I recently had a lifelong friend tell me something I can’t shake. You ever have one of those conversations that lingers for days and weeks after they happen? We’d had a few cocktails and all kinds of truths were coming out. The good, the bad and the ugly. I relished in all of it, the raw honesty. But she shocked me when she said, “You’re so damn perfect all the time. Your life looks fucking perfect” and “I think my mom wishes I was more like you and it hurts me. I really hate it. I’m a mess, but go around pretending I’m fine, and you…your life just looks perfect.”
In my head I screamed, “Say whaaaaat?!” On the outside, though, I froze. My eyes popped out of my head and my heart sank to the floor. Little does this person know, I’ve looked up to her my entire life, wishing I could be more like her. I used to dress like her in Middle School, dyed my hair like her in high school and tried to follow her lead in college. She was, and still is, one of my personal idols- but I never told her that to her face. I never shared that truth with her- until she shared this truth with me. You’re life looks so fucking perfect all the time. The fact that she was telling me this, while crying, was not only painful, it was like someone had pulled the rug out from under my feet.
Call me naive, but I did NOT see that coming. It’s like she took the words right out of my mouth. She stole my storyline! But how could she possibly feel this way? I thought I was the one who felt this way?! I gave her a hug, told her she was the perfect one and that I loved her. There was so much more I could have said, I just couldn’t find the words at the time.
The next day I shook it off, but then got to thinking: how many women go around feeling this way and not talking about it? How many of us walk around with our heads held high, acting like everything is perfectly fine, when it just isn’t? Why do we keep our struggles to ourselves only to spill the beans to a random taxi driver who we’ll never see again? Or when we’ve had one drink too many. Why are we so afraid of being vulnerable around the people that know and love us? Why do we (myself included) act “so fucking perfect all the time?”
To my dear sister/friend, please know this: I love you (SO much), and I’m sorry for using you an example here, but you inspired me. And now I’m calling bull shit on myself, and every other person who has an identity online that looks “perfect.” I’m whistleblowing the whole damn system because this is WRONG with a capitol W(TF).
There are many aspects of society that I could blame for mine and others’ “curated content” that you’ve seen, but I will only speak for myself- my actions and my truths.
Clearly, I haven’t been as “full disclosure” as I’ve prided myself to be the last two years since I started sharing my round-the-world journey with all of you. If a single person thinks my life is without flaws, then I have failed you (and myself) because that’s exactly the intent of sharing my journey in the first place- to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, as I travel around the world.
My truth, like so many of yours, is messy and full of flaws. My truth is a big cluster fuck of ugly, messy, beautiful experiences that have lead me to this exact point I’m at today.
My truth is this: I’m just coming out of what has been the hardest 5 months of my life. I lost a dear friend and Brother in April. He died…evaporating into thin air, never to come back to me, or his family again. Prior to this, I’d never had an up close and personal experience with Death and I wasn’t processing it very well. I then came home in May to see family, to mourn and get my head on straight. I was greeted with my Mother telling me the doctors found a lump in her breast. (Don’t worry, she’s fine now.)
A few days after that bad news I got more bad news, this time from back “home” in Africa. My then boyfriend (and fiancé) cheated on me. One minute we were engaged and in love headed towards starting a family, the next we were arranging a divorce before the wedding. Everything I owned was still there in his flat, while I was at home with enough clothes for a week, but that was the least of my worries. We ended it and the entire trajectory of my life shifted. A few weeks after that I lost another lifelong best friend, not to death but to something almost as painful.
From there, I went to Europe on a two week Viking Cruise through Scandinavia, and all you saw were beautiful countryside pictures- all smiles. Was I faking it? Maybe. But I was trying to put my best face forward. Surely you can understand. Was I trying to deceive anyone? No, maybe just myself. I went around saying “I’m fine! Totally great. Happy to be here, and good riddance to that guy! My Mom is going to live forever and life is great!”
I took the advice of “fake it ’till you make it” and made it my religion.
I was “faking it” to the nth degree. But my truth is FAR from perfect. It’s closer to an obstacle course (on fire) than to the perfect beaches I’ve posted so many pictures from.
The truth is that what you see online are my tangible efforts to be better. What you see is me trying. What I share with you are my successes- happy moments, hidden gems I’ve found around the world and nuggets of wisdom I’ve picked up. What you don’t see are the dark days before those happy moments. Why would I post a photo of myself crying into my wine glass amidst a Shit Storm of a bedroom as I attempt to unpack my travel bags? Why would I share pictures of the ceiling I couldn’t tear my eyes from when I sat in shock each time I got a piece of awful news the past five months?
We all have our issues- our stories- and boy do we do our best to cover them up, package ourselves nicely and tie a ribbon around a nearly bursting Pandora’s Box. I don’t want to carry around Pandora’s Box AND lead people to believe I’m some “perfect” individual. That’s just hypocritical, and I fear we are already living in a highly hypocritical world today. A world in which humans aren’t allowed to be what they are- HUMAN. I want to be the exception to that rule.
I’ve gone around with the belief that if I put positive energy out there, I’ll attract positive energy back. I didn’t want to perpetuate negativity for myself or others, so I suffered in silence for these past few months. I figured I’d spare everyone the ugly and share the WINS instead. But perhaps there’s another piece of the Life Puzzle to consider.
Perhaps in sharing your trials and tribulations, others can appreciate the whole picture more clearly along with you, and celebrate when the happy moments come. Perhaps telling the WHOLE TRUTH is the ONLY TRUTH, and anything else is just a white lie. All I know is this: Life wouldn’t be Life without struggle and triumph, and light wouldn’t exist without dark. So I can’t call myself “authentic” and only share the wins, without the losses. Somewhere between South East Asia, South Africa and California I forgot this, but I’ve been reminded now. So, to my dear friend who shall remain anonymous, thank you. Thank you for helping me see what I could not…or helping me to share what I could not let others see. Thank you for calling me out. The world needs more people like you- Truth Seekers. I appreciate you and everyone else who holds me accountable for this life. I am beyond blessed to have such strong people around me, all around the world, and I’ll never take that for granted.
As we go on our merry (or not-so-merry) ways around planet Earth, it’s my hope that we can all be a little more human. It’s my greatest wish to live in a world where there is enough time and space for everyone to not just live, but to live authentically. Otherwise, what’s the point?