I have wasted more sighs than I’d like to mention over magazine covers in the grocery store. But these days, instead of thinking “Never in my life will I be that pretty or that skinny,” I have become black-belt status in the art of reminding myself that a) those people are photoshopped and b) even if they weren’t, salad still tastes like I’d rather be fat. So, I don’t look to magazine covers anymore to “become something.” These days I aspire to be someone else: me.
“Isn’t that nice?” you’re thinking. Well… it’s not. Because the “me” I’m speaking of isn’t who I am now. It’s the “slightly-unealistic-future-me.” The one with perfect skin, a yoga figure, and a smokin’ resume. She has tons of friends and a healthy mind that’s never depressed. She doesn’t ever doubt the path she laid out for herself. She breathes deep. She’s noticed because she’s just that inspiring and accomplished.
Ok, so I don’t want to discount trying to improve and be the best version of ourselves, but I would like to examine the pressures we put on ourselves to be something we consider “enough.” I know that I, for one, have at times been truly disappointed in who I am. Then I start blaming.
I blame the depression that I’ve never published a book. I blame laziness or fear that I’ve never tried to pitch a song or cut an album. I blame my free spirit that the idea of a desk-sitting (or desk-standing as the new trend is) normal 9-5 job makes me want to throw up and run away, making it impossible for me to have an impressive career.
Blame is great, isn’t it?! It says, “You don’t understand, World! If only you handed me everything and not put all the people against me, I wouldn’t be sad, and I’d be brave enough to do hard things.”
But then I thought… you know what? I get up in the morning when the day is big and grey and glaring at me. I go out when the subway sounds cold and long and terrible. I breathe deep when my body feels limp and listless and tired. I apply for jobs I’m not even sure I can handle. Sometimes I even look up at someone and smile when my head is hurting, emotion lost inside me, and my chest feels like lead.
Let me tell you. Those things are not easy.
So unlike future me, I haven’t published a book or built an annoyingly outstanding resume, and also, I still don’t have clear skin (dangit). But like future me, I live with integrity, I strive, and I do hard things, even if I’m the only one who sees them. I still want to write a book and do lots of très cool things in my life. But this unrealistic pressure to be an unattainable me laced in glitter with photoshopped emotions needs to go.
So if you struggle with this too, it’s time to adjust some expectations, and acknowledge feats accomplished. Its time to say to yourself: these unrealistic expectations taste like I’d rather be the present me, the one who is striving and digging in the dirt of life to find beauty. She is real. Her wounds are real. She is brave, capable of inspiring, and undeniably and completely enough.