Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Lives Between Lines


I've read so many beautiful blog posts lately. Posts that are compelling & inspirational & encouraging. Powerful posts about people finding themselves, figuring themselves out, following their hearts & going on to find their version of happiness. And every time I read one of these posts, for a split second, they make me feel great - they compel me, inspire me, encourage me. And then, immediately afterward, they piss me right the hell off.

It's just that... either these people are lying, or I'm doing life totally wrong, & frankly, both of those prospects feels equally despairing. If these smart people are all lying, then all that inspiration & encouragement feels like bullshit, pulled from the fantasyland of wish-I-could instead of the reality of I-actually-did. And if they're not lying? Then basically everyone is doing a better job of keeping themselves together than I am, & they've all progressed at a pace that's on par with where society says we ought to be but which I always thought was an exaggeration. I like to imagine that everyone else is terrified & messy, too, because it makes me feel like just another terrified, messy cog in the twentysomething machine, but if they're not? Then I'm alone in this, &... well, that's not what you want to hear, ever.

I have this problem - & maybe it's not a problem, always, but it usually feels like one - where I see every situation from every participants' perspective, whether I know all the players or not. When I read a blog post about someone's relationship gone bad, about the breakup that propelled them into The Best Version of Themselves, I find myself thinking about the ex-boyfriend in question: "I wonder how he feels about being called a manipulative sociopath. He probably thinks she's clingy & weak." When I read a post about someone who moved across the country on a whim & wants to share life lessons, I think, "I wonder if her real-life friends think she's this put-together, or just her Internet ones." I want to know the rest of these stories, because no one is that black or white. Of course, each of us can only tell our own side of any given story - but every single situation is written in the grey space, & as outside viewers, we only get to see one side of the spectrum, depending on which side of the prism we're given to look through.

It's not lying to show people only the pretty parts, in blog posts or otherwise; we do it every day, because it's the perspective we prefer or the one that best fits the narrative we want to construct for the public. But I want to know more. I want to know whether the stories that compel & inspire & encourage me are built on truth or perspective & what's on the other side of them. I want to know what the other people think, the people who are tangential to these stories, because maybe that would give me a fuller picture, help me to better contextualize the narrow angle I've been given.

Slowly, I'm starting to realize that I can't compare one-dimensional views of others peoples' lives to this fully three-dimensional view I have of my own life. Naturally, I have a broader, more complete view of the life I live than I do of anyone else's. How can I compare the bad in myself to the best of what you show me? It's not fair to compare the intimate, messy minutia of my life to the polished, prepared remarks of someone else's.

But behind the scenes, behind those pretty facades, every story - every real, fully dimensional story - is written in the grey space. Especially mine, I know, & even yours, I'm sure. Each of us is more than the words we choose to share, the limited perspectives we allow. There is so much more, but does it matter? All I can concentrate on is my own.

No comparisons. Just live.

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