklace says. Imagine if we could all do that all the time - the world would be such a happier place.

    Amy - Awe you're welcome. I'm really glad you liked it.

    The Tame Lion - I'll try! :) Thanks for stopping by my site!

    Steph - You're welcome. I'm glad too. :) We definitely need to keep this conversation going.

    AMOMymous - I think you and Dad did a really good job raising us not to try to keep up with everyone else. I definitely never felt like you two were trying to do that. Besides, who could compete with pants that had lace sewn on the bottom because they'd gotten too short...?

    Erin - I'm so glad you replied - I was going to email you and ask you for details! :)

  10. someone's mom
    your Great Grandmother had 2 special sayings that my mother also used...
    "they didn't say and I didn't ask" sooo no fb there!
    also "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything."
    I have never heard a negative word about either of these ladies.(being the daughter and granddaughter might be an influence with that). These were the generations to learn from in many ways. They were "go green" just as a way of life and survival --to keep in touch w/ family friends they wrote notes and letters, waited for lower phone rates on weekends and made the sunday evening calls--
    best of luck in your ventures!!

  11. Whatever are you talking about? People are alway envious of my fab perfect life! :P Kidding, obviously.

    I definitely agree that the pressure is more dominant w/ social media. Whether or not it's self-inflicted is another story, but people really want to present their best selves on FB (well, cept for those people that comment on every.single.thing. that happens in their life, including a bad trip to the grocery store). I'm certainly guilty of telling my best friend, "What the heck did that girl from HS do right that she's so happy?!"

    But you're right; my life appears fun to others but you know that I struggle with a myriad of emotions underneath! :)

  12. It's true. We get to be the editor, photographer and creative director of our own profile. Who wants to display boo-hoo fests on their public profile? On Facebook, we can all be like Barney on How I Met Your Mother. We can all be awesome.

  13. I've been falling prey to the comparison game lately so this post is timely for me. Thanks for it!

  14. Someone's Mom - I think we need to write a book with all the grandma/mom wisdom from our family in it!

    Jane - I may have been thinking of your last post a little when I wrote this. :) All those age benchmarks that none of us ever meet. You have an incredible life - I envy it all the time! And the emotions just come with being a girl. ;)

    Janice - Haha yes, aren't we all awesome. I don't actually have a problem with people putting their very best stuff on Facebook or blogs or wherever - I'd rather have that then a lot of sad-sack complaining. I just think sometimes it's hard for some people not to see that and think "why isn't my life that flawless?!"

    Sizz - Don't feel bad, it gets to all of us now and then!

  15. The comparison game can really sneak up on you. I remember thinking, sometime in high school, that no one should compare themselves to anyone. It was a weird thought at the time, and I haven't exactly stuck to it all my life. But I get better at it all the time, and it really is better when you actively choose to not do it. Most of all, you get to see better who YOU are in these people's lives and the importance that you carry in their world. If that makes any sense. :)


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