I have a confession: I’m a divorced, single mother of two and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.
I recently had a conversation with my parents about the job market and the importance (or trap, depending on how you look at it) of credit. During this conversation, my parents disclosed that they were working to repair their credit after having filed bankruptcy and that there was a time that they considered divorcing each other. Imagine my surprise to realize my parents were trying to get their lives together the same way I was.
There are at least two and a half decades between my parents and me, yet here we were in the same place in life. For years I watched my parents buy homes and cars, and I assumed that they had it “together.” However, the older I get the more transparent they’ve been with me about the appearance of having it “together.” Why didn’t they tell me sooner?
I spent the first decade of adulthood struggling to have it all together, to be perfect. I obtained both my associate’s and bachelor’s degrees; I had an amazing career in the Air Force that allowed me to walk the halls of the Pentagon and literally rub shoulders with President Obama. Yes, ladies, he does smell like cocoa butter.
I was educated, I had a career, and I was unhappily married with two children in a beautiful four-bedroom home in the ’burbs. I was the epitome of the American dream, and I was miserable! I spent so much time working on “looking good on paper,” and in the long run those things didn’t matter.
The conversation I had with my parents led me to realize that I was putting way too much pressure on myself to have it together, get it together, or appear as if I was perfect. The past four years, I have struggled with depression, the frustration of my failed marriage, starting and eventually stopping my master’s degree program, advancing my career, trying to be the freaking Mary Poppins of motherhood, and navigating the horrible world of dating (because Tinder is some shit, am I right?).
And guess what, I have been failing tremendously. Who gets married knowing that it could possibly end in divorce? After finishing my bachelor’s program and getting adjusted to being a single mother, I was burned out, and my GPA suffered which caused me to drop out of my master’s program. I was extremely unhappy in my career and took a 20-thousand-dollar pay cut for a job closer to home. Some nights I’m so exhausted my kids eat microwaved chicken nuggets and easy mac (gasp). And let’s not even talk about the joke that is my current love life; God clearly has a sense of humor. And this is how I’ve been managing for a few years. I hid my pain with a smile because God forbid anyone realize that I’m human.
And so it goes for many of us who live our lives attempting to reach milestones of success by a certain age. We compare our lives to others, and if we miss a milestone, we feel off track. We admire the lives people live on social media and compare them to our own. We think to ourselves, “Wow, they have it together; why don’t I?”
But here’s a secret to it all: None of us has it all together. We live facades on social media because we aren’t brave enough to live our real lives publicly. We’ve become experts at omitting the truth, sometimes to our detriment.
As regular folks on budgets, we are comparing our lives to celebrities and becoming frustrated with our shortcomings. However, many of the people we look up to wouldn’t survive walking a day in our shoes.
Our favorite celebs and even the wealthiest of people don’t have it all together. They pay people to put it together for them. They pay stylists, chefs, trainers, accountants, and a host of other professionals to make them appear as if they have it together.
We only post our successes but rarely do we ever share our failures. We share photos of us smiling and hide our depression and fears. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not advocating oversharing personal information on social media. What I am proposing is that we all become brave enough to admit we are flawed.
We place unnecessary pressure on ourselves to be perfect at all times. We pass judgment on people for being human, and many times for being as imperfect as we are. It takes courage to admit the truth and there’s strength in vulnerability. What if we empowered one another to be our truest selves?
The fact is, none of us know what the hell we’re doing, and that’s OK.