I’ve something to confess, my life is lived with loads of mistakes, u-turns, oopsy daisy and oh-bugger moments. It is nothing like the perfect lives you’ll find on Facebook, with an amazing social life, a perfect family and loads of exciting holidays, a life where no mistakes are ever made.
I think I probably make at least half a dozen, if not a full dozen of mistakes every week, I can even do that many in a day – although they can seem particularly rough days, I must admit.
My mistakes range from tiny things that don’t really signify through to ones that cost me a chunk of money that I can’t really afford to let get away.
But I do think it is quite a normal life, one that isn’t particularly special for the number or range of mistakes. It may be a little more authentic than some in terms of readily admitting to the mistakes but I’m not really so sure about that either.
When I talk to my customers at The Rocks Market about how the ceramic necklaces can have food washed off them and that I’ve personally tested this, everyone always admits to this little life experience. But how often on Facebook do we hear about the tomato sauce that we’ve managed to get down the front of that favourite top while at that wonderful restaurant? We might read about it on a blog but not on social media.
I have another confession to make, this one about Facebook. I’ve accepted that whatever I put on Facebook I’m publishing to the world, even on my own personal page because the friends of friends link mixed with six degrees of separation makes this so.
While I’m perfectly happy telling my best friend the latest debacle I don’t readily publish it on Facebook. I’m thinking I might be equally guilty of only showing the perfect life on social media.
I do believe that my business pages should be positive, that I should be walking my talk about being the positive change you want in the world. I do want to publish empowering and happy messages because that’s what I want to be contributing in those spaces.
So what about my personal Facebook page, it isn’t really personal, it’s a public presentation of myself? I do hope though that just as I let a human and realistic view of myself come through with my customers at market without confessing to all my topsy turvy moments that I do the same on Facebook.
I don’t want anyone thinking that I live some perfect life as an artisan making and selling her beautiful designs. Yes, that is the life I live but it is as normal and human as anyone else. I have tough days, it does take discipline to sit down to work in a very unstructured environment, I do stuff up activities and customer service (hopefully not too often!), I play to my strengths a little too much while leaving untended the things I find a little too challenging and this sometimes creates a mess that I have to dig myself out of. Sounding familiar? It’s just a normal life.
Knowing that it I’m lucky to be making my living doing something I love is also important. So many of us are unhappy in the daily work we do. We find our selves trapped in a routine, in a job that we more or less fell into and now don’t know how to get out. For many taking a leap like I did from corporate banking and IT to a creative life is just too much. I did it believing that I could go back to what I had been doing if it didn’t work out within six to 12 months. Fortunately it worked out.
But you don’t have to take a leap, you can move sideways into roles that use the same skills you have but in a different organisation, one that you find more interesting. Businesses and government agencies need new people to bring in different experiences and ideas so it’s a win/win for all involved.
It’s the comparing ourselves to others in a public space that claims to be being personal that can cause so much upset. I’m sure we can all selectively edit our lives so we publish something resembling this concept of a perfect life on Facebook but it won’t be an authentic representation of the life being lived.
Life is Messy
Life is far more messy and complicated that some idyll but feeling crap about living it simply takes too much time and energy.
For me, finding a way to live authentically and to be real with myself and those I share it with, publicly and personally, is fair more rewarding and fulfilling. I’m never going to live some perfect life, I’ll always be making mistakes because I’m human and I try new things. I’m not always as good natured and gracious as I’d like, I do swear too much (well more than I want to be seen to at least), I do procrastinate too much for my own good and I do stick my head in the sand at times and then get my bum bitten (no surprise with that result!). And I struggle with all of that, but that’s all fine really, because it is just part of life.
I want to define my own life, what makes it a well lived life for me. I don’t want it defined by some external public medium. What does that really have to do with me? With any of us? It is simply our public selves. It is a little like that question of if a tree falls in the forest and no human hears it then does it really happen? So human experience of something is the sole definition of it actually happening? How stupid is that? So the dinosaurs didn’t happen because there was no man around to validate them? So being recognised on Facebook for living a good life is where we should be seeking validation for our own existence? I don’t think so. Our validation comes from within, knowing whether you’re living with authenticity to yourself or not.
Social media platforms like Facebook are for our public lives, Facebook itself has ensured this with their constantly moving goal posts in all aspects of their business, especially the privacy settings. There is nothing private about anything your list or publish on Facebook, all of it is up for grabs and it always will be.
While I’m not eager to publish the personal aspects of my life, the ones I choose to share with my mum and closest friends, I’m not always going to be publishing elements of the perfect artisan and writer’s life because that would be failing in my efforts to live an authentic life, even though I love being part of a supportive creative community. It’s all too easy for us to compare our insides to other people’s outsides and feel like we’re lacking, that they are something amazing and we know ourselves to be all too human. But we’re all human, Facebook lives and all the mistakes that make up daily life. And what’s so wrong with mistakes anyway? They only suck when we don’t make good from them, when we don’t learn something or create something special form them.