Embracing Imperfection

By: David Smyth, October 30, 2018

We all know those people on social media who look like they have perfect lives and families where everyone always smiles and no one ever feels any stress. The truth, of course, is that in reality, well, those folks probably don't look or feel so perfect. But even if we know that social media is one big mask disguising the craziness of daily life, seeing all those perfect, smiling images can make even the most confident among us feel a little inferior. 

And, we all do it - I know you've all seen my posts of taking my boys to UK football games, but what I put on social media is usually a little different than what it's really like to tailgate with three kids who don't particularly care for sports. Meltdowns, grumpy looks and sibling rivalries don't make the social media cut. In fact, after the last UK game, I told Gates and Ridley they'd have to beg me if they ever want to go to another one, due to their lack of enthusiasm, to put it nicely. 

But lately, I've been finding myself embracing the reality of day-to-day life. Despite what we see every day staring at us from our computer screens, it's okay to not be perfect. You parents out there know that simply cooking for a family is a labor of love and involves some sacrifices, or spaghetti on the floor. (Yes, this happened to me. Recently.) You also know that a simple trip to the pool in the summer involves a huge amount of work when kiddos are involved. The happy smiles are a small part of the day. 

What I'm trying to say is that everyone has a different life situation, and trying to compare lives and lifestyles based on social media is rarely a good idea. A family dealing with the chaos of raising kids isn't a fair comparison to that friend who has no kids, whether by choice or not. Would I rather be headed for a relaxing week at the beach when it's cold out instead of watching a youth orchestra concert? Of course. And seeing the photos of people on those coveted beach trips doesn't help. But it's all totally worth it when I see the smiles on my sons' faces as they learn and accomplish new things. 

That child-free person at the beach? You never know what's going on that person's life either. Maybe they wanted children and couldn't have them, or maybe that quick getaway is a respite from caring for a sick family member. 

The point is, you just can't know what someone else is going through. There are those big families who take lots of trips and don't struggle financially, and I also know plenty of child-free folks who don't bring in huge salaries and have to make sacrifices of their own to make sure bills are paid so there's a little money to put away for the future. Everyone faces their own set of stressors. It's just a different set of life choices and circumstances.

Many of the assumptions we make from social media are based on perceived economic status of the poster - we feel like we're missing out when we see that person who seems to take a trip every other week (maybe they have to travel for work and are simply trying to make the most of it), or we feel like failures when we see that family that shares evening meals with no (apparent) spills or meltdowns. Comparing lives when you don't know the whole picture only creates more stress. 

So, I encourage you to share the beautiful mess that often makes up this colorful life we're living. Sometimes the spaghetti ends up on the floor. Sometimes the 5-year-old has a meltdown over a drip from his ice cream cone. It's okay to share those moments too. Because at the end of the day, we're all doing the best we can, and hey - perfection is overrated anyway. 

What zany situations or hilarious outtakes has your family had lately? I really would love to hear about them, and I'll continue to share mine. (Some of them, anyway...). Let's let the masks fall. 

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