A few days ago, Jenny Lawson–The Bloggess–wrote a post reaching out to her readers with a question. She wasn’t fishing for compliments and didn’t want to be made to feel better. Rather, she wanted the truth. She wanted to know if she was the only person who often feels inadequate in her life. Lawson was open and honest about the anxieties she has. She wanted to know if she needed to make life changes or “if this is just normal and people just don’t talk about it.”
[Note: Lawson has an extremely popular and successful blog as well as has written a book that was on the NY Times Bestseller list. She obviously loves her daughter and is a good parent. And she seems to have a loving relationship with her spouse. All successes in and of themselves but combined makes her a lady who is kicking ass in life.]
The resounding response affirmed that Lawson is not alone. The comments brought together a community of people who openly shared their own overwhelmed-ness with keeping up with life. Comment #53 by Avid Bruxist summed it up perfectly:
“Your paradigm’s broken. Mine too.
I don’t know how to repair it, but I feel you.”
I feel this too.
I think that most of the anxiety that amazing women have is a result of a skewed paradigm. A paradigm perpetuated by our culture that also encourages us to hide this anxiety.
Example: I recently bought a Ms. Bento box for my son (because his school doesn’t do hot lunch–curse them). I am not a lunch maker. I tend to eat whatever is left in the fridge from the week. My son is a hunger artist and changes what he will and will not eat on a daily basis.
I don’t like cheese.
You ate it yesterday.
That was yesterday.
Will you like cheese tomorrow?
I don’t know.
Plus he won’t eat leftovers if they aren’t actually hot. So the Ms. Bento box seemed like a good solution. The problem was that other than white rice (which right now he will eat), I have no idea what to put in the cute little insulated bowls. So I googled “bento lunch kids ideas” to help me with finding ideas.
There are no helpful images of kids’ bento boxes. Rather, there is litany of bento boxes made by the Stepford Wives or by a parent who has way too much time on his or her hands or a group of normal people who only think that we are interested in their intricate and rich bento box tableaus and not what they pack day-to-day.
All I wanted was help. Instead I learned that I need to dye my white rice rainbow colors.
But this is the problem with the Interwebs. And our participation on the ‘Webs. We are so rarely honestly like Jenny Lawson is. Instead we brag about the shiny and bright in our lives.
I think that it isn’t bad to want to showcase our successes–especially when we know that the eyes of a million closest strangers will be watching–but I think that it contributes to our skewed paradigm of what “normal” parenting/relationship/work/play/downtime actually is.
The pendulum doesn’t need to swing to the side where we only present our secret sorrows to the world. Discretion is key.
What we need is more people like Jenny and Amy: funny, smart, honest women who aren’t afraid of sharing both their shiny and their tarnished selves.