If you’re ever down about your house, your parenting, your marriage, your career – it seems you might want to take a break from Facebook for a few days.
How many of your friends post statuses of reality? ‘I’m having a shit-storm of a day’, ‘I feel so chubby’, ‘My marriage is like a vodka on the rocks less the vodka’. No one really does and for three reasons I imagine. One, they don’t want to air their dirty laundry for all to see; it’s classy, I get that. Two, they don’t want to be judged; let’s face it, there are a lot of assholes who always have their opinions. Three, they may not want to share a status that could potentially shatter their picture-perfect life they’re trying to present to themselves & the world. Being the recovering perfectionist that I am, I get that too.
But what if we did? What if we shared our lowest moments, our depressed days, our times of wanting to do nothing but curl up into an ass-ball and cry? What would realistically happen if we bared our underbelly of vulnerability and imperfection?
On one hand, caution is needed with what we share with the public. You can’t very well post publicly, that you want to stab your manager in the eye with a spoon, since there’s a high chance it could get your ass fired. And sharing details of a row with your husband isn’t exactly respectful when you have mutual friends.
However on the other hand, I don’t think sharing that we’re having a rough day is a bad thing. In fact, it may not only be refreshing for others to see that we’re not Stepford Wives after all, but will also welcome much-needed encouragement in return.
So what are we afraid of? We hate the not-so-flattering photos we’re tagged in because we didn’t have a chance to touch them up or chose the best-angled tummy shot. We can’t say we’re feeling discouraged at work when it seems our friends are flourishing in their new promotion. We can’t say we gained five pounds when your girlfriend just lost twenty. So maybe it’s pride, fear, losing control or otherwise exposing the imperfections we try so desperately to hide. And if we’re fearful of being judged by a honest expression, those 451 ‘friends’ we have probably aren’t our real friends anyway.
The other day, I posted a very ‘ugly-face’ pic of myself. I mean I intentionally made the most horrid face possible and asked my friends to post something silly in return. You know only ONE friend actually did? One percent of my friends, family, acquaintances wanted to share an unflattering side of themselves. (yes, this means I only have 100 friends and I’m proud of that!)
I’ve posted when I have battles with anger – that unleashing myself in a murderous fury is more enticing than meditative yoga. The surprising thing is, I get few responses. Maybe it rattles people, unnerves them, or for some – shines a light on something they don’t want to admit about themselves. Or maybe they don’t know what to say. But I reach out with honesty and share my dark side for a reason. I want feedback, I want encouragement, I want to know that I’m not alone in my occasional breakdowns, sticky floors or needing a drink at 11 am. I want to feel connected with other moms who want to run away, or bonded with girlfriends who also have fat-days, or identified with someone random who also wants to shave their heads and get a tattoo.
As human beings, we need that sense of belonging. It’s why so many people join support groups, religions, gyms, organizations etc. We want to reach out and say, ‘We’re not alone’. But so often we hide behind a facade of ‘perfection’. We think we’re being protective, smart, tough. In reality, all we’re doing is driving a wedge between us and the world, or more intimately, between us and our friends and family. What if a status of our ‘perfect’ children, can actually make a threadbare mom even more worn out? What if our post bragging about a work-bonus just made someone struggling to make ends meet, plummet even further into hopelessness? What if our status of the day boasting about how many miles we ran and the organic meal we ate, makes someone battling an eating disorder descend into deeper self-loathing? Do we really want to be responsible for all that?
While our online sharing can encourage or inspire, too much of the sunshine shit can end up hurting someone. The truth is, this life is imperfect, but we do have moments of perfection. I think it’s important to temper positive radiance with cloudy reality. The honesty and balance will not only bring us closer to ourselves with self-acceptance and forgiveness but also will bring us closer to those we care about – even those we may not know.
Take Ellen DeGeneres for example, or Molly Shannon, or Oprah even. People gravitate to and are attracted to those who show their emotional sides, their funny sides, who don’t take themselves or their images so seriously. We love them because it helps us accept all those quirks about ourselves. And self-acceptance is a very hard battle these days when we’re bombarded with unrealistically enhanced photos of fitness models, airbrushed celebrities and the tail end of the Martha-freakin’-Stewart housewife societies.
The next time I’m damn proud of an accomplishment or ‘perfect’ moment, I will be sure to mention that it’s well-deserved considering the storm I just emerged from. Even if no cares, or no one is impacted either way, I am telling myself that light cannot exist with darkness and that acknowledgement can relieve so much self-imposed pressure. We don’t have to do all, be all, have all. We can have an 11 am drink on occasion, we can revel in our depression for a few hours, we can have strawberry jam-covered floors – but we can also bask in the perfection of swinging in the sun with our children, getting a much-needed bonus or having the sweetest dinner date with our spouse.
Even if we don’t do Facebook, blog or Tweet our lives, we can still be honest when someone asks how we are or when discussing topics like parenting challenges or weight loss struggles.
A little self-deprecation, a little baring of our souls, a little sharing the good moments and bad – will all make us more open to others and ourselves. We’re more relate-able, more approachable, more down-to-earth. I’ll take that reputation any day if it means someone knows how my house looks right now or how my post-baby tummy happily sits on my lap.
Now, it’s 11:02 am. Time for a cocktail while I clean my floors.