Hands Up, Who Wants a Perfect Life?

Hands Up, Who Wants a Perfect Life?

“I just wished my life sucked a little bit more, you know?” 

— No-one. Ever. 

We’re surrounded by images of perfect homes, perfect parents, perfect kids. We flick through Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram and are bombarded with curated images of split-second perfection. We willingly invite this virtual utopia into our home via blogs, magazines and websites.

And it is so easy to believe.

It’s just so easy to slip into believing that these images and the light-hearted way perfect lives are described are actually real.

In fact, it’s probably easy to believe that the photo above is real. That this image represents the reality of my afternoons.

But come on now. You’re an intelligent person.

It is not reality. No image is, regardless of how carefree and laidback it may appear.

The caption of my above Instagram photo was, “Sanity Break.” And while that particular afternoon was very pretty, I was sitting in the hammock for approximately 28.5 uninterrupted seconds as my one moment of escape. I wasn’t relishing in the perfection of my day, I was escaping the reality of it. Just for a brief time.

And that reality? The kids had been busting my butt all day, I was hormonal, frustrated and facing the prospect of another night of completing the dinner-bath-books-bed routine without Ben.

I didn’t post it to show how perfect my life is (it’s not). I posted it to celebrate a very brief moment of calm in an otherwise chaotic day.


The reality is that everyone has crappy days, horrible weeks and difficult months. Everyone shouts at their kids. Everyone argues with their partners. Everyone has stages in life where the annoyances and the mess and the complications that don’t feed our souls take over. And you feel overwhelmed, undervalued, absent.

That is called life.

I am by no means anti-Instagram, anti-Pinterest or (heaven forbid!) anti-blog. I like new media. But it isn’t real life. It’s no-one’s real life.

But by inviting these images of perfection into our heads, by being envious of them, by trying to attain them, we are buying into the myth of perfection. And I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating:

Nothing and no-one is perfect. And that’s OK.

By inviting it in, we are giving this myth of perfection undue credit. We are choosing to compare our lives to these edited, censored glimpses. And it’s wrong.

It means we are left sapped of our energies, feeling inadequate, less than. And do you know what? We are doing this to ourselves. It’s not the media that’s doing this. It’s not bloggers. It’s not misogynistic, airbrush-wielding faceless men working for fashion magazines.

It’s us.

So I propose we put these beautiful images, perfect glimpses, wonderful ideas and magazine-worthy lives where they belong. As entertainment. As celebrations of fleetingly beautiful moments. As “sometimes” fun and occasional frivolity. But let’s stop making them more than they are, and let’s stop allowing them to make us feel less than.

Because you are enough. And if you think you’re lacking in some real way, looking at images of impossibly perfect toddler birthday parties on Pinterest sure as hell won’t help.

Share your thoughts in the comments below. Do you ever find yourself feeling inadequate when faced with the barrage of impossibly perfect images we see every day? 


24 Responses to Hands Up, Who Wants a Perfect Life?

  1. I used to, but I don’t any more. And I agree with everything you’re saying, but I want to go a step further. I want those of us who blog (and Pin and Tweet and post) about home to do more to show that the imperfection with which all of us live has its own beauty. I might be kind of a nut on this, but I truly believe that all those airbrushed, unrealistic images of home can be as harmful to our lives as airbrushed, unrealistic images of women are to women’s self-worth. Even smart, strong, fully aware women who know they should know better find themselves sucked in to the messages we all swim in about how we should look.

    Yes, we need to be aware consumers of all this media that I, too, use daily. But I think those of us who produce it need to do more to put a different message out there. (As you do, all the time.)

    • Yes, yes, yes!!! I have a complex about how “messy” I am… then a few of my blogging buddies posted a few pictures of their kitchens in a state of complete and total disarray and I didn’t feel quite so bad. I believe one of them used the caption “Behold the horror!” Here’s to the REAL humans!

    • Agreed wholeheartedly, Rita. I think it’s incredibly important to stop perpetuating the myth, and things ain’t gonna change unless we start changing them.

  2. I think it’s hard not to get caught up in the perfection trap sometimes, but I find if I tweak my thinking about the “perfection” I see all around me, it doesn’t have to get me all in a twist—instead of mistakenly believing that that perfection is that person’s life (and therefore better than mine), I simply think of those images as snapshots of beauty that make my day a little lovelier. Instead of grumbling inwardly because that one blogger got yet another bouquet from her seemingly perfect spouse (and I didn’t), I simply enjoy the beauty in the photo and seek out my own moments of beauty to post.

    I’m by no means perfect at this, but it’s a mind-shift I’ve experienced in the past year or so, and it’s really helped.

    Love this post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)


    • I really like that approach, Torrie. It can be more about mindset-shifting than ignoring completely. Because you’re right, there is an opportunity to relish the beautiful moments, even if they’re not ours.

      As long as there is an understanding that it’s not (a complete picture of) real life. :)

  3. Yes, yes, yes and yes! I read somewhere that you should never compare your “behind the scenes” with someone else’s “showreel”. So true. But so hard in this digital age. On the flipside, I do think that things like instagram have helped people to snap and appreciate those moments in time that otherwise might have passed un-noticed. Just this week I decided to embrace the imperfect and am currently blogging and posting the toddler mess in all its glory! Jen

    • Absolutely! There is beauty in the everyday, beauty in the mundane, beauty in the messy. And I think things like Instagram help us take notice of that. And how much better is your day when you take a moment to find the beautiful? :)

  4. Oh yes! I am forever comparing myself to the fictitious “normal” people out there. Every time I start to do it, CatMan has to remind me of how crazy everybody I actually know really is! I think I’m glad that I don’t do Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram or any of those other sites – it might just push me over the edge! :-)

  5. Thank you for being so honest & real. Your writing is an inspirational breath of fresh air . I have recently quit my addiction to interiors magazines because they feed my dissatisfaction .

    • Thank you, Noelle. Such kind words.

      Also, like Rita said above, the dissatisfaction we can feel about our life/house/surroundings can be as detrimental as what we feel about our physical appearance. Things like interiors magazines can definitely fall under that category if we spend too much time in them.

      Glad to hear you’re able to move beyond that though – it must feel good!

  6. I had just come in sweaty and late to get started working from cleaning up the glass the was spread across the patio and lawn from the hose the I pulled to get the sprinkler in place for the garden, after quickly walking the dogs. Man I needed to read this…thanks…

  7. Wow thanks. It is nice to see someone else be completely honest with their life and share it. I too try and be as honest as I can with my blog and will tell tales of my daughter being an utter pain but, I try not to do too much since what I post is “permanent” and do not want to embarrass her when she gets older and happens to come across my blog.

    • It can be such a fine line, can’t it? A little anecdote told in all good intention could potentially bite our kids in the butt later in life.

      But we still want to share with transparency and honesty. Hopefully the fact that we’re aware and intentional about the issue means we’re making the right choices.

  8. I’m constantly reminding myself that all I see are little glimpses in to other people’s lives via social media. Their lives (surely!) cannot be all ceramic owls, bunting and striped paper straws. For me, I struggle with those glimpses which show a life more financially fortunate than mine. I need to back away from those as I begin to wish and want for lifestyle and the “stuff” we just can’t afford. It can be quite overwhelming.

  9. Hi Brooke,

    Perfect Image, a wonderful hallucination that is created in our mind but I don’t think there is anything wrong in it. At least, it helps us take some positive steps so as to achieve that perfectionism, although I also believe that Perfectionism remains only in our thoughts.

    By the end of the say, we are what we are and we experience the life as we see from our own perception. Life has never been smooth for anyone, neither it will be ever. We as human beings are the strongest to find that perfect image and experience the best that we have got in our life.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful deep insights.

  10. I absolutely could not agree more with what you’ve written here. I’ve recently purged my life of Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram because I realized I was making myself crazy focusing {and comparing} unimportant, unrealistic ideals that cannot be attained. Thank you for putting words to how I’ve been feeling! Here’s to imperfect, messy-beautiful lives that extend grace and love to the world around us. And here’s to enjoying those brief glimpses of pure loveliness that appear in the in-between of real life.

  11. Looking at the other side of the equation, I am starting to question more and more why we feel the need to share all of this stuff anyway? I keep thinking of that old chestnut: If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it… ie “If I have a brief moment of serenity/hear my toddler say something cute/lose the plot after a hectic day and don’t share these moments on social media, then did I really have that moment? Why do we need feedback from our “audience” to validate our experiences and choices?