Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Getting Real

The Scene:
March 2004.
ADPi study room.
Super late night.
Feverishly working on a PR Design project.

I'm startled as my best friend breaks my concentration,
"Hey Ang, you've got to come check out this new website."

I walk over.
Sit down beside her.
And am instantly drawn in.
Like nothing I'd ever seen.
So forthcoming.
So revealing.

I didn't quite get it.
Yet was so intrigued.

And just like that.
I became a Facebook believer.
*And for those of you young-uns out there, this was before you could post pictures and you had to have a college .edu e-mail address to even join. 

Two years later, I found another way to suck the life out of my time.
I became addicted to the blogging world.
Just another outlet where others could over-divulge information.
And I loved every ounce of it.

Then, just in time for me to begin my teaching journey, Pinterest came along.
A perfect place for someone who lacks original creativity.
Like my very own personal lesson planner.
*I can remember the days when looking for lesson ideas and only 2 or 3 (and many times zero) results came up when I searched. *

I mean.
What did we ever do without social media?

The thought makes me shudder.

Social media also has a dark side.
I really should just speak for myself.

Although quite entertaining and often useful, today's addiction to blogging, Instagram, and Pinterest can be somewhat destructive...if I personally am not careful.

I sometimes find myself going down a not-so-uplifting path.
As I am bombarded with pictures and blogs posts of "perfection".

Bodies that look like they've been hand-sculpted.
Homes that look like Martha herself came in and designed every room.
Meals made from scratch with ingredients I can't pronounce...every night of the week
Family photos with babies who never cry and hit every milestone 6 months early.
Vacations in private villas nicer than my own house.

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to accept my after-baby body.
And we thank our lucky stars if only one thing falls apart or needs fixed in our house on a given week.
A California Pizza Kitchen pizza on sale at Wal-Mart is pretty much gourmet at this point in our lives.
I'm pretty sure there's an instant fuss-and-crank button for the moment I pick Lyla up after work.
And our idea of a luxury vacation is making it through a full episode of Mad Men and going to sleep by 9 p.m. on a Friday.

How would the social interwebs feel about that painted picture of perfection?

But isn't real is so much more entertaining and relatable?
Real is what I really want to see.
I want to see the 6 mounds of laundry and the fact that you've been living out of your laundry basket for 2 weeks.
I want to see pics of frozen peas and oatmeal for dinner. 
I want to see your tantrum-throwing toddler screaming in the isles of Target.

Two recent conversations stick out in my mind as much-needed encouragement, and they really put things into perspective for me.

I want to remember these conversations.

1). When my best friend from Rhode Island came for a visit over spring break, we discussed a lot about being perfect. I mentioned that sometimes it seems like everyone but me seems to have it together. And she replied by reminding me that people only share the good and amazing. No one really sees the ugly. Or the reality. All we really see via social media outlets are the Pinterest-perfect nurseries, the spent-my-entire-paycheck-but-at-least-it's-designer outfits, and the ridiculously expensive so-perfect-it-could-be-in-a-magazine weddings. And, is it just me, or do you know those people who you swear create a scenario simply to post and prove to others just how "perfect" their lives are?

Well. I'm really not interested in that.
I want real.

2). Last week, I had a phone conversation with another b.f.f. in Atlanta. We were also talking about the everyday stresses of life and the all-too-common painted picture of perfection. She said she saw an interview of a very successful career woman and mom. A woman, who like many of us, struggled with the pressure to be perfect. Until one day, this woman had an epiphany. She stopped striving to be Pinterest-Perfect and instead focused on being real. No more color-coordinated over-the-top birthday parties for her kids. Just a cupcake with a candle...and a whole lot of love. No more working til the wee hours of the night to add just the right touches to a project...when that project was presentation-ready hours before. It wasn't until this woman let go and just enjoyed reality that she could truly see how perfect her life really was.

Now, don't get me wrong.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with obsessing over details.
Or putting blood, sweat, and tears into DIY projects.
Or spending way too much money on fashion-forward outfits for your newborn.
Or spending your entire summer searching for the perfect decor for your kid's only first birthday. *Ahem*.

We put enough pressure on ourselves.
And then add in life, careers, and children?

So, the added pressure of social media bombarding us with seemingly perfect everything can be a bit overwhelming. 

Because you know something?
My life is nowhere near perfect. 
In fact, if you secretly took a still-frame at any given moment in my day, I'm sure you would find me disheveled, running around like a lunatic, and looking like I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing.
You'd see me in a 10 year old t-shirt with mismatched socks. 
You'd see unfinished house projects and half-painted wall trim. 
You'd see a pile of dust at least 6 months old on top of the refrigerator and food splatters in the microwave.

But you'd also see that I'm happy. 
Like, real-happy.
Not perfect-happy. 

You'd also see that my heart is close to bursting into 5 million pieces.
Because despite the fact that my sink is overflowing with bottles and my bed hasn't been made in over a month, I've got a little Chunkin who's clapping for herself because she is finally rolling over. 
*Four months later than other babies.*
And you'd see that I'm clapping with her. 
And I'm smiling so hard, it hurts. 
Because I'm proud too. 

So, here's to being real.
Here's to the new perfect.

P.S. Hop on over to Bloglovin.
I mean, why not add one more social media outlet to your list. ;)

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Lauren said...

i love you. i LOVED our phone conversation last week. i love this post.

did I mention I am SO ready to see you in a few short weeks. we need those phone chats more often- even if that means the house project we were supposed to do is side-lined for an overdue chat and we just buy the darn cupcakes at the store :)

PinkSass said...

So well put, so very well put. That's why I stoping blogging all together.


Chels said...

Love this message, Ang! I definitely go down that path of comparison all too often, fueled largely by social media. Thanks for keeping it real!

Tickled Pink Mandy said...

ss Girl, I couldn't agree more with this post. Blogging and Insagram can make me feel like I'm the only one having a hot mess of a day/week/life. Thanks for always keeping it real!! xxoo

Carolyn said...

I love this post SO SO SO SO SO SO MUCH. It's so true. And I try to tell myself this all the time!

Krista said...

You couldn't have said it better. Great post! I did a blog post on this very subject a few months back and feel the exact same pressure. You just keep doing what you're doing mama, because you're amazing. That sweet baby girl of yours doesn't give a damn about what she wears, or if her birthday cake will be homemade or store bought. All these babes need is a whole lot of love!

smithec said...

your post reminded me of this hilarious (i think) article i read a few months ago that was super encouraging to me as a new mom trying to find a balance between it all. please pardon some of the french, hope it makes you chuckle as it reminds you that you are very much not alone on your quest to be real and for that to be enough. :)


Shoshanah said...

This is such an awesome and true post. I remember reading somewhere about how the person you posts the awesome crafts, probably can't or doesn't spend time cooking. Or the person who always posts amazing recipes, has a house that always looks like it's falling apart. And so on. It's just the fact the only see the crafts, and cooking, and house and want it all. And in most cases, one person can't pull it all of.

And yes, I definitely remember those days of facebook. I remember feeling like our college was the last ever to get it, and so jealous of my friends who were already on it. And then the day we all got the e-mail saying we were officially added, I probably spent all night online!

Vanessa said...

real happy vs. perfect happy…you nailed it! LOVE this post!