“It looks like everyone else is keeping their house beautifully and creating magazine-quality posts and cooking gourmet healthy food and raising perfect kids who eat the gourmet healthy food and follow their customized, personalized, monogrammed chore charts.”
I hear this from friends a lot. This is exactly why I started Life:Unmasked last year. Because all of this beautiful perfection? It’s a façade. It’s a farce.
It’s us putting our best foot forward. It’s natural, I suppose, but we forget everyone else is putting their best foot forward, too, and then we beat ourselves up for not doing life like Martha Stewart Living or your favorite home-style board on Pinterest.
My real life is not pinnable.
I sit at my dining table and write, surrounded by dirty dishes from breakfast and crumbs from dinner the night before. I kick toys and random shoes out of the way as I walk from my room to the kitchen to make my morning coffee. I hardly ever make our bed. I totally screwed up my school supply shopping for the kids this year.
Last week, we showed up 45 minutes early for a church dinner we hadn’t RSVP’d for and without any food to contribute to what turned out to be a carry-in dinner. My kids’ piano teacher showed up for a lesson I had totally forgotten about.
But it’s more than messy houses and messy schedules. I’m a mess.
It’s been particularly bad since our youngest was born five years ago. Fifteen months later, Elli died. Seven months after that, the church we had poured blood, sweat and tears into closed its doors. And in the middle of all of that, I completely dismantled my faith and started over.
It’s like being stuck on a roller coaster of emotional instability that won’t let me off and never levels out. One day I wake up strong, confident, passionate and on top of All The Things; the next day I wake up broken, depressed and insecure. (Sometimes it changes by the hour!) If someone asks me the wrong (right?) question, I melt (I hate crying, especially in front of others).
I am constantly fighting the urge to hide, and sometimes I lose that fight. Those are the times my kids find me huddled in the basement or the bathroom. I often find myself wondering, “What does it all meeeeaaaaannnnn?”
Can we just get this out on the table? We are not pinnable.
None of us have it all together. And you know what? That doesn’t really matter, not in any long-term meaningful way. Comparisons are a poison that distracts us from things that really matter. They keep us caught up in cheap competitions and pity parties, instead of doing the hard work of making the world a better place.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not neglecting my home or family. My children need an education, food, rest and a healthy mom. My husband needs a heathy wife. I am taking vitamins, working out and talking things out.
I’m also trying to keep my eyes on the things I can really do, things that will matter long after Pinterest becomes the stuff of legend. Things like bringing hope to mothers like Mala and young women like Sewwandi and fathers like this man who make vows to run across hot coals. Things like sharing with you how far $35 a month can go in a community without electricity, running water or roads, and praying more people will be willing to make a small sacrifice to save someone’s life. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a pretty home or delicious food, but I find much deeper lasting satisfaction when I pour my energy into helping others.
I like myself better when I reject the consumerism of the suburbs and pour my energy into helping those the rest of the world deems worthless.
What about you? How do you counteract the poisonous comparison game? What does it all mean?