The other day, one of my clients said to me: “I feel like your life is so perfect.”
“Why do you say that?,” I asked.
“Because you always post such fun things on Facebook and Instagram,” she replied.
I did my best to stifle an incredulous belly laugh.
What she didn’t know was that day alone my two adult daughters had gotten into a physical altercation over undergarment ownership, I was staring at an enormous vet bill for my mentally-challenged feline who has been prescribed Prozac, and a close family member was again in the hospital due to chronic back issues. And those were actually the highlights of my day.
But how could she possibly know any of that? The basis of her opinion was my social media posts. A recent beach vacation. Media interviews I’ve done to promote my book, Big Girl Pants. Recent prom photos and borderline sappy snapshots of my love life.
Sadly, that my friends is not reality. It is social media – where we post the exceptional, the aspirational and the inspirational. Rare are the self-effacing and self-confident individuals who are able to take life’s inevitable challenges in stride and post close-ups of their blemishes. The majority of us are channeling our Stepford visions of perfection and doing our best to emulate them in photographic form.
That makes it so incredibly easy to embrace our jealous selves. In my book, Big Girl Pants, I go to great lengths to display my own tendencies to look longingly at the emerald green grass sprouting from my neighbors’ virtual yards. In fact, I spent years trying to keep up with the Joneses only to find out that not only was their life not that great, but I didn’t really even like them. They’re stuffy and boring.
My advice to my client that day who thought my life is perfect (it’s not) is simple to say and difficult to master: Be you. Be your authentic self. Everyone has bad stuff. But you have unique, positive and crave-worthy good stuff. Focus on that. It doesn’t serve any purpose to complain about what’s bad in your life or to compare it to the social media façade of your neighborhood nemesis.
As we head through the summer months, you will undoubtedly have friends posting vacation pictures from far-flung locales. You may be stuck at home, sipping your filled-to-the-rim glass of chardonnay and leering at your co-worker’s latest perfect family beach photo with her hunky husband by her side and her brilliant daughter and athletic son flanking them.
What you can’t see is her husband was up late losing a mortgage payment playing blackjack in the casino and the daughter has a bald spot in the back of her head after a tussle with her brother over the remote in the overpriced and underwhelming timeshare they are renting.
Remember, that grass you’re lusting after may appear to be perfect, but chances are it has been augmented by a fresh coat of paint. And more importantly somewhere, peering over a glass of wine, someone is looking at YOUR life thinking how good YOU have it.