Do you ever want to scream, “I’M NOT WHO YOU THINK I AM?”

I had a conversation with a friend the other day, granted she wasn’t a close, every-day-type of friend, but I’ve known her for a long time. Throughout the visit she’d make references to things that were hard like she needed to somehow explain to me what a tough season of life might look like. As though I might not get it if she didn’t dumb it down for me. I’m making her sound worse than she was, but it did sort of make me want to scream, “I’m not who you think I am!” Like just because I’m pushing through my days trying to get things done, check things off a list, working on the areas I want to change - all that jazz - doesn’t mean I’m not trudging through muck. Just because I’m not griping about it on facebook or talking to everyone I see about whatever circumstance is dominating my thought life doesn’t mean I’m not consumed by it. It doesn’t mean I don’t get my feelings hurt, feel disappointment, feel loneliness, feel failure. It doesn’t mean I don’t wish I could make faster progress on my goals, change some things in my life, redo some situations. Just because I can put on perfume and makeup and have a fresh haircut and manicure doesn’t mean that I don’t feel sad or angry or wish I could just get back in bed and cover my head with the covers.

And it makes me wonder where the balance is.

Where do you cross the line of saying too much instead of not saying enough?
When are you just being honest and when is it oversharing?
What’s the difference between being completely truthful about where you are and just whining?

I’ve never been more aware of the façade of social media. Most of the time I flip through instagram and save a few things to my design favorites in case we ever build another house, or flag a recipe I’d like to try, or save a fun place I’d like to look into the next time we’re planning a trip, but it really hasn’t ever negatively impacted me. I like looking at other people’s highlight reel. In the last few months, though, it’s been different. I’ve been in a low season, and I totally see now what I’ve heard others say. It can really put you in a dark place of comparison and inadequacy to spend very much time looking at only the good in other people’s lives. You quickly forget they aren’t posting their bad days. it’s a funny thing how it works. All of a sudden you really do start thinking ‘look how much fun they’re having on the beach and it’s 20 and sleeting here’ or ‘her house is so clean and I need Marie Kondo to host an intervention in my closet’ or ‘that’s a darling dress, but it would never looks like that on me.’ The list goes on. I even know people personally who have some real junk going on in their lives and of course things look delightful on insta. That’s what we do. How quickly we forget. One night I think I literally said aloud, “Marian, it’s instagram… it’s not real life.” I mean, yea, it’s snippets of real life. But it’s just snippets. Probably with a filter. I put a quick stop to the madness and quit the incessant scrolling. Rule #1 for dragging yourself out of the mire = do something about your social media habit. It’s amazing how much it helps your frame of mind. I like a good instastory, but it just can’t be nonstop. it’s murder on your psyche.

Back to the visit with my friend — we’ve got to get better.. No one wants a friend who needs to have a serious talk every time you get together. But we have to get better at really checking on each other. Is there someone you see everyday in the office and she’s always on her game? Do you really know how she’s doing? Do you see a friend for lunch regularly, but you aren’t sure if things are really ok in her life? Does she need you to spend some time in prayer for her? Could she use someone to help her process a situation? Is there a way you could show support and you’re completely missing it? Does she even feel like she could be honest with you about her struggle? Does she have permission not to be the strong one, the one who has it all together, the one who has a plan, the one who’s successful? Can she be the one who’s stuck? Can she be real? I’m finally seeing the other side of some dark days and I’m so grateful for the friends who have taken time to stop and just ask some honest questions. For the ones who’ve been on the other side of a text message and said, “when and where, let me meet you.” It matters. We need each other. This life will eat us up. If things are great in your life right now, I’m so glad. Life is so good when things are clicking along smoothly and there’s no major hiccups. But if there’s anything I know, life is seasons and everyone walks through all of them. Walking through winter has helped me to know better how to slow down and be a friend. I have a few people on my list to check on this week. And no matter what, the conversation will not turn back to me. We’ll stay on the subject of her and I’ll give her a chance to speak her heart if she wants to. A safe place that doesn’t expect nor require perfection.

For all the strong women out there, the personalities who feel like it’s your role in every relationship to lead the charge, to be strong, to be productive, to win at life - for those of you who sometimes want to scream “I’m not who you think I am!” — I hear you.