Reality Check: There’s No Perfect Life
Posted on January 16, 2012 in Fun by Sandra Bienkowski
In my twenties, I saw a psychologist for depression. A defining moment in our talk therapy came from a George Bernard Shaw quote he shared with me. “Nothing is as good as it appears, and it’s never better.” It took me awhile to fully grasp the quote and how it was impacting my life, but once I did, things improved dramatically.
Back then, I had a tendency to idealize people. Because of my wavering self-image, I’d look at other people and think, “They totally have their shit together. Why can’t I be like that?” I did it all day long and it slowly eroded my self-image. I kept sliding people up, as I slid down.
I did it in relationships with men. Oh, he has a Harley, a jet ski, he’s a runner and lives in an affluent neighborhood—he must be prince charming! The reality was … he wasn’t nice. The relationship was no fairy tale. I’d look at fit women admiringly and wish I didn’t nose dive into that pint of ice cream while watching shallow TV. Or, I’d meet a woman who was hurling herself toward her career goals while I was working as a waitress with a Bachelor’s degree. Why couldn’t I fearlessly pursue my goals? In my world, everyone was smarter, kinder, braver and more successful than me. Everyone else was a shampoo commercial, women effortlessly tossing their beautiful hair without a care in the world, while I was frazzled and riddled with mental stress, more like the old Calgon Take Me Away commercial.
But it was all in my head. My idealization was fiction. Nothing is as good as it appears, and it’s never better.
You can find examples of this everywhere. Take Kim Kardashian and her fairy tale wedding. Imagine how many young women watched her elaborate wedding planning and wished they could have the same? But it was just an illusion. A marriage that’s over in the same year in which it began is no fairy tale. Take Tiger Woods. I bet thousands of people wanted his golf skill, his endorsement deals, his life. But his life had cracks, and when those cracks tore open for everyone to see, he was undone.
Examples of false idealization don’t have to be that infamous or dramatic. You can find examples in your own life. People you know right now have more going on than you see. They have fears and insecurities. They have things they don’t want you to know. They are flawed and make mistakes. They have doubts and want certain parts of their lives to change. They have problems. They’re human … like you, and like me.
I’m not saying to celebrate other people’s flaws or downfalls to lift you up. I’m saying you shouldn’t torment yourself with how perfectly together everyone else is because you don’t have the whole story.
Take other people off the pedestal and pull them back down to Earth. Use the energy you spend inflating others on you instead …
• Make decisions that make you feel good about yourself.
• Discover the power in thinking about all of your positive traits and strengths.
• Stop comparing yourself to others.
• Understand life can be messy. No one’s life is a perfectly linear procession of progress.
• And if you get really brave, celebrate your flaws. You know, laugh at yourself once in a while.
When you shift your thoughts toward how amazing you are and away from how amazing everyone else is—your success in life starts multiplying because you believe and act upon your own self-worth. You will only want your life. In a liberating way, you will know everyone has days of flawed and fabulous. Everyone has specific weaknesses and strengths. You realize it’s a mistake to idealize people because it only hurts you …. and it’s not real.
The next time you find yourself idealizing someone else’s life, repeat after me: “Nothing is as good as it appears, and it’s never better.”