The new year always rings in with the crackle of fireworks, the clinking of glasses, and the deepening dread you have to start your new diet tomorrow. People have been making (and breaking) new years resolutions since the ancient Babylonians, which is a long time for humanity to be obsessed with the need to change oneself.
Now I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with setting goals and wanting to grow, but when the desire for that growth comes from comparing yourself to others, then there’s something wrong. We can have people that we look up to and admire, but we need to remember that those people are also flawed humans, just like ourselves. No human on earth, past, present, or future, is worthy of being put on a pedestal in our lives. It doesn’t matter how perfect their pictures are, how good they are at stringing words together, or how good their life looks from the outside. Social media shows us everyone’s highlight reel, not the hundreds of selfies they didn’t post, the stain on their carpet, or how their boss yelled at them and made them cry in the bathroom for an hour. Our world is obsessed with aesthetically curated lives, and it tells us that perfection is inspiring. But the truth is that perfection is unrelatable, but brokenness is the basis of authentic connection.
At the end of last year, I finally read a book that my friend had been telling me to read for months. I had my hardcover copy sitting on my shelf staring at me for half a year, but I could never pick it up. Why? Because I didn’t feel like I could relate to the couple that wrote it. They were Instagram famous, had been on television shows, and their life just seemed too perfect. As I looked at the front cover, I thought to myself, “How could these perfect people possibly say anything that would relate to my very messy life?” My perception of this couple’s “perfection” hindered me from listening to and learning from their life experience. Eventually, I pushed past my perception of their life and read the book…and I’m so glad that I did! Past their posed pictures and aesthetically pleasing social media, this couple was just as real and messy as the rest of us, and they had words of wisdom to share. When we get hung up on how perfect someone’s life looks, we miss out on the life experience and encouragement that they have to offer us. And when all we show the world is our best moments, we are pushing away opportunities for deeper connections.
Now, this isn’t an open invitation to share your most heart-wrenching and painful moments for the whole world to see. Those parts of your story aren’t for everyone to know. But welcome a few friends or family members into those areas of your life. The people who care about you and walk alongside you want to know the real you, not the perfectly happy face you plaster on every morning. And when you’re looking at the snapshots that other people put out into the world, remember that they are real people just like you. While their lives might look unattainably put together, they still struggle with fear, loss, hurt, sadness, and brokenness, just like the rest of us. Don’t go wishing for someone else’s life because we aren’t equipped to handle the hardships that go hand in hand with the good in their life.
Be bold in who you are. Don’t feel like you have to change just to fit into what the world says is the right shape or lifestyle. Everyone is just as messy and raw as you are, which means that there are so many people waiting to connect in a deeper relationship with you. Go out there and live your life, friend, without comparison and constantly trying to be like everyone around you. Live wild, live free, and dance with joy!