Let’s get real

Let’s get real

How many tragedies do we need to see before we start getting real? How many celebrity suicides, brutal public divorces, and rehab stays must we witness before we start to throw a hand up & yell “Help!” when things aren’t going right?

We are living in a comparison society, where others seem to be living the perfect life, while the blemishes of our own life sometimes feel never-ending. Two reasons for this way of thinking….social media, and the lack of talking to one another about things that matter.

For most, social media is a “highlight reel,” where we share only the best things that happen to us, while hiding away our challenges & problems. For me, I choose to keep my social media posts positive & uplifting (I haven’t always been that way, especially during the darker seasons in my life). That does not, however, mean I am without challenge, or that I hide my troubles away. Some might think so, and that is exactly the point I want to emphasize. NONE of us are free from trouble. ALL of us face challenges, uncertainties, and inequities. Yet, very few talk about it. It’s time we start.

We tend to shout from the rooftop about the major catastrophic events that happen in our lives. The death of a loved one, the nasty divorce, the deception, the infidelity — most people know all about those type of things happening to you. They rally around you, and put up with your rants. They tell you “everything happens for a reason,” and that “what lies ahead is far greater than anything you leave behind.” You’re good, at least for a while, and your supporters and cheerleaders fade back into the shadows.

At some point, you face another challenge in life…and another….and another. Some challenges don’t seem quite a daunting as the huge ones you previously faced, so you keep them to yourself. Yet, sometimes those smaller challenges can be scary. Sometimes they compound, or come at a time when you aren’t able to face them from a position of strength. Sometimes you wonder how to get through?

When these challenges happen, do you keep it to yourself and hold in your fears? Do you ask for help or guidance, or do you tuck it all away & keep on with the “everything is great!” act?

The suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain this month have made me really start to think. How many people hold it all in?

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Did either of them know that problems are temporary? Or, did they simply feel they did not have a safe place to turn? I didn’t know either of them personally, and cannot begin to know what they were facing, so I have no right to speculate. I do, however, want to ensure everyone I encounter understands the importance of having “your people”…and develops the strength they need to lean on that tribe of people when times call for it.

Those close to me will tell you I am pretty self-aware. I have shortcomings, fears and some pretty solid anger issues. I am far from perfect…..and, I am focused on working to build a better me! My tribe is there to call me out when I get out of line, and to hold me accountable to doing what I say I will do to improve myself. They are also there to listen & wipe away the tears. When I fall down, they dust me off, pat me on the back, and push me right back out there to tackle the world.

I wonder if Spade and Bourdain had the same type of tribe? Did they let those closest to them know what they were afraid of? The demons they were facing?

There are things we face in life that seem, at the time, like the end of the world. We may face scary, sometimes life-altering challenges. When those things happen, work to keep a positive outlook, but please, please know you are not alone, and that it is MORE THAN okay to reach out for help or guidance.

How do we do this?

When you’re feeling strong…..

Find your people. Share your joys and your challenges with them….and always, always keep them in the loop! Reach out when you need help, need to vent, or simply need a good old fashioned hug. Most importantly, be that person for them! You need to build, know & trust your tribe long before you ever have to call on them to help you through the tough times!

When you “Can’t even….”

Some days just suck! When they do, and when you feel yourself start to roll downhill right into the pity party, pick up the phone. Use a lifeline, phone a friend, and get it all out. From experience, I will tell you that sitting on negative thoughts or experiences tend to only make them fester. BONUS: if you’ve got a strong tribe, and have historically shared openly with them, they will notice when you aren’t quite “you,” and will make the phone call before you do.

Which brings me to my most important point:

Be there for others….

Not everyone can or will reach out when they need help. Frequently a well meaning “I am here if you need me” falls on ears that are unable to hear. Or, you may be telling this to someone who doesn’t have the energy to tell you what it is they need. For that person, show up, be there — do more that just “tell” them you will be there. Even if you never say a word. Sometimes the simple act of showing up goes a long way.

ABOVE ALL….let’s keep the conversation going about the fears & challenges we face, knowing that facing them together is way, way better than going it alone.

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