I’m chronically late to the party. In this case, I am about six months late.
I suck at that whole New Year’s resolution thing. It’s not that I don’t have resolutions. It’s that I have too many of them. And by the time I’ve gotten to July, not only have they flown out the window, but I don’t even remember what they were. So I have decided to make July 4 my New Year’s Day.
Today, I am declaring my independence from the crazy dictator who has been terrorizing the countryside of my thoughts for way too long. I am declaring my independence from Other People’s Perfect Lives.
I have wasted way too much time scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and feeling like a lazy slob as I peruse the neverending catalog of Other People’s Marathons.
I have wasted way too much energy wondering how Other People’s Gourmet Meals appear like manna on the table every night after a full day of work. Then I wonder how on earth those Other People have the presence of mind to photograph their meals artistically and plaster the internet with food-porn.
I have wasted way too many tears sobbing over photos of new mommies gazing lovingly into their firstborns’ eyes, as I remember how the first several months of my firstborn’s life were lost in the mire of postpartum depression, how I missed his infancy, and how I will never get it back.
And maybe, worst of all, I have wasted way too much thought on questions that would never have been possible before the advent of social media. Why is that Other Person I Admired In Real Life a raving egomaniac/scary political extremist/grammatically defunct narcissist/evil hose-beast online? What happened to human kindness/decency/command of the English language? Are we really saving that much time by abbreviating everything if we then have to explain to each other what the abbreviations mean? Are we becoming a society of chronic liars who insist that we are LOL-ing all the time? And why, why, WHY are so many people so obsessed with disturbing pictures of ugly cats?
Intellectually, of course, I know nobody’s life is perfect. But we do a damn good job of trying to convince each other, and maybe ourselves, otherwise. I know that nobody lives on a deserted island with a thousand kittens and a neverending supply of umbrella-drinks. I know nobody spends her entire life looking gorgeous while mountain-climbing. I know those flippin’ babies are up half the night, and I know, mamas, that you and I have been to the same dark places.
But it’s so easy to forget, in the neverending stream of awesomeness. It’s so easy for the introverted introspecting obsessive types to get washed away by the flood of cool.
I’ve been letting myself get carried away for far too long. So today, I am declaring my independence from Other People’s Perfect Lives. Yes, your kids are adorable and they are rocket-scientists. Yes, your pork chops glazed with free-range marmalade and organic angel tears are making me drool over here. Yes, you look like a supermodel even at 10 months pregnant even though you swear you are a whale even though at 10 months pregnant you are still skinnier than me. Yes, you can run for three days straight and feel AMAZING, and when the zombie apocalypse happens you will spring away to safety like an antelope while I have to grab an axe and hope to goodness that Macgyver did in fact provide accurate instructions for hotwiring a car.
And, in this often demoralizing world, you should get to sing the praises of your own stupendousness. You should love yourself with a fierce and abiding passion, and with a gentle and forgiving love. You should strut your stuff. I just need to remind myself that I’ve got stuff worth strutting, too. I need to step back from the misty photographs and the ALL CAPS and the self-congratulatory memes and remind myself that Other People are real people, and real people’s lives are a million miles from the grey havens of Perfect.
So today, I am declaring my independence. This is easy enough to do. The Declaration comes first. Then comes the war, with all its battles, its losses and triumphs. I’m not expecting it to be easy. It’s a process, like everything worthwhile, not a snapshot or a meme or something you can stick an umbrella in. But I can do this, because if there’s anything about me that’s worth bragging about, it’s my stubbornness.
What independence will you declare today?