My perfect life
There, I said it. Out loud. On the internet. I mean the whole world could see that I’ve outed myself!
I have wobbles and dimples. I get tired. I don’t have all the answers. I sometimes spend Saturday nights in my onesie in front of the TV eating popcorn. I still have days when I feel insecure and vulnerable. I procrastinate over almost every email wanting it to be perfect. I have skeletons in my closest. I have stories of death, betrayal and heartbreak. I’m human.
I’m not alone
This past month I have been struck by just how many clients and friends are all struggling with the same issue. That life isn’t as it should be. They’re single at a certain age. They’re living at home with parents passed an “acceptable” age. They’re not as senior as they should to be. They don’t have the salary that they should. They’re not as thin as they should be. Life isn’t perfect as it should be.
So many of these wonderful women I have spoken to are pursuing an image of a perfect life. They’re comparing themselves to imaginary “people” who have all done better, become more, done it faster, harder, better than they have. And they’re exhausted, terrified and frustrated with themselves because they fear life will pass them by and they won’t have the kind of successful life that society says they should.
Somehow we’ve all got caught up chasing material wealth and assets to show that we are successful. We feel we need to hit certain milestones at certain ages. We have to work harder and push ourselves further. Sleep less, play more. Post things on Facebook to show we’re living an amazing life. The way that we see celebrity lifestyles displayed in media used to be overwhelming enough. But with the rise of social media now suddenly everyone’s life is available for scrutiny. And if it’s not perfect, if it doesn’t match everyone elses, or better theres, then somehow you’ve failed.
When I was younger I expected to be earning £100k, have a husband and a house by 25. I thought that’s what you did. Imagine my shock when I reached that age to find myself in debt, with my first job earning not even close to the £100K I expected. Our young people are living university with high end degrees and limited prospects. It’s unsurprising that quarter life crises are becoming common. But the curious thing, at least for me, is that so many smart, well educated and successful 30+ women feel the same.
“You need to live YOUR life, and your version of it”
I ask my clients and friends alike the same questions when discussions like this come up:
1. Who are you comparing yourself to?
2. How does that matter?
3. Who would you be without this belief?
4. What would life look like for you if you were to redefine what a successful and “perfect” life looked like?
The answers vary between people and circumstances, but what I’ve found to be common is when asked to redefine what their successful life would look like without fail they all said they’d have more time for themselves, for family and for experiences. They wanted more time with people they loved. They wanted to do work they loved that made them feel they were contributing to society and doing something worthwhile. They wanted a healthy lifestyle. They wanted to laugh more, sleep more and travel more. They wanted to LIVE rather than survive.
We need to change our yardstick
This invisible yardstick that we use to measure ourselves, our lives, our successes and losses, we need to change it. We need to understand that life is a journey and each person’s journey and experiences are different. But the universal truth that binds us all is that when we take our last breaths in the world, we’ll be looking back on the moments with loved ones that enriched our lives. The experiences that helped us grow. The laughter and love we have known. The difference we made to the world.
With that knowledge live for that now. Grasp every opportunity to grow and explore. Cherish every moment with loved ones. Forgive yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Let go of needing to pass or achieve things you should and listen to your heart and soul and follow the paths that are meant for you.
And know this. No-one is perfect. No one has a perfect life. But they have the perfect life for them.
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