You might sometimes feel like a horrible parent. Sometimes you might feel like a bad friend. There are days when your stress makes you irritable and this feeling affects the way you act towards family and friends. There are days when even making small talk with other parents at the school maybe seems like too much. You are not perfect. The pressures of life get to you on a regular basis.
Sometimes it’s just all too much.
I remember a few years ago, I was helping a friend through a hard time and they told me how they wished they were strong like me. How lucky I was. “You clearly have it all figured out.” They said.
This took me by surprise. I definitely didn’t have it figured out, not even close. In fact, I was dealing with crippling anxiety every day. Worrying about how to grow my business, help more people, and live a life that leaves a ‘legacy’ behind. The pressures of your life are heavy. You have family members to care for, friends to be there for, co-workers who depend on you, and the list goes on and on... You, like me when my friend said that, likely feel miles away from having it "all figured out".
In general, I believe that human beings put far too much focus on how other people are managing. We see the Instagram highlight reel of their lives and dwell on how together they seem to be; how happy and successful they are. Rarely do we stop to think about what’s going on behind the scenes. We look at how they appear to be coping and immediately turn that into a reflection of how much we are struggling or how behind the mark we are. When my friend praised me for my position during a time of struggle in my life, I realized with more clarity than ever before that the image of ourselves that we allow the world to see is powerful beyond measure. At no point did my friend stop to ask if I might be struggling with anything or if I had gone through tough times to get to where I was. They looked at the “me” I was allowing everyone see, accepted it at face value, and wondered how they, too, could get there. It's not their fault. we put these images out of ourselves being strong and confident, happy and in control. It's so easy to forget that perception is not reality.
Why do we do we do this? I have a few theories. First, I believe as an attempt to maintain a strong and healthy image for the people around us, and second, to help fight the daily battle with negativity and self esteem. We are in a world of marketing ourselves to anyone who might see. Maybe a potential employer checking your social medias, or a client looking to hire you, or a potential partner scoping out your socials for a first impression. It's important for us to present ourselves in ways that are appealing for both personal and professional gains. However, this doesn’t mean we need to be perfect or even perceived as perfect - a line that is so easily blurred. The problem becomes when you spend your days witnessing the best of everyone (including yourself) and creating this as your new standard for what is acceptable. I am not suggesting that you have to start showing the world every aspect of who you are, what you struggle with and shine light into every dark space as this can have toxicity in it's own way. I am also not encouraging you to hide the great highlights of your life away from the world. Rather, I think it means we can allow ourselves to feel human; experience sadness, anxiety, frustration and all other emotions, but not stay there.
If you don’t feel that you have things figured out, that’s okay. I have never had things figured out and in all honesty, I probably never will. That’s just life. Life continues to bring lessons, some harder to learn than others. Trying to figure it all out while simultaneously thinking everyone else already has is simply a distraction from the opportunities life presents you. Learn to stay curious about life. Every twist and turn we experience provides us with an opportunity to discover something new about life and about ourselves.
Finding out you are going to be a parent…
Leaving a job or career for something different…
setting new boundaries on a relationship that isn't feeling healthy anymore…
You can look back and think wow, I never have things figured out or you can change your perspective to wow! I have figured out so many things from these many struggles!
Time and time again we find ourselves in situations wishing they would change when in reality, we are in a situation giving us the OPPORTUNITY to find change.
Read that again! It is up to you to look for change in every situation. Change helps us grow and growth is a necessary, albeit often difficult, part of life for everyone.
Every difficult situation you have ever gone through has presented you with choices that helped shape who you have become. Outside circumstances and influences might be beyond our control, but we always have the power of choice. We can choose to sacrifice, adjust, and persevere. When faced with a struggle, look deep into your character and make a choice that feels best. You are stronger today because of every decision you have made, despite not having it all figured out.
Today, you still don’t have it all figured out. Maybe you question past decisions and feel lost from time to time. However, when you are lost, I believe you are at a place of opportunity. Take that time to reflect and make the choices that reflect who you are at your roots. Never feel like you are behind the pack or failing to reach your potential. Position yourself daily in order to be the best you can be TODAY. Focus on what you control in your life and take action. Embrace struggle as a time for growth and understand your process is unique and imperfect while knowing that is okay and dare I say, necessary!
Nobody’s life is as perfect as their Instagram profile seems. We are all struggling behind the scenes to 'figure it out'. Life is not about having things figured out or solving the problems. It is the journey of discovery through our situations, whether challenging or manageable, continually that shape us.
If this resonated, I'd love to hear from you!
Written by: Kyle Craik