Do you ever look at someone and wonder how their life is so perfect and put together while yours seems to be crumbling apart? I catch myself comparing my life to almost everyone else's, and as I do so, sadness and self doubt quickly follow. "They make more money than me", "she's thinner than me", "he has more friends than me", "how come they never go through hard things, when my burdens are never-ending?", are only few of daily phrases that so easily fog my mind as I compare my life to those I see. I'd bet that anyone reading this would be the first to say they don't have a perfect life for one reason or another, which could only mean one thing... no one has a perfect life.
"Nobody's perfect" is a phrase we hear often, yet I'm convinced we don't actually allow ourselves to believe it. Why are we quick to compare ourselves to another, even if we know deep down they aren't perfect either?
I'm not gonna lie and say everyone has the same level of burdens or trials, but what I do know for sure is that everyone on this earth experiences heartache, loneliness, and self doubt at one time or another. The phrase "that's just life" used to bother me so much, because it felt like someone was telling me to "just get over it", and as a human thats not a very easy thing to do.
Within just over a year I've moved twice, lost my best friend of 18 years to a car accident, fluctuated with my weight causing my confidence to shatter, and injured my back so bad I now need back surgery. It's easy for me to look at my life and wonder ... why me? Why is it ALWAYS me? I get so caught up thinking about my own struggles, I tend forget that other people have them too. Social media is a blessing and a curse because it allows us to be connected and caught up with other people, but only through the moments of their life that they’re willing to share. I'll be the first to admit that I like to keep my social media presence in such a way where my life appears to be more put together than it really is. I could be having the worst day of my life, but still be posting photos and highlights from that day for one reason or another. Would someone look at my posts and think I was having a terrible day? Of course not! But thats the point. Just because someone looks like they have everything put together, doesn't mean they really do.
People like to tell me I'm dramatic, and maybe they're right, but doesn't everyone have the right to be a little annoyed or frustrated when things aren't going their way? I'd like to think so. Anyone who knows me knows I'm a social girl. I love spending time with friends, traveling, and making as many memories as possible. When I decided on moving back to Seattle this last fall I knew I'd be closer to family, but further away from friends, which would be a new challenge for me. I found that if I could plan events and trips in advance I could still have something to look forward to, and be excited about. Within the first month of my move I already had two events planned, and I was feeling super excited. I'd be going to a concert to see my favorite band with my cousin that December, and a vacation to Vegas with my best friends for another concert this March.
I started my new job which gave me the social interaction I needed, but then just weeks later, my life quickly got turned around. I found myself in the hospital after slipping on ice, and was told I had a severe concussion and needed to rest for at least a week. The only thing I was thinking about was the concert I'd be seeing just two days later with my cousin that had already been planned months prior. I kept thinking to myself how bad it would be if I just went anyway, but I knew deep down I wouldn't be able to. Not being able to go wasn't the end of the world, but it did make me sad that I couldn't enjoy something I'd been looking forward to. Fast forward to just one month later, and I'm found yet again in a hospital bed, but this time in much worse condition.
For those who don't know I lived in Hawaii about a year and a half ago, and decided to go cliff jumping one night in the dark. I injured my foot so bad I actually flew back to the mainland to see a foot specialist only days later. Thankfully I had only had torn muscles, but I didn't know at the time I had also injured my back during that jump, and would be paying the price almost a year later.
Something I've now learned about back injuries is that they progressively worsen over time if not treated, and they don't always present themselves right away. For the last year or so I've complained about my back hurting almost everyday but not to the point where I couldn't function. When I slipped on the ice my back pain did worsen and it was difficult to walk for a few days, but at that time I didn't know what I was dealing with. Fast forward to me back in the hospital bed, unable to walk on my own and in severe pain. I had no idea what was to come, I just knew my back hurt so bad. Since that second hospital visit in January I was placed on disability from my job, and in the coming weeks saw more doctors than anymore should in a lifetime. Turns out trying to find the right specialist and being able to order all the imaging needed isn't as easy as it should be. After over a month of the unknown and still not being able to walk more than 50 feet, I was able to find a great back and spine specialist and was able to order an MRI in hopes of getting some answers. At this point its now February, and all I'm thinking about it how I'll be getting myself to Vegas in March for my trip. I think I was a little delusional at the time because while I was on bedrest, I was actively ordering clothes for my upcoming vacation just one month away. I know it sounds silly, but I truly needed something to look forward to, since I'd been separated from my friends and basically all social interaction for months and didn't want another thing being taken away from me. As I was waiting for the MRI results I was praying it wouldn't show anything too serious, and if anything, it would be something that could fixed through physical therapy or could get better on its own.
All I wanted was to get back to work, start feeling like myself again, and continue on with my life without any more interruptions. When I met with my specialist and heard my MRI results my heart sank. My specialist got quiet and I immediately felt scared for the first time. This specific doctor is someone who specializes in non surgical rehabilitation, so in the back of my mind I was thinking if it was something bad I wouldn't go down the route of surgery, and could still carry on with my life, and go to Vegas like planned. This wasn't the news I got. She told me I have a large severely ruptured disc in my lower back, and that she was putting an urgent referral in for me to meet with a neurosurgeon, because my injury wouldn't be fixable any other way. I could tell it was serious because her whole demeanor changed. She was showing me photos, and talking about different surgeons, while the whole time I was just trying not to cry. I was yet again told to refrain from work, and do very minimal things in my day to day. After that meeting ended I was in such shock I didn't know how to process anything. Only 30 minutes later I got a call the neurosurgeons office and was able to schedule an appointment at their earliest convenience due to the urgency of my doctors referral. This appointment was still almost three weeks out.
I kept doing the math in my head and I knew my Vegas trip was no more, and all the expectations I had put on it were falling apart in front of my eyes. If you know me you also know I'm no stranger to medical issues. I've had surgery on my ovaries, my arm, both of my feet, and my throat, so it wasn't the fact that I needed surgery that made me feel so shattered, but that fact that yet again another thing was preventing me from living my life. I'd only been living back in Seattle 4 months, and 3 of those months were already filled with medical issues, and my life being put on hold once again.
It's now March and I'm still in the same boat. I can't work, I can't travel, I can't even walk to the mailbox without pain so bad I just cry. I'm meeting with my surgeon next week, and from there I'll get a clearer timeline of what this surgery will look like, when it'll be, and most importantly when I'll be able to feel normal again.
I know my back injury isn't anything compared to the other trials and burdens millions of people face everyday, but to me it is something. To me it changes everything. When you're unable to do the things you wanna do, it naturally makes you jealous of those who can do those things. I'm not making money right now, I don't have any of my close friends around, I can't just get up and go somewhere, and it's honestly made me feel really stuck. Having all this time on my hands has really made me think about my life and I started to notice how negative I was becoming. I was looking at the lives of others and became jealous of all the things they've been able to do and accomplish, that I haven't.
I needed something to distract myself with from feeling so sad all the time so I've started baking. On the days where my back would allow I'd get myself into the kitchen, pull up a chair and create something. Bread has captured my heart, and the art to baking all kinds of bread has really been my passion since I felt like it was the one thing I could control and do for myself. As I've been posting my baking online I started to get messages from people, and one in particular has changed my perspective completely.
I got a message that read "I'm so jealous of people like you, I've never been good at baking". I couldn’t believe what I was reading since I had convinced myself my life wasn't anything to be desired. It was then when I realized that sometimes while we're so focused on someone else's life and everything they seem to have, someone else just might be looking at YOUR life and doing the very same thing.
We as humans all face our own defeats, heartache, and battles but we wouldn't be able to appreciate the joy, happiness, and love to the fullest if we didn't have both. No two lives will ever look the same, and thats the beauty of life. If everyone did all the same things, went on the same trips, ate the same food, had the same hobbies, and had the same life then nothing you did would be significant or special for you. Trust me, this doesn't mean its not still annoying when you feel restricted, or unable to do something you really wanna do, but having this new perspective really has helped me recently.
I now look at the phrase "Thats just life" differently than I once did. Life does throw unexpected curveballs at us, but when it does we shouldn't allow an uncontrollable situation to control us. My life isn't perfect, but it is MY LIFE. Your life isn't perfect, but it is YOUR LIFE.
Lets enjoy them a little more.