My husband told me something one day that completely changed my perspective. I was going through a challenging time, and I told him I felt like no one was supporting me. He told me that since I am normally so strong, and work so hard on making it look like I have it all under control, that he forgets that sometimes I don't actually have it all under control. That I'm actually having a really hard time, and I'm just not showing it. The implication was clear--for me to get the support I need, I have to be honest about the fact that I need support.
I'm not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line life became about appearances and competition. It didn't matter what was going on inside your heart or mind, as long as you kept your shit together on the outside. And your shit needed look better than the other person's, or you were failing at something. Social media has only added to this view, causing us all to see the shiny part of everyone else's life and compare it unfairly to the reality of our own life. It makes us think that there's something wrong with us, that we aren't living up to some expectation and we are somehow less than. If we aren't handling everything perfectly, we are failing.
But I have a secret for you. You don't have to be perfect. It's a false assumption we apply to ourselves. It's not real. You don't have to live up to anything. You can actually just take a deep breath and relax. Or fall apart. It's okay.
It's okay to be sad.
It's okay to cry. Cry because you're mad. Because you're sad. Because you're tired. Or just because.
It's okay to eat ice cream for dinner. And feed your children cereal for dinner.
It's okay to leave toys all over the floor. Or feel like you need to pick them up to be able to think clearly.
It's okay to know you should give your kids limits on tech, or make them do chores, but you don't do it because you seriously cannot handle arguing with them about it.
It's okay to need insane amounts of coffee just to get through your day.
It's okay to feel insane. It's okay to take care of yourself so you don't feel insane.
It's okay to go to bed early, to wear your pajamas and watch Netflix all day, to decide you just can't adult today.
It's okay to chase your own dreams and follow your heart.
It's okay to give up, and then dust yourself off and try again. Or not.
It's okay to need help. It's okay to raise your hand and admit that you don't always handle things well. It's okay for the world, or just your tribe, to see you not handling things well.
It's okay to royally screw up. It's okay to fall on your face. Or to brag because you completely rocked today.
I have a friend who sent me a text, telling me that she was totally depressed and didn't even recognize herself. Another friend of mine has gone down the rabbit hole of anxiety, and she and I have had long conversations over private messaging about how crazy it makes her feel. I can tell her about my own struggles, and I know that she gets it. My best friend went through a painful divorce, and was brave enough to be honest about how scared and sad and angry she was. She told us she needed our help, prayers, and hugs. And so we were able to take care of her. Because she let us know she needed it.
It's a lesson I'm still trying to learn.