It’s a natural human tendency to compare ourselves, our lives and especially our appearance to others. Whenever we catch up with friends and ask how they’re doing, the most common answer is, “good.” We tend to automatically respond with a favorable, upbeat answer.
Giving the appearance of “all good” is widespread, especially on social media. We see images of happy news, upbeat narrative, inspirational memes, hilarious cat pictures, and videos of jumping goats. It seems that everyone is doing fantastically. Their relationships are going spectacularly, their jobs are amazing, and life’s just peachy for everyone.
We don’t get to see the dark times. We don’t get to see their struggles. And since we don’t get to see that, it’s hard to relate to folks when we’re dealing with our own struggles and think everyone else’s lives are just dandy.
What many folks share is the highlight reel, and we’re still trying to manage our behind-the-scenes. We compare everyone’s spectacular life against our struggles.
We’re judging ourselves for not being perfect.
Let’s stop doing that, okay?
Another thing we rarely witness is what happened in the spaces between the highlight reels. When a friend shares that she finally found an amazing partner, we forget the arduous dating experiences she had. When a former coworker announces on his Facebook that his business finally broke six figures and he gets to buy the car of his dreams, we pay very little mind to the eviction he faced, the hell of having his old car repossessed, and the sorrow he faced when his savings were depleted in a flash as he lost all his money investing in his business. We don’t get to see the tears, the sorrow, the disappointment, and the injuries an athlete endures as she trains to break records and make history.
Recently, a tremendous inspiration, fellow skater, and friend Erin Jackson made history and became the first African American woman to qualify for the Olympics in speed skating.
If you’d like to support an American rock star and give Erin Jackson some love, please head over to this page and buy one of her t-shirts! The proceeds go toward sending her father to Korea so he can watch her compete in the Olympic games!
Oh hey! That’s my friend ♥
This is from the Squiggy Skate Marathon! My #RideorDie teammate, skate buddy and all around bad ass partner in crime Cinn and I were SO STOKED to see Erin at the race!
The story we all read and heard was that Erin has only been on the ice for about four months. She continued to shave time off her 500 meter runs every time she hit the ice at the Team USA tryouts in early January. It seemed like things happened for her so quickly, and then in a flash of a moment, BOOM! She’s going to the Olympics!
What many of us didn’t get to see right away is that Erin (or “Baybee” as we call her in the roller derby community because she was the youngest person to skate with Jacksonville Roller Derby) has been working her tail off on skates for 15 years. Within 6 months of playing roller derby, she earned a spot on New Jax City Rollers (Jacksonville’s A-team). We didn’t see all the behind-the-scenes work.. That is unless we were there witnessing it for ourselves. I was at her first bout. She was exceptional, but she also made mistakes because she was still learning. With continued effort and lots of trial-and-error, she picked up quickly and has made a huge impression on the roller derby community around the world.
Let’s do ourselves a favor and realize that everyone in the spotlight has experienced many days of darkness. Oprah Winfrey’s first boss told her that she wouldn’t make it in television (she’s now a hugely successful media sensation and billionaire). Sara Blakely faced continual rejection as a fax machine sales representative as she invested seven years and thousands of her own dollars to build the Spanx brand (she also became a hugely successful billionaire). JK Rowling was on public assistance and was raising her children on her own when she wrote the first Harry Potter book, and even after it was written, she was told there’s no money in children’s books (she then became the first author to become a billionaire from book sales alone).
See the point I’m making here?
The struggle is part of the process. Our wins are made sweeter because we have faced bitter defeats. We appreciate the highs in life because we know what our bottom looks like. Many would attest that their strength and faith was built in times of struggle. We tend to lose sight of our blessings when things are going well, but oh boy how much can we appreciate the loose change in our couches and car seats when we’re broke and hungry?!
The things we see in the outer world create a disconnect in our minds when it doesn’t match our own experiences. We face a conundrum when we compare our lives to the lives of others. Are we happy? Do we have enough? What do we “need to do” to get what other people have? I highly recommend watching this interview featuring Simon Sinek discussing the effect of social media on our self perception.
We make it too difficult for ourselves. Our only job is to be our real, true, authentic selves. We don’t have to “fake it ’til we make it.” That’s bullshit. Stop trying to please everyone and avoid making other people feel uncomfortable. Just be real.
We all have struggles, and we all have flaws. Flaws are absolutely amazing. Flaws make us human, and our humanity connects us.
Let’s be reminded that we are presently working behind-the-scenes so that we can experience our very own moments of triumph. As we get there, we’re allowed to kick, scream, and cry our way through. We have permission to share our struggles as well as our victories.
Let’s dare to do things way outside of our comfort zone. We’ll falter. We’ll want to quit. We’ll get frustrated. But then, we’ll adapt. We’ll get better.
We will persevere and experience the ecstasy that comes with learning and growing. We build character and resilience along the way.
Battle on, dear one. And show off those scars. You’ve earned them 🙂
Seeing you thrive beyond your current challenges,
(P.S. Here. Have a jumping goat video ♥)