I read a great article once (that I wish I could remember who wrote) about how a harried mom at the mall was trying to get her kids to calm down and eat at the food court. As she sat down with her kids, she noticed another mom (who happened to be put together) at a nearby table feeding her (immaculately dressed) child an avocado she had brought with her.
The harried mom felt angry, because she felt like the other mom was doing those things “at her.” She felt like the other mom was judging her for not having it all together.
Of course, she wasn’t. She was simply living the way she felt inclined to. Her priorities were different than the scattered mom, and there was nothing wrong with that. (But I will go out on a limb here and also add that scattered mom perceived that judgment because she wasn’t living in line with her own values.)
When we see others who appear to have it together, whether or not they do or not, it’s easy to feel like they are doing those things at us.
This week, I set somebody off on Facebook. It wasn’t anything offensive I’d said or done, but clearly, this gal had felt I had been doing things at her for a long time.
Let’s get something straight. My life is not perfect. Not even close. My book got a bad review on Amazon because someone is jealous of my best friend’s success. (If you’d like to leave a review to help balance it out, you’d make my life a little better today.) Hell, my living situation fell through a few short weeks ago in a massive and disastrous way. I had to completely change course, and I had to do it fast. I have been exhausted lately.
And I’m figuring it out. I’m moving forward because why wouldn’t you? I found a new place (with a yard and garage even), business has never been better (looking at my first six-figure year), and I’m in a great relationship (with an incredible man willing and able to get us out of the woods alive). I have a lot to be very grateful for.
And I am. I am constantly talking about the things I’m grateful for. Stamp me with #blessed because holy cow, I have been this year. For me, social media is where I engage with people about the good and the bad, and while I do my best to focus on the positive, I try not to ignore the sadness and struggle either. I try to share the imperfect.
But to someone insecure and unhappy with where they are at, seeing something like that leaves a bad taste in their mouth. That person is left with the anger the scattered mom from earlier felt, a frustration that shouts things like:
Don’t you know people are struggling? Don’t you know not everyone has it so good?
And we can’t forget that most dangerous of phrases we like to hurl at people who are changing and leaving the tidy little boxes we’ve made for them:
Who do you think you are?
It’s easy to pass blame like that. Because if you feel like you’re stagnating while others seem to be moving forward, of course it feels like they are doing it at you. It feels madly unfair. But that’s not something they did to you, and that requires you take responsibility for your own shit.
So yes. Yes, I understand people are struggling.
I also know it’s easy to forget we are where we are because of what we have decide to make a priority.
Now, there are circumstances that are out of our control. Things happen to us that we can’t expect. We end up situations we’d never tolerate outright but have grown accustomed to because it happened so slowly. Trust me. I get it.
I understand how hard it is to take action in that space. I honestly believe the only way out of it is slowly, taking tiny steps towards what we want. The past year, so much of my time has been devoted to learning how to do that and figuring out what I’m capable of when I’m not under huge amounts of stress and pressure to be something I’m not.
I feel sorry for the girl who left the unkind message on my wall, because I understand what it is like to struggle.
And I will not pretend my life isn’t wonderful. Especially not to make someone else feel more comfortable with a life they are unhappy with.
I can’t count the number of times I have been left in awe this year over just how good things have gotten. And the reason it has gotten this good? Because I’ve chosen that. I have consistently chosen to take action that has gotten me closer to the type of person I want to be, and by pursuing that, I have slowly started to become that person.
And I like her.
Not everyone else will, and that’s okay. Haters gonna hate.
In the meantime, I’ll be over here all like…