You post pictures on Facebook and Instagram with captions that illustrate your flawless life. You post about your wonderful spouse. You post about how #grateful you are. You post about how easy grad school is or how much you love traveling for your job. You share how simple the transition from two kids to three kids has been—and how well they behave and how much they sleep. You post about the fun places you go. You post about your kids playing together peacefully. You share your Pinterest-worthy meals and super tidy home.

Everything is great! Everything is amazing! 

But inside your home, inside your heart, things look different. Inside there’s struggle, daily arguments, resentment that seeps into the walls, exhaustion, anger. Inside your home there’s uncertainty. Inside your heart there’s doubt and sadness. You actually hate traveling for your job. Any time you talk to your spouse, they seem to ignore you. One of your kids won’t listen to you, either. Another one has declared a sleep strike. The temper tantrums keep getting more and more frequent. You can’t keep up with your assignments. You’ve maxed out several credit cards. There’s only one tidy spot in your home, which is the spot you share. You feel disconnected from your body, and have a hard time remembering exactly who you are.

In other words, inside your home there’s life. Messy, scribbles-on-the-wall, toys-on-the-floor, dishes-above-the-sink life. Inside your heart there’s a range of feelings, a range of fears. There is complexity. There are multitudes.

We don’t need to share everything online. We don’t need to bare our hearts and souls. And, of course, what we do share are simply slices. Fleeting moments. A one-year-old smiling (just before a major meltdown). A couple laughing (after making up from a major fight). These moments are a room or two, or an object or two, of an entire house.

But sometimes we post so many perfect images and captions that the pretending spreads through the house like a wildfire. It poisons the entire pie. Sometimes we don’t even admit to ourselves how we actually feel. Sometimes we create images (and outer lives) that have no space for mistakes (or humanity). Sometimes we focus all our energy on creating a life we don’t even live.

And we suffer, unaware and in silence. We suffer trying to live our self-imposed, sky-high expectations. Look I’m fine! Things are fantastic! We suffer because we don’t tell anyone what’s really going on. And when we don’t tell anyone what’s going on, including ourselves, we don’t address our problems. We don’t address our pain. And we walk around dissatisfied and devastated, wearing a smile that doesn’t fit.

Admitting there are cracks is hard. But it’s also liberating. Because pretending requires energy, too. What if you shifted that energy toward what is helpful and supportive and deeply satisfying instead? What if you shifted that energy toward facing the challenges and toward embracing your life exactly as is (without styled images, without pretense)? What would be different then?

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash.