I've been thinking a lot about platitudes lately. The conversation of genuine interaction has come up really often in my every day life lately, probably because my thoughts have been there anyway. However, I find I have some very strong opinions on the subject after all.
It started with a job I took, working as an assistant in a school. Now, if you don't know, there's a standard for self that is unspoken in a school. After all, we are molding and shaping kids there, right? So, we want happy and well adjusted children so when they have a bad day, we put on a smile and explain gratitude, and talk to them about all the good things that are going on in their life that they can focus on. Which I think is exactly what we SHOULD be doing, and how that should be handled. But it doesn't turn off with just the students.
There I was surrounded by people, mostly women, who honestly are the people I spend the most time with in any given day. And I personally, as I know many of you would feel, wanted to get to know them. Know who they are. Learn something from each person in my daily interactions.
You know what I found? Platitudes.
Day in, day out, no matter how many times you would look someone in the eye, and ask a very genuine.."Good morning, How are you?" I would get the same response. "I'm sooooo great. Loving life, and just so grateful for X Y Z.." (or something really similar)
Everyone had the student interaction smile pasted on their face, and divulged only the greatest parts of their life to me at any given moment.
I looked around. Outside of work it wasn't AS bad. (outside of the school I should say), but it WAS there. It was TOO prevalent.
People all over who were living their life IN PERSON as if they were posting a status on social media. Some vague quote about how perfect life is if you look hard. Comments on gratitude and being positive as if anything less is unacceptable. And they were doing it in person
Meanwhile, there I am, desperate to share real life with people. To tell them that raising teenagers was about to be the death of me. That it is sooooo hard. To ask how they manage? To ask if they have any wisdom to share. To tell someone that I was having a hard day. That today I feel inadequate. Fat. That I feel like I'm failing as a wife. As a mom. As a human. (Don't judge, I know you have felt that way too.)
But no one wanted to share that part.
Now, I know that some of you will be thinking....that's because we save those types of real talks for our closest friends. That we don't go around sharing our problems. But I challenge you with a "Why Not?"
How do we make close friends, if we don't know what we have in common? How can we share anything if we have set a precedent of LYING to one another when we meet?
I am not interested in playing a dating game with everyone I meet, for some indeterminate amount of time, and then one day having to confess that the super happy, positive , always sees the sunny side person you have known for the last year has been a fake. "Barbara, I have to confess something,....I have bad days" isn't something ANY of us should strive for.
And its dangerous.
Lets go back to the school for a minute.
I have never felt so alone, isolated, or DIFFERENT than I did at that time I was describing. I went home each day wondering what ELSE could possibly be wrong with me. These people that I was working with, that I spent so much time with never seemed to struggle. They never seemed to have a bad day. "Am I the only one who has days of immense sadness and self doubt?" I would ask myself. Something must be wrong with me. Oh, all the thoughts.
It was super unhealthy, not only for the FAKERS but for me as well.
I mean, they too weren't getting help with the things they needed help with. I know they felt alone at times. They just wouldn't say it. My heart hurt for them as well. We were all just these automatons walking around making each other feel like we weren't part of a village, but more a part of a Facebook news feed. Pretending with each other that we love Mondays, and are grateful for all the rain while standing in it for arrival of the students.
And we all felt it. We feel it. The lack of Genuine connection. The lack of feeling like part of a village. A community. I know I did. I know I do.
So I say again. Its dangerous.
Go out there and share the real you. Find a tribe of people who also are struggling with teenagers. Who are struggling with body positivity. Who just struggle some days. (Not people who live there, but visit once in a while and then shake it) Stop being part of the fake sincerity. Stop pretending that happiness is the only thing worth sharing. Stop feeling so damn alone. Find your people.
I warn you however, you will not find those people if you, or they, are hiding behind a great big pile of Platitudes.