We recently returned from spending 4 nights at Ben's parents' farm in Kentucky. It was so great to spend time with family, eat wonderful farm-fresh food, and ride horses. Speaking of which, here are a few pics of me, Ally, and Amelia channeling our inner equestrian spirits. Can't wait to ride again!
It has been a really long time (like probably on the order of 2 years) since I've written a blog post that is even remotely reflective, insightful, or contemplative. However, a recent blog post by my friend Laura (read it here) has really inspired me to write down my own thoughts about the illusion of awesomeness.
I love Facebook and Twitter. They have allowed me to keep in touch with friends and family who don't live nearby, and they have allowed me to reconnect with friends whom I haven't seen in a while. I also enjoy reading blogs, particularly those written by fellow moms. However, I have had to become a bit more selective in what I read because everyone is so awesome.
You know what I mean. I'm talking about those pictures that people post where in the background you can see their awesomely decorated and clean house. Or the pictures that people post where their kids are dressed in awesomely adorable outfits, winning awards at something, having an awesome time with their parents and everyone is smiley, etc. Or the pictures people post of their awesomely cute crafty creations, edible and otherwise. And then there are the blogs which in my opinion can be some of the biggest shows of awesomeness. I had to stop reading a couple blogs because I started feeling a bit guilty that I didn't home-school my kids, didn't have my house organized to a tee, didn't stay at home full-time, didn't read my Bible daily or have daily quiet time, didn't cook organic scratch-made meals for my family everyday, and wasn't actively "surrendering my family planning to the Lord." The people writing those posts seemed to have their lives so awesomely figured out, and suddenly, I found myself feeling pretty, well, not awesome. And with social media and the internet all around us and available literally at our fingertips 24/7, it seems like these awesome people are everywhere. But here's the thing:
No one is 100% awesome 100% of the time.
To be clear, there are people out there doing awesome things, and those awesome things should be celebrated and rewarded. I have friends and coworkers who have and are achieving awesome things in their professional lives and I want to know about that so I can celebrate with them. I want my friends to keep posting pictures of their kids on Facebook because their kids are cute. I have actually appreciated seeing some of those crafty and tasty ideas online because it gave me an idea of my own, which turned out to be successful. But what we have to remember (and as Laura so nicely stated in her post) is that all these awesome posts, pictures, and Pinterest creations are representing people at their best. We don't see the flops, the struggles, the failures, or the mess that likely preceded (or maybe even followed) the awesome moment. And we also have to remember that social media relationships and internet connections aren't surrogates for real relationships. It is easy for someone to make him/herself look 100% awesome 100% of the time when they can select what they want other people to see and hide the rest behind the keyboard. Real relationships can't involve illusions of awesomeness; they involve real human people at their best and worst and who aren't afraid to open up to each other, admit their struggles, and be vulnerable once in a while. So here are a few (of many) ways that illustrate how:
I am not 100% awesome 100% of the time.
A couple months ago, I had one of the manuscripts from my dissertation accepted for publication in a scientific journal. However, the acceptance came after three previous rejections from other journals. And the other manuscript from my dissertation has been rejected at least once and is in review at another journal. And my dissertation is now 2 years in the past.
I am a PhD-level exercise physiologist, and so I am well aware of the fact that I should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. I love to run, and I even promoted my own awesomeness in my October post when I talked about my PR in the Carrboro 10K (complete with a nice action shot of me running). That was where the awesomeness ended, because I have not gone running since sometime in January. And before that, the last time I ran regularly was sometime in November or December. This semester has been really busy for both Ben and me, and the winter weather we've had lately has not helped either. I am itching to lace up my shoes and pound the pavement, but right now it's just not happening.
I am a college professor, so I am put to the test every day when I stand up in front of my classes. I love what I do, and I think I do it fairly well for this being only my second year as a faculty member. But I am not awesome. I make mistakes, I forget things, and I don't always know the answers to questions. Of the 11 sets of course evaluations that students have filled out for my classes in these first 2 years I've been at my institution, only 2 of them are really outstanding. The majority of them are the same as my colleagues, and some of them are (dare I say it) worse than my colleagues.
I try to keep my house mostly uncluttered, but it is not terribly clean. I don't remember when I last swept my kitchen floor. We do clean the main living areas when we have people coming over, but the bedrooms are another story. I do not have an eye for interior design. Most of our furniture is second-hand that we've acquired over the years, so a lot of it doesn't match. And since we have a 5 year old and a 2 year old, it is usually covered with fingerprints, crumbs, and stains of various sorts.
And then there are my kids. The girls are great with each other. They play together and love on each other dearly. But they also fight with each other, cry, yell, scream, pout, disobey, say unkind words to each other and to me, and act like babies. They are usually well-behaved in public and at other people's houses, but there have been times when that hasn't been the case (and of course, it's when we're the only ones with kids in tow). But they are kids, and that is what kids do from time to time. Last Saturday in Target was one of those times.
Point being, life is not always awesome. But it's not supposed to be either, and that's okay. Let's all be okay with not being 100% awesome 100% of the time. Let's stop chasing the illusion of awesomeness.
The back story: A couple weeks ago, Ben went to Baltimore for a conference. He left on a Saturday and came back on Monday. The following is an exchange between Ally and me.
Ally: "Mom, is anyone going to come and help you while Daddy is away? I'm a little worried that you're not going to be able to watch me and Amelia by yourself."
Me (out loud): "Nope, it's just going to be the three of us."
Me (in my head): "Um, should I be worried?"
In all fairness, the last time Ben went to a conference was last May when he was in Australia for a week. For that, my parents did come and stay with us. Life with kids...it keeps you on your toes!
Two weeks ago, I ran my first race in 4 years-the Carrboro 10K (it's been a little busy around here since 2010!). It was a great morning to be out pounding the pavement with a few hundred of my fellow runners. I was quite pleased with my result; I ran my fastest 10K yet (sub-8:00 mile pace) and placed 6th in my age group. One day though, I intend to make it into the top 3!