Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I'm Getting off This "Positivity" Train


© Zzzdim | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images
Seriously. Who has time to hang out in fields all the time?

If you're on Facebook, Twitter or pretty much any form of social media, I'm sure you've been exposed to what I like to refer to as the "Pressure to be Positive" movement. You'll find quotes that haven't been attributed correctly pasted in some catchy, curly font over a heavily filtered photo that looks so creamy and dreamy, you'll peruse the writings of self appointed "life coaches" telling you "Look at how awesome my life is! I work 1 hour a day in my pajamas, I live in a foreign paradise and my hair always looks amazing! Let me tell you how to lead the perfect life." - often times while you're sitting on your computer at your desk in your cubicle at an alright, but not exactly dream material, job. Or while your kids are wailing, the dishes in the sink are menacing you with the threat of tipping over and shattering, the dog is shitting liquid on the carpet... those moments that make you feel so much the opposite of the woman in those pictures. The ones that make you go, in a moment of exasperation, "Ugh! I hate my life!" I know we've all been there, with our Charlie Brown-esq exclamation of "Arrrg!" and fist balled and shaking towards the sky.

Well, I'm jumping off that "positivity" train. Because I don't really find it to be all that positive.

Positivity blogs, prompts, images, etc. lead to comparisons between our own lives and the seemingly idyllic lives of the writers. They write and tell us to “quit our day job”, “pack a backpack, sell all your shit and globetrot!”, “build your dream home! Who cares how much it costs?” or “make every single moment special.” Most of these, for most of the people I know, just aren’t possible and maybe never have been possible. There are bills to pay, families to raise, work to do, a house to take care of… reasons some of these writers would tell you are inconsequential and are standing in the way of leading your perfect creamy, dreamy (look at that soft focus on all her pictures!) life.

And seriously; EVERY SINGLE MOMENT? No pressure, guys.

I’ve found that reading these writings tend to make me, well, miserable. As I sit at my desk in the office ,with my little potted cactus in the single window behind me, working to pay for my house reading about how “if you aren’t living your wildest dreams you're doing life wrong” makes me feel trapped and ill. It leads me to feel dissatisfied with a life that I know, deep down in my heart, is absolutely as idyllic as I could have dreamed. My family and friends are amazing, I’m surrounded by love, I have a home that I am so proud of and love spending time in, I have time to paint and laugh and do the things that fill my heart with happiness and I have a husband who loves me more than I even feel that I deserve to be loved, more than I ever believed was possible. I have a true partner, true support and more laughter and people in my life than I sometimes can handle.

Yet, am I making this moment, right here at the computer reading this email at work count? No. But do you know why? Because your syrup coated email that reads “you aren’t living up to your life’s potential” is fucking giving me anxiety. Your email makes me wonder, just for a moment, if having a home, a relationship and one day a child will all just be pointless endeavors and roadblocks keeping me from living my SUPER FANTASTIC AMAZEBALLS ALL 86,400 SECONDS IN THE DAY ARE SUPER DUPER SPECIAL life.

So, no. This moment doesn’t count, because I’m content and dare I say, happy, with the life that I have and you’ve managed to steal that away from me for just a moment. So I’m changing something to remedy that; I'm unsubscribing from everything you write and every place I follow you.

I'm unsubscribing in defense of the pleasantries of a normal life. In defense of a simple home in a simple area. In defense of relationships, friends and babies. In defense of the contentedness found in everyday rituals and practices. In defense of rolling with the shitty moments. In defense of contentment and happiness being more than enough; being, in fact, perfect.

Because while I don’t think positivity is a bad thing (in fact, it’s something I’m inviting in to my life along with gratitude), your approach to it is annoying at best and condescending at worst.

And ain’t nobody got time for that in their already fabulous (even if they don’t know it yet) life.



P.S. I'm not knocking all people who write advice or positivity blogs or articles. Some of them are very, very good and filled with reasonable advice. It's the ones that make you feel shitty about your life that I take issue with. So keep on writing, friends!

21 comments:

  1. After I read this sample quote, I was overcome with laughter and nearly choked. "Look at how awesome my life is! I work 1 hour a day in my pajamas, I live in a foreign paradise and my hair always looks amazing! Let me tell you how to lead the perfect life."

    Then I realized that my hair looks like crap after I finished dusting. I'm taking a shower, then a nap and then I'll be back to read...

    Stay positive *wicked grin*

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    1. Get thee to the shower, Witch! No imperfect hair on my blog! *wicked cackle* ;)

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  2. Right on!! :) oops I mean :(.

    Thank you for writing this.

    I can completely relate to what you wrote, and I had to leave FB for the same reason and more - because I knew that most of it was complete BS. I knew/know these people and most of what they wrote about their life was a fantasy. Now, what you just did - described your "less than perfect" life and then told us why you thought it was perfect is what I believe we all should strive for. Sometimes we just have to accept what we have and look at any positive side of it we can. And if reading other people's fantasy tales about their ideal life makes us feel inadequate then we should stop reading it, or get off social media, because we should be spending our time doing much more meaningful, enjoyable stuff anyway.

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    1. Ah, the social media black hole. Like most 30 somethings, I remember a time before the internet, but only vaguely. I'm working on detaching myself from the vortex of technology and its way of distracting us from things that really count. Of course, I enjoy the social interactions it affords me and the ease of sharing ideas, so I won't be giving it up entirely, but moderation is key. As it is in most things. ;-)

      Rather than reading about living, I plan to simply live.

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  3. In a cyber world that is filled with simply "liking" things....I yearn for a "shit no" button as well. Does that count as preaching positivity.....gawd I hope so. Oma's not happy today.

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    1. You know Oma, it *could* be positive, if you're saying "shit no" to someone who's wallowing in a black hole or the "oh woe is me" party.

      And if it's not positive, it's at least realistic. And I can respect and appreciate that! Hope you're feeling better today. xox *squoozes*

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  4. Totally agree! I also refuse to 'post this if you really care" on facebook. My facebook page is my page and I'll put what I want on it. I care a hell of a lot for veterans, abused children and animals, the environment etc...and I don't have to post shit on fb to prove that I care!

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    1. Ditto, Joane! That drives me crazy too.

      Thank you for stopping by!

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  5. I laughed out loud when you realistically pointed out some of the threats to our constant positivity, especially when it came to what the dog was doing on the carpet. I think that there are sometimes rough spots in real life, and sometimes our lives are a lot more "real" than the positivity experts report theirs to be. Maybe it is time that someone calls BS on some of the give-a-show positivity. Or is that too negative to write?

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    1. Can you tell my dog was having...instestinal issues... this week? lol. I don't think it's negative at all to expect people to be honest with their writings. I respect people who write about life with integrity, showing that it's not always sunshine and rainbows.

      Because sometimes bad things happen. And that's how we get to truly appreciate the good things. :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. I agree with you completely - I am, sadly, one of those people whom sit there and shake their fists at the sky from time to time after reading a blog or two that is anything less this PERFECTION. I sit and wonder how their lives could be so..Storybook? When I am sitting here in a small house in California, trying to figure out how I am going to pay for my wedding AND finish my college degree with maintaining a social life that has never gone well for me when it comes to keeping friends around. But...I Love my life and I wouldn't trade it for the world, so when those ever so "perfect" posts come about I just stare at my screen and think WHYY!!

    I do have to admit..I am, from time to time, one of those "advicy" writers but it's not about 'How to make your life just as perfect as mine'...Within the last 2 years, I have learned alot about the people around me..and because of those people, not always good people, I have learned alot about myself. So I created a series called "Happiness: Growning and Regaining" but my posts were anything but "I'm Perfect"...they were abotu the struggles and over coming the struggles..what I have learned about life, myself, and my interactions..but nothing more. I am Raw and open when I write...I don't expect people to think I am rich with knowledge or perfection..because that would be shitty..because I know I'm not full of wisdom or perfect.


    Thanks for this post. :)

    -Ashlee Michelle

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    1. Those are the sorts of articles and series that I enjoy reading; the ones that comes from real experience and don't claim to be experts or perfect. I like my positivity and advice to be tinged with realism rather than fantasy. :)

      Thank you so much for stopping by and for sharing!

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  7. Excellent blog post! Thanks for this!

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    1. Thank you, Vivienne! Glad you enjoyed it. :)

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  8. Great post! People who write tomes on 'positivity' have never had to endure 'real life'! IMO While many people say I have a Pollyanna attitude, I have to admit that those very same people don't see me saying how life sucks at times. But one needs to have a positive attitude or the dark depths of despair can swallow you up.
    To me those that 'preach' positivity are no better than the missionaries that go door-to-door selling their religion to the masses.

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  9. ABSOLUTELY!! Thank you so much for this.

    People need to understand that the "perfect life" doesn't exist in those posts or pictures. The "perfect life" is perfectly horrible at times, and at others it's like watching the universe be born. Magical and amazing in all of its IMPERFECTION. If you don't learn to see the joy and "perfection" in your every day life, you'll end up miserably chasing a dream that doesn't exist.

    Embrace the beauty in the chaos and enjoy the life you have before it's gone.

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  10. What a refreshing post! I get enough of that 'smile and be happy' crap at work...with the innuendo of punishment to come if you are obedient. I don't need it online too! Definitely going to share this...and thanks...I agree!!!

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  11. Congratulations, Danni!!! But... really what I believe you are taking a stand against is plain and simple: BULLSHIT. In fact, I am working on a writing project about standing up against another kind of BULLSHIT related to business owners and the same kind of thing.

    I have found more riches in the dark, that ever in the light...

    Thanks for speaking up and standing up!

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  12. I don't mind people telling me about their struggles and what they did to rise above them. Those are things I can relate to. What I do mind, like you, are the people who try to project that they are flawless and that I am not trying hard enough. These are the same people who want an arm and a leg to "help" you get that same happiness glow. I am not against making a buck, but geez, do you have to make me feel so inferior so you can have your quarterly earnings go way up!

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  13. I had a good laugh about the reading while the kids are wailling part.....My pinterest was once flowded with those meaningless image, thinking, surely the girl that made that didn't got up at 6 o'clock this morning because her BF had the wake up or he'd be stuck in the traffic jam, waking up your 3yr old that just can't be left alone in the house, taking with you the 3mo old baby that's awake now, trying not to wake up the older child. Oh wait- I have to leave this comment because said 3yr old is trying to change the baby's diapper that is full of shit.

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    1. Well, that to say... I don't feel bad for not feeling extatic all the time...I strive for BALANCE, and this mean having shitty moment as well in my day. And see, while changing the baby's pyj (because it really got full of shit...) my 3yr old made the baby laugh! And I'm happy with that.... At not being happy ALL the time!

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