“How are you?”
“Fine thanks, and you?”
I can't imagine how many times this conversation occurs each day all across the country. Conversations like this are commonplace in America. Really, more than an inquiry into your state of being, it's rather a form of greeting. I know when the cashier at the supermarket asks, “how are you?” she really means “Hi”. It's doubtful that she actually wants to know the details of my personal life.
After a particularly bad day when someone close to you asks, “how are you?” what is your response?
It's understandable when a stranger asks “how are you” that you would not go into great detail about the disagreement you had with your sister earlier in the day. It's another story when someone who loves you asks.
Not only do we say things are fine when they aren't, we also assume that unless someone is complaining or open about what is not fine, then everything is good. I think this happens on social media all the time. It's easy to think that what you see people post on social media is everyday life when it's only the best of the best.
Conversations with my friends reveal that I'm not the only person who struggles with the illusion social media creates.
“Everything is fine.”
“Life is perfect.”
“My spouse is my best friend”
“We win every game.”
“Beach time. Again.”
Let's face it, the flipside would be equally annoying.
“What a rotten day.”
“Nothing is going right”
“I can't stand my spouse.”
“I'm such a loser.”
“Here I am in my cubicle at work again for the 15th day in a row.”
“I woke up to a messy kitchen for the 9,125th time.”
So, where's the balance between “everything is okay” and “nothing is going right” in our lives?
I have one Facebook acquaintance who literally posts exactly what she is going through, good, bad or ugly. If her kids hate her and won't' speak to her, she failed an exam, she's switching jobs AGAIN, she won an award; no matter what is going on. She shares it. I admit, sometimes when I read her posts I shudder at the reality. Still, I pray for her because I know what is truly going on in her life.
She's not pretending things are always ok because sometimes things are not ok.
I'm not suggesting that we all start airing our dirty laundry on social media because there's enough dirty laundry being shared with this election! What I am suggesting is:
- don't let social media (or even texting) be the only way we relate to other people
- be sincere about what is really going on in our lives with people who are close to us.
- understand that life is hard, life is not fair, and things will never be perfect
- don't make assumptions about others; just because everything looks ok doesn't mean everything is!
After all, even I have said, put a smile on your face, even when you don't feel like it. Talk yourself into being happy. Society tells us that it's not ok to NOT be ok.
Fake it till you make it.
Put on a happy face.
Positive affirmations. (I've always felt like this was self-inflicted-brainwashing, and prefer affirming what God says about me instead)
It's easier to pretend things are ok even though they're not, right?
Isn't that why we pretend? I've spent some time thinking about this. WHY do we pretend things are ok when they are not? Is it because we would have to own up to WHY things are not ok? Is it because then we would have to fix some of those things? Maybe because not pretending means facing the reality that sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes we fail even though we want to succeed and try so hard but miss the mark.
Sometimes our problems are just so big that we can't deal with the pain and confusion they cause, so we just keep pretending.
I know it can be hard but, how about just being honest, real, open and maybe even vulnerable?
Maybe it would be better to stop pretending things are okay when they're clearly not. Pretending you are ok when you are not is lying to yourself. Until you are truthful with yourself it will be more difficult to work on the issues that are causing you pain.
Not pretending things are ok can be scary. When you stop pretending about things like an on-going illness, anxiety, depression, marital issues, parenting issues you find a lot about your relationships. Some people may want you to keep pretending things are ok. If that happens, find someone else to talk to.
Maybe the reason that so many of us pretend things are ok when they're not is because we look around and think everyone else is succeeding and doing things so perfectly. We see other parents and think they don't ever yell at their kids. We see other couples and think, they don't fight, they're madly in love. We see other moms and think they always have it together while we can't even get out the door!
Trust me, no one is perfect all the time, no one has it together every day. Some of us have a hard time admitting our faults and failures but if we learned to stop pretending, maybe things would get better faster? With that said, let me practice what I preach.
I had the idea for this blog post back in September along with my other 31 Habits. It's the ONLY one I didn't write one single word of before it's posting date. I put it off while I thought about why we keep pretending. Yesterday (the 24th) I knew I needed to get this done, but I was feeling pretty miserable because knew I'd been pretending things were ok even though they were not and I still didn't know the answers.
There are many areas where I struggle. I can help those around me but sometimes I am not too good at helping myself. I don't always speak nicely to my children, my marriage is not what it should be, I can't keep up with all the irons I have in the fire, I can't do all my jobs well all at the same time. I don't know how things are going to turn out and sometimes I get tired of pretending.
Can you relate? Do you ever just get so tired of pretending? If you can and you do, I'd like to encourage you to stop pretending. You may not have one person on earth who you can open up to, but there is someone who will listen. I admit sometimes I forget that He knows that I'm pretending. He knows when you are pretending too. We can take all our cares to him, we can admit our mistakes and our shortcomings. We can admit defeat and failure and disappointment and anger because He already knows. So stop pretending.
And We Know That For Those Who Love God All Things Work Together For Good, For Those Who Are Called According To His Purpose. – Romans 8:28
If you are a woman suffering from a chronic illness you can find comfort from others who understand in our group Hopelively.