Bad days – we all have em. So why aren’t we talking about them? Keep reading to hear why I think talking about bad days is so important to living an authentic life!
I recently stumbled across the following quote from one of my favourite feminist celebrities, and it really stuck with me:
As simple as the above statement is, it seems that lately we all have a real problem with the idea of being a perfect disaster. Why can’t we be a totally beautiful paradox? A messy complicated contradiction? Why does it seem like the narratives we create around our setbacks and failures directly minimize the great work we do? Why can’t we be successful and unsuccessful at the same time? Here’s what I mean; I can’t tell you the number of times I have had friends, family, or complete strangers either through work or social media message me and ask me, “how do you have it all together?”. I am going to let everyone in on a little secret… I DON’T. Here’s the dirty truth – I love home design, I love make up and all things beautiful, but if you told me you were on your way to my house on a Wednesday at 5pm with no notice – I would be having a full on panic attack because I would be slothing around my house in sweat pants with a can of dry shampoo in my hair and (if we are lucky) there may be ONE neat and tidy room in my house. I laugh every time someone asks me how I keep my house so beautiful all the time… because I don’t. What I have yet to post is s photo of my “Monica Gellar” closet room that looks like I may have actually been robbed. If you don’t get that F.R.I.E.N.D.S reference…. go look it up. Now of course right now I am talking about more superficial things, however this idea extends way beyond whether or not my laundry is done or my hair has been brushed.
Here are few other facts that you might not know about my current life that isn’t shown on social media – I am a 27 year old home owner and I don’t have a freaking clue what i’m doing. I still ask my mom to make certain phone calls for me, and I would be lying if I said I haven’t tricked my dog into attacking a spider off the wall because I was too scared to get it. I have a 90 year old grandmother with dementia who is my very best friend, and every time I listen to her talk total nonsense BREAKS my heart into one million pieces because she is the most intelligent woman I know. I worry about her constantly. I also I work full time, and 3-5 days a week I usually feel like a fraud because I have skipped the gym all week and havn’t done a single thing that I encourage others to do. It is so easy for my life stressors to rob me of my accomplishments and make me feel inadequate for having the occasional break down or bad day. So back to my original question… why can’t I be a totally functioning professional by day, and a total mess some nights when I get home? Its like we aren’t allowed to talk about these bad days where we simply don’t have it all together. My current stressors overwhelm me sometimes, but I am doing the best I can and really… what else can I do?
In the past, I had friends who could not handle me being anything less than what they wanted. Actually I lied, they could handle it… they loved when I was less than perfect because it was fuel to boost their own self esteem. I never felt I could be truly myself, and I knew I had to choose what I shared VERY wisely as it would likely be re-surfaced down the road to win an argument. Constant comparisons and competitions was the norm, and there was this unspoken belief that you shared your struggles you would be seen as weak, or “too much” to handle. Everyone was so focused on one-upping the other, that no one was ever really authentic – at least from where I stood. Fast forward to 2017, and I have the BEST friend’s you could ask for, and they are all as equally disastrous as I am. Now before I get 100 texts – let me explain. My current friends are not actually any more of a mess than any that came before, however they are AUTHENTIC and not afraid to say when they are having a really rough time. When someone’s world is falling apart, and they are sitting in their car crying and have absolutely no idea why – they call and tell me how awful their day was. When someone gains 15lbs, or gets fired, or dumped, or makes some alcohol induced choices that they aren’t necessarily proud of… we TALK about it. There is no judgement, there is no fear of their bad day being used as ammo, we just figure out how to deal with it together, because we all know we have been there before and will likely be there again. Just a few short weeks ago, I made my best friend come get me from the gym parking lot because I was a crying blubbering mess- and she sped over in 5 minutes and we talked it out. I never feared that the whole world would know about it… and truth be told I really didn’t care if they did. The point is, we all become a little bit more human when we allow other people to see the good AND the bad and ugly (and I mean UGLY…. you don’t want to see me a full blown walrus cry – its not a pretty sight).
We are not broken useless humans just because we don’t get out of bed for one entire Saturday! And I would say, from both my personal and professional experience, the number one risk factor contributing to 10 days of being stuck in bed, is not telling anyone about the first day you felt stuck in bed! If you feel like you are burdening those around you because you are having a bad day – re-evaluate your squad my friend. If your friends are only there when its sunshine and rainbows, they really aren’t people who are going to be there when you need them most. I don’t need my friends when I am feeling like Beyonce and having a bangin’ hair day – I need my friends when I can’t fit into the jeans I wore only 2 months ago because I ate like 10 pieces of pumpkin pie at thanksgiving (this didn’t actually happen I swear……… im lying. it did). I want my friends when i’m kicking ass at life, I need them when i’m failing miserably at it!!!!
Dr. Kristen Neff is my spirit animal in the world of mental health right now, and she really addresses this topic so beautifully. Much of Dr. Neff’s work focuses on the difference between self esteem and self compassion, and why this search for self-esteem is actually quite problematic. The example of my previous friendships who capitalized off of my shortcomings is an example – my self esteem went down, and their’s went up. As much as we don’t want to admit that this can be the case for all of us, it kind of is. Self esteem has turned into all about being the BEST, and realistically speaking, there can only be one BEST at anything. So the only way to take that coveted spot is to put other’s below you. Dr. Neff encourages us to look at putting our energy into cultivating self compassion instead and shares a TON of info on her website (which I will link below) and her book, which really changed my relationship with myself (also linked below). Of all of Dr. Neff’s inspiring work, the concept that resonates with me the most and that seems to be the most applicable to this post is her recognition of the need for common humanity.
Common Humanity Vs. Isolation:
Some of the thoughts I have had go through my own head were highlighted above such as being a burden, overwhelming to others, or letting someone else down. We have become so comfortable putting the needs of others above our own that we actually sacrifice our shared experiences as a result of our fear of being “too much for someone”. This concept from Dr. Neff derives from the belief, or the fact I should say, that we all suffer. It is part of the human experience to suffer, and if we are not able to share with one another when things go wrong and our days are total disasters, how can we possibly relate to one another? We tend to hold beliefs that we are the “only” one going through this particular experience, and in some instances we are. That being said, that doesn’t mean that we are the ONLY ones suffering at that time. When we isolate in this way and stay silent about our bad day’s as if it is something to be ashamed of, we have no choice but to feel isolated and alone. Now, I am by no means promoting a pity party here – but rather a more BALANCED view of reality. Our only chance of ever overcoming stigma in relation to mental health is to talk about it, and share our experiences so we can learn from each other. In my opinion, we also need to work on being a little more selfish! My needs are not necessarily more important than someone else’s, but they certainly aren’t less important. We can be a kind person and still say no!
I know that my bad day’s are some people’s BEST days. I am totally and fully aware of that. But they are MY worst days, in my current experience, and I am allowed to suffer too – even if there are others who have it way worse. Without common humanity, we can’t even begin to show empathy and support to issues outside of our experience when we can’t even take the time to look inwards and take care of our own needs! Self compassion allows you to just say “TODAY WAS AWFUL” and sit with that discomfort for a while, treat yourself with kindness, and acknowledge how hard this day was for YOU regardless of whether or not it “should” be hard in the grand scheme of life. Yesterday was AWFUL for me and I went to bed at 4:30pm because I needed it. Now, I made sure to pick myself up and get my ass out of bed today, however I tried really hard to do so without the guilt of wasting my night last night.
I hope that somewhere in this post you have asked yourself “when was the last time I acknowledged I had a bad day and gave myself a break?”. And I hope you keep asking those questions. I hope that you give yourself a break from being only a “masterpiece” and allow yourself an opportunity to be a work in progress without taking away from the absolute MASTERPIECE that you are even when you lay in bed all night. Authenticity is our greatest gift to connect with one another – let people help you when you need it! As Ellen always says, “be kind to one another” – but don’t forget to be kind to yourself too.
Check out the links below and explore some of Dr. Neff’s work – I am not affiliated with Dr. Neff in ANY way, other than the fact that we are best friends. She doesn’t know we are best friends. But trust me, if she met me she would be my best friend. I truly love her work, her focus, and her passion for giving you permission to be nice to yourself!
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