Why Can't We Admit That Our Lives Aren't Perfect?

Inspiring 6

Sad WomanA post on the New York Times blog Motherlode is getting lots of buzz today. In it, the divorced mother of young children writes very honestly about watching other family's lives around her, on Facebook and in real life, and wondering if they're as happy as they appear or if they're merely struggling to maintain a facade of perfection.

Amy Lawton writes:

Why is it so hard to have honest conversations about things that really matter? Not politics or books or current events – those things are easy to talk about. It’s our own vulnerabilities that get stuck on our tongues. Is this true just for me?

How would you answer her?

Lawton did a fantastic job of writing about this issue by being vulnerable and open in her post, admitting that she's not at all happy with her divorced status, that she envies the families around her, and that the nights without her children seem to last forever.

But the larger issue she writes about has bothered me for years. I know that my own life is far from perfect -- I struggle as a wife, as a mom, as a stepmom. I struggle with my purpose in life and my direction. I struggle mightily to find happiness. Yet people outside my home probably would think things appear to be just wonderful.

Is this true for you, too? Why do we all feel the need to constantly convince others that we're "fine?" We're "happy?" We're "okay?"

Even when we're not.

I think the uncomfortable flip side of this issue is that most people don't really want to be around a person who's down and openly admitting it. We call them whiners ... complainers ... Debbie Downers. We're shocked by the things they admit in the car rider pick-up line or on Facebook. We're judgmental. Everyone gets a pass to complain once in a while, of course, but when someone seems to be down a lot, that person is generally avoided by others. It's sad but true.

All this doesn't really make me want to run to Facebook and write about my troubles any time soon!

Those are my thoughts on the matter. What are yours? Are you a "creeper" like Lawton, watching other families who seem to be happy together and wondering if you'll ever have that kind of happiness as well? And why do you think we have such a hard time being honest with each other about our lives?


Image via alubavin/Flickr


confessional, women's issues


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nonmember avatar KA

It's true. No one wants to listen to someone complain or say that their life isn't what they want it to be. People would just say "then change it" & sometimes that isn't as easy as it seems. The majority of friends on FB show the happy side & nothing else, but I do have a couple of friends who will let it show that their lives aren't all sunshine & rainbows & yeah, sometimes it's a drag but at least I know they're real. They don't always post negative stuff either. I try to keep my FB pretty sterile - not happy, not sad. Inside I'm dying though & that in iteself is really sad.

Tracys2 Tracys2

I love my friends who admit (facebook or RL, no difference to me) that they have problems. It's good to bond. It's hard when anybody is negative all the time, but in the last 10 years, I haven't truly run into anyone like that. Everybody appreciates sunsets o somethng cute their kid does.

If you are spending your life pretending it's perfect or not really saying anything, how are you going to get close to anyone?

nonmember avatar Eliza

As far as fb goes, don't compare your "behind the scenes" to everyone else's "highlight reel"!

Angie... AngieHayes

I too have wondered if peoples lives are as good as they seem.

stara... starandseen

I'm not on Facebook but I do appreciate honesty in blog posts or news articles because that means they struggle too and not just me.

People do talk about their problems, but to one or two close friends or family, not in public. And since we can't read each other's minds, we don't know what they're thinking in their head.

I do wish being vulnerable and talking about our struggles weren't so taboo or uncomfortable amongst adults. Seems it's okay to be emo as teens, but when we reach adulthood, being emotional is a sign of immaturity.

LadyM... LadyMinni

Why can't we admit that our lives aren't perfect? *looks at perfect life* Well if you want me to lie....

Obviously I'm kidding. We cannot admit that our lives aren't perfect because imperfection is weakness and we cannot be seen as weak. People are designed to seek out weakness and destroy it. I personally am of the belief that you don't discuss your problems with people, especially not in public. If you have a problem, solve it. I don't think we should lie and say that our lives are perfect but, at the same time, no one needs to know our private business. It's like crying: It's okay only in front of a small group of people, in private.

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