"Hold on. She said what?!" I screeched.
"Yeah, she said she would like your help because you really seem to have your shit together."
It took hearing it twice before I could actually believe it was true.
"So... you're telling ME.... someone thinks I have MY shit together?! HAHAHA! I WISH!"
I couldn't hold back my laughter at the absurdity of it. Here I was, 31 years old, still not exactly sure what the hell I was doing with my life, breaking down right and left, and someone thought I had it all figured out. ME! The woman who just took ibuprofen with a sip of red wine while waiting for the pizza guy to show up. How far from true it was. How far from true it still is. But that conversation did make me start to really think about the illusion of a perfect life.
I think we all kind of have a vision of what our perfect life would be. In my perfect life, I am exactly the right size, I'm exactly the right amount of body fat, I'm tan, I have perfect teeth, and my hair never does that woo-hoo thing. I look great while walking in heels and they never hurt my feet, my makeup looks flawless, I eat a clean diet and workout twice a day. I also "get in a run" a couple of times a week too. (You know, because "getting in a run" is one of those things I always hear healthy people say they do.) In this perfect life, I also get paid to do the thing I love, which is motivating and encouraging others to live their best lives. I go swimming in my giant pool while looking great in a swimsuit (duh) and in my kitchen there's a fancy assortment of breakfast pastries and fresh juice out. In this perfect life, I don't feel the need to compulsively eat said pastries though. But when I do eat the pastries, they don't make me fat. Oh, and when I dance? I look cool as hell instead of like a dorky white girl with two left feet. I never get emotional over things I can't control, I always look flawless and feel sexy. And dying? Nah, in this perfect life, I don't ever worry about dying. All my family members and friends are healthy and we all just get along. Oh, and no decisions or mistakes I make ever affect anyone I love or hurt anyone in any way. I want for nothing. I desire nothing but what I already have. I don't ever have anxiety attacks or deal with depression. I'm never a selfish jerk or in a bad mood. It's all good in my hood at all times. That is my perfect life.
The problem is, that life doesn't exist. Could I make some of those things I mentioned happen? Sure. And I am working on doing just that. For example, I'm working on how to make helping others experience more fun and happiness in their lives my full-time career. But when I actually type out what this perfect life looks like in my head, it feels so silly. Aren't we just setting ourselves up for disappointment? Is wishing for a perfect life actually ruining your REAL life? I know it sure has wasted a lot of my own time. I will never have a perfect life and neither will you. Life is beautiful, but it's also a real asshole sometimes. And life doesn't really seem to care that it's screwing us over way more than we think we deserve.
Maybe you sit and daydream about that perfect Pinterest life, or you follow someone on Instagram that DOES seem to have the perfect life that you envy. You know the profiles I'm talking about. Beautiful people with beautiful spouses, perfect children, a balanced career and home life, plenty of money, and companies sending them free shit all the time.
"I just want to say thanks to IndieDarlingsRUs for the great scarf that completes my perfectly put together look that I also got for free!"
"Sometimes I'm ugly just like you regular gals!" *posts pic with no makeup but perfectly clear skin*
"I never get tired of seeing my smoking hot spouse! We will never ever find anyone else attractive or desire anything but each other for as long as we both shall live!"
Okay, maybe that's not the captions they use, but I think you get my point. Some of us envy them and some of us loathe them. But no matter what your personal take is on that type of thing, I think the illusion of a perfect life is screwing us up. We beat ourselves up for not having it all figured out yet. The truth is, I'm never going to "figure it all out" and have my perfect life and neither are you. And spoiler alert: neither will the social media darlings, no matter how much free shit they get or how many followers they have.
So why do we waste precious time being envious of (or maybe hating) the people that appear to have perfect lives? Why do we buy into the lies of a few good filters and captions? Our time would be so much better spent if we stopped wishing for a perfect life and instead spent time trying to enjoy and improve the life we actually have. There's nothing wrong with striving for a better life if you are not satisfied with the one you currently have. In fact, I encourage it! But there's a difference between genuinely seeking to improve your life by taking action in productive ways and sitting around discontent because you don't have the perfect life THAT DOESN'T EVEN EXIST. The perfectionist mindset is keeping you from the life you truly want to be living. So maybe you'll never have the perfect kids that will smile while wearing 12 layers of stylish clothes like they are in Baby Gap ad. Maybe you'll never have the perfect marriage or the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend. Maybe that size two is about 75 pounds away. But so what? Obsessively wishing for things to be different rarely results in anything but more misery. Do you know what you could be doing instead? Going for a walk, reading a book that could actually help you start that business, spending time with your kid while they still kind of like you, or even laughing at that new Netflix show. You could be visiting a friend, or writing a blog post (hey hey) or finally getting that bullshit report done at work.
Wishing is often the enemy of doing. So next time you catch yourself wishing for this perfect life, make an effort to silence the wisher inside. How many times has your inner wisher been there for you anyway? You wished you were thinner, you wished your parents were different, you wished your job didn't suck, you wished you were younger, you wished you didn't date that guy, you wished you didn't make that mistake. But what did all that wishing REALLY do for you? If you're anything like me, it just made you feel more depressed. I've discovered that for me, wishing is rarely productive. It just keeps me in a mindset of defeat. It reminds me of my failures. I can't wish away my current situation. I can't wish away my mistakes. More than anything, all of this wishing takes away my power to do anything about my desires and regrets. It puts me in the victim mode. While I've known some people who seem to feel safer in victim mode, I have never felt that way. The idea that my plot in life is fixed and "that's just the way it is" will never be a belief system that I can accept.
So I am officially on a "stop wishin' mission." I've decided to start making myself give an answer for why a wish pops in my head. Asking ourselves why we are feeling a certain way may not immediately change the feeling, but it CAN help us become more self-aware. And self-awareness is where we learn some of the most valuable lessons about ourselves. Learning why I have this regret or desire is the key to discovering what appropriate actions will truly get me closer to where I want to be. So I no longer "wish" I had my shit together. I instead asked myself why I didn't, which led to me (finally) learning that I have an issue with self-discipline. Though it was a hard pill to swallow, this truth has led to me taking steps towards changing this fact.
Please don't use this post an excuse to beat yourself up even more. 99% of us already do WAY too much of that. And it's just another habitual behavior that rarely gives you any real return on your investment. And boy, do we ever invest a lot of time into self-hatred. Instead, I hope this post encourages you and reminds you that you're doing just fine.
Maybe this wasn't a good day.... or week... or month... or... well, you see where I'm going with this. It doesn't matter. The beauty of life is that all of us are still here living it. And that means we can try again (hopefully in a more productive way) once we stop wishing and start doing. Life doesn't have to be perfect to be phenomenal. You don't have to be the perfect parent to have incredible kids. You don't have to be the perfect partner to have a fulfilling relationship. You don't need to have the perfect body to feel sexy and confident. (I know, I know, but stick with me here.) All you need is the willingness to be your authentic self. You may be thinking "But Katee, I don't even know who the hell my 'authentic self' IS?!" That's okay too. We're all just figuring this out as we go along. I've learned more about myself by making mistakes than I ever have by trying to be perfect.
Perfect people can't be bad asses. Flawless perfection is NOT bad ass. Do you know what IS bad ass? A flawed person who hasn't let their mistakes define them. A bad ass is inherently flawed and inherently themselves anyway. A bad ass feels the fear, they hear their inner perfectionist, but they tell it to F*** off most of the time, because they know they still have plenty to offer their friends, family, and even the world. Bad asses don't wish, they do. And I don't know about you, but I'd rather be a bad ass.
Here are a few songs to get you started on your next bad ass move. A special Spotify playlist I created just for this blog post is below or you can click here to add it to your own Spotify library!