Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I'm In Love With My Own Shortcomings Today...

...which may seem unreasonable, but hear me out. Fair warning, this post may make no sense, or it may be something you've already read a million times from other people. Deal. With. It.

I woke up sick this morning. Not death-bed, barely-able-to-move sick, but sick nonetheless. And for a minute, I contemplated shooting an email to my supervisor explaining that I would not go in to work today. But then I realized it's okay to be a little less for a day. So I showered, put on ZERO makeup (the first time in the year I have worked here), got some tea at Starbucks, and went in.

I'm not saying this to brag, or lecture, or pat myself on the back. I'm saying this because I'm 25 and I whine. A LOT. I complain about things that I think are abnormal about my life. I see the highlights my friends present to the world via Facebook and Instagram, and I think, wow, I suck at life. I'm at the very bottom of a giant pile of debt from the stupid decisions I made in my teens and early 20s, and I don't make "much" money, and I spend way too much, and I suck at relationships, and I don't work out enough to combat the 20 pounds I've gained in the last year, and I suck at being a friend sometimes, and I can't check my stupid ego, and I have split ends but can't get a haircut because I spent that money on pretentious drinks Saturday night. Oh, but I fake it with the best of them on Facebook.

By my own invented measures of success, I am failing. And not even with style, because I can't afford to go shopping. But I gloss it up and show it off like it's perfect.

And then, in the midst of my whining and my faking, I think about all the billions of people who have it worse than I do. And that makes me feel like a spoiled brat, but it also makes me feel resentful at people who throw that out as an excuse, like it somehow negates any feelings I have. It's kind of how kids feel when they won't eat their cauliflower and their parents say, "there are starving children in Africa!" SO WHAT? How does that change the fact that I don't want this? How does that make my problem less than real? Okay, so that's a little extreme, but still. Just because it's not "as bad" as something else, doesn't mean it doesn't suck. And having someone point out that you're being selfish and myopic just makes you feel worse than you already do, especially if you are the one pointing it out to you. But we don't let it show.

Just stop. Stop excusing your feelings. Feel them. Allow them a space to be validated.

If you see your friend going to Europe and you're jealous because he can afford it, and you're climbing Debt Mountain with one hand tied behind your back and your Sherpa left you, be jealous. Admit that you feel like he's no better or smarter or more deserving than you are, and that you kind of hate that. It's okay. Then love him, because he may be hating his job and needed to escape. Or maybe, he put the whole trip on a credit card that is $20 from maxed out. Perception.

If you are nowhere near ready to get married and have kids (or you are, or you never want to), but you see wedding pictures or baby pictures on your friends' pages and you get all, "no one will ever love me," feel it. Admit that you might like a partner, or just a day that's all about you, or the attention that comes with a baby. Or, admit that you hate that people get attention for procreating and adding to the overpopulation problem, and you get no props for the fact that you just paid off your credit card or won trivia at your local bar, or ran a mile without stopping for the first time ever. Accomplishments are not measured by how someone else values them - your own pride is worth much more.

Don't be afraid to be real, either. We use the internet to be "more connected," but really, we're just able to filter and edit our lives. I can Facestalk you for an hour and not really know what's going on with you, because you left the "real" stuff on the cutting room floor. I do it, too. I love me some Instagram, but how many of my photos are carefully selected, filtered, and captioned just right? The fact that #nofilter exists as a novelty, as a notion against the norm, shows just what we're doing. So take off the filter.

I'm not saying post a Facebook status saying, "I'm in $20,000 of debt, my car is a piece of junk, and I barely make ends meet because I can't control myself when it comes to spending, alcohol, food, going to the gym, or using other people to fill emotional voids in myself." That kind of transparency isn't for everyone, doesn't really help, and doesn't necessarily mean much. I'm just saying be honest with yourself. Give yourself a break. Be brave enough to admit a need for help. Have the courage to refuse plans because you want to sit on your sofa and cry into your ice cream. Admit that no one can "have it all," because it's impossible, and that no matter how pretty someone else's story looks, everyone has a void. EVERYONE.

Then go do what makes you love and overcome your shortcomings. Even if the process takes a few years or a lifetime. Even if you want your goals to happen RIGHT NOW and they're happening BEFORE I'M 30, 50, 100. Even if you have to part with things and thoughts that you've held on to for far too long. You're here, you're alive, and you have choices. Even in the darkness, there's always a way, a light, a hand, something. And it may be your own helping hand, or it could be someone or something else. But pacing yourself against someone else's measuring stick or time clock is just a prescription for discontent and self-loathing.

I'm not saying I found the secret, the magic bullet, the balm of Gilead. I'm saying that I'm making this effort, and I think it's working. For me. My grandfather always said, "you can get happy the same way you got sad." While I know that is patently false in some cases (depression, etc.), it holds a certain value to me when it comes to the idea of choice. I can choose my perspective, my priorities, and who I listen to. I can choose my takeaway from a given situation. So today, I'm choosing to love this crazy, messed-up, not-picture-perfect life, because there's beauty in the pattern, even if I can't see it today.