Do you guys ever experience this? You’re going about your own business and then someone plays a voicemail you’ve left them and all of a sudden you’re wondering if THAT is really what you sound like? Or you catch what you look like on a zoom call or FaceTime and wonder why no one told you your eye makeup was smudged and your hair is a hot mess?
We tend to be our biggest fans and our worst critics. We have this image of how we come across, how others see us, and how we impact others. Only to see a picture or hear a voicemail and then all bets are off. We spiral into a freefall thinking about how horrible we look, how much weight we’ve put on, and where the hell did all those gray hairs come from?
We tend to look at ourselves through a kaleidoscope that’s tinted with our own perspective. But you know what? That’s just as twisted as all the colors we used to see when we looked through those things. Because we shouldn’t be as concerned as we are with how we see ourselves (although I firmly believe we all need to fall in love with our own fine selves), as much as we should be concerned with how others see us. Just be kind. To everyone.
Now – let’s be straight here – I still struggle with what others think of me, but I’ve come a long way compared to how I used to be. I watched a TED talk recently where the lady was saying how we think we need “permission, community and curiosity” to have confidence. She slayed me. Really. Cause you know what? So often I’ve looked to others to raise my confidence when I don’t actually need it from them. I can have confidence in my God-given abilities, in my experience and in the opportunity I have been given to share them. If we give ourselves permission to defy expectations and surround ourselves with a community of supporters, who knows where our curiosity will take us?
So walk about in the confidence you’ve just given yourself to have and focus on others – that picture you’re wanting to see will paint itself.
It started with Halloween. I didn’t actually realize it at the time, but that is totally where it began. It’s probably my least favorite holiday to start with – mostly because I pretty much hate horror. And being scared (and for some reason, people just LOVE scaring me). Anyway, Halloween brings massive amounts of candy, decorations, costumes and the inevitable slew of fall family photo session posts. Whether just cute kids in costumes or happy family shots of smiling parents and darling children surrounded by falling autumn leaves, they’re there. Everywhere. All over social media. Showcasing how happy and together everyone’s life is.
Stick with me here. This is not a plea for attention nor a blast on those who post these photos. I personally know of a lot of people who have prayed for years for a spouse and/or children, and these pictures are a testament to their faith and joy. No issues here, people.
What I would like to bring awareness to are the ones who are hanging in there on their own, whether firmly intact or hanging by a thread. Holidays suck for single people sometimes. They just do. And you don’t even have to be one of those singles who is hardcore looking for a significant other, seriously. I personally go back and forth. Last weekend? I was totally annoyed at life, my single status and the fact that every third post on Facebook showed a happy, smiling family unit. It seemed like they were mocking me. Every single one. And the way it made me feel? And my reaction to it? Let’s just say it’s wasn’t pretty.
What manifested from that is something I am not particularly proud of. Issues in my work life crept into my personal life and I felt like a complete failure who was going to be alone for the rest of her life. (Crazy, right? But we’ve all been there a time or two.) Then I had to attend a bridal shower, where at one point, one of the ladies made all of us “single ladies in the back” stand up so everyone could see us and have our picture taken. The words in my head at that moment people! (Although let me point out here that I love this particular bride and, through the haze of my blah, I was completely happy for her) In light of all this, last Sunday ended up being a pretty rough day for me and I was pretty bitchy. A funny, snarky bitch, but one nonetheless. Thankfully, my friends put up with me and laughed me through it. Later that night, I had a long talk with one of my best friends and realized my fear and discontent was at the heart of it. We worked through some of those issues and I felt a lot better.
I knew I was gonna regret it, but I told her I was thinking of taking a break from Facebook. I’d realized I was on it more often than usual and that it wasn’t good for my mental health at the moment. Being the great friend that she is, she offered to do the same. So, for the past week I stayed off of Facebook.
I’d like to tell you I didn’t miss it at all, but you know the truth. I was seriously addicted. Had no idea how many times a day I stopped to see what the world was doing. By Wednesday I was pretty disgusted with myself and found that life indeed went on without Facebook. It was oddly freeing.
But back to the main point – holidays get interesting for single people. Here’s the thing, Thanksgiving and Christmas are my two favorite holidays and I will celebrate them in whatever way possible. I love going to parties and even hosting them. But what sucks for single people is celebrating them in a way where you end up making concessions for everyone else.
Not sure what I’m talking about? Let’s put it this way – think about the last few years and maybe even the upcoming holidays – who have you have invited to your events? Where do you put them? Some of my single friends are still stuck at the kids table – while younger people sit at the main table simply because they’re a couple. Some are invited as afterthoughts because the family members they normally celebrate with were invited elsewhere. Some have to change their plans last minute to accommodate siblings or other family members simply because “well, you’re only one person”. All while expected to bring food contributions, gifts and to show up looking classy and put together because “there’s no one else to take care of” and you can look good cause “you have all the time in the world” and “you need to attract men!”. Yet they’re the ones paying for all of that stuff by themselves. Because they are one person.
See what I mean? Most people don’t even notice. Hell, half the time us single people don’t even care. Because we’re with the people we love and we get to celebrate the holidays. (And honestly, we can go home by ourselves and go right to sleep if we want. Pros/cons) But then there’s the inevitable years where it feels off. Where you wish you had someone to attend all the events and parties with. Where you get tired of answering the same three or four questions that apparently are the go-to “ask the single person” ones.
So, in order to escape the weird questions or feelings or even loneliness, we end up on Facebook checking to see what’s new only to be bombarded again with the happy families, new engagements and overall good stuff that people post. All to have the stark reality thrown right back in your face. It’s real out in the field, people.
We are not alone in this either – any single parent, couple longing for children or people simply unhappy in their marriage more than likely go through the same thing.
My plea in this post is to think about these people during this holiday season. Don’t stuff the singles wherever you may have room cause you had to invite them. Remember for all intents and purposes they are a “family unit” as well. I’ve personally experienced the things I’ve pointed out and most times you just roll with it. Because that’s life and where I am in it for the time being. But it’s when people tell you that you should be more flexible (in whatever situation) because “it’s just you”, is when I usually lose it. You’re already trying to manage all this stuff on your own and then someone says something like that and it just make you feel like a friggin winner.
So here are some pointers. Instead of the obligatory questions about work, “where are you traveling to next” and, my personal favorite, “have you thought about online dating”, ask us what our favorite thing was this year. What was the best thing we learned? How are we making out with life? Do we need any help, advice or someone to talk to? (In my case it will probably be “do you need therapy? Lol)
This rant is how I feel now and it doesn’t usually last long. I’ll probably be just fine and dandy in a few weeks and be out celebrating somewhere. I’ll be fine – but please just think about those celebrating alone this season and make them feel just as special and loved as the others. Because they usually are.
Do you ever stop and wonder – what would it be like to have “their” life? To look like “they” do? To have the family “they” do?
Guess what? You’re killing yourself. Stop it. Now.
We as a society tend to put labels on everything. “She’s had a great career. She has the cutest kids. This girl has the best boyfriend. This one has the best taste in fashion”..etc etc
There is nothing wrong with admiring good traits and/or the successes of others. Everyone is unique and has different things to offer as far as personality and friendship and life lessons (the good. the bad. And the ugly!) We need to appreciate those traits in others around us.
But our biggest downfall? Ourselves. Thinking we’re not as good as those other people. That we’re not as attractive. We’re not as successful. And on and on and on. (And I’ve learned it’s not just us women who do this!)
I recognize this because I’ve done it myself – for years. Time and time again.
But here’s the cool thing – I’m my own person. And I’m awesome. Because I do my thing. That works for me. Even if it’s not “your” thing.
It’s taken me forever but I finally came to the realization that my life may not have turned out the way I thought it would ten or fifteen years ago. And want to know the best part? I. Am. Perfectly. Okay. With. That.
Why? Well. A lot of my personal desires have changed. Some because of situations and some because I simply grew up. As you develop as a person, you kinda get to know yourself. Crazy, right?
I was promoted. I learned a new job. Bought a house. Worked on wellness and personal boundaries. Made new friends. Nurtured relationships. Learned relationships change. Some get deeper and more intimate. And some tend to completely change or even end. Friends move on. Some stay around. Then, just to make things even more interesting, I moved my fine self across the country to try it all over again. That’s life my friends.
But here’s what’s bugging me tonight. How much I used to compare myself to others and how easy it is to fall back into it when things get hard. How what you knew is not what you know now. How (if you get your head out of your ass) you realize you’ve already past that and learned your lesson.
So try this: stop thinking you don’t have this or don’t have that. Start thinking about what you do have and what you’re awesome because of it. Recognize your beauty and personal accomplishments. Strength comes in all type of forms. But like everything else, you need to exercise it to maintain it.