I read an article at the gym last week (how I manage to squeeze time in to get there each day is BEYOND me) talking about how women in their early 20s to mid 30s have the highest depression rate ever. Why? Well apparently the same perfectionist devil that sits atop both my shoulders sits upon those of my peers. The article went on to explain that women nowadays, specifically in this age range feel a need to do it all, have it all and be great at it all and it got me to thinking; how could we not feel that way? In general the message society sends to women is this; be an independent career woman but also be an earthy goddess dream mother who’s body bounces back days after birth and somehow manage to do all of this simultaneously and perfectly. What’s worse? We expect this of ourselves often comparing our lives to the airbrushed “prettier” versions we see our friends living on social media and because of all of this we’re constantly living in a place of disappointment because we’re not achieving everything we think we should be, and honestly how can we? We’re only human and yet we’re holding ourselves to superhero standards.
The article hit a nerve in me, shook me up, opened my eyes because I am one of those women. Often spinning down into a dark hole of self doubt and judgment in vicious cycles, this article touched me because I’ve been feeling myself cycle down that dark rabbit hole lately. Here is what a day in my head sounds like;
“You need to get up and go to the gym before your part time job so while you’re there you feel like you’ve done something productive. Make sure to get a sketch done today. CRAP I forgot to practice illustrating on my Wacom tablet. How am I ever going to illustrate a book? Submit to acting breakdowns. I need new head shots. I also need more foundation for my makeup kit. Send that invoice. Juggle bills. Eat something. More coffee. Go over your scene. Do I pay for headshots or make-up? I need sleep….I’ll work later….I’ll just watch one show, dammit now it’s been three hours….oh well there is always tomorrow.”
I’m realizing that I have so many different creative endeavors most of which require all my time that when I don’t feel like I’m succeeding in one than that trickles over into the others until I would rather do anything else than focus on them. It’s like when you say you want something and then you’re given it you start second guessing if you really do want it. I call this creative betrayal – the moment when you forget that everything that’s making you depressed is also what makes you the happiest.
I think so many of us women expect to be great at everything all the time so intensely that we lose focus. If we all looked at our lives and our “problems” from an outside perspective nothing ever seems that bad. I’m going to the dark side because a sketch didn’t turn out as good as I wanted it to? So what! There’s more paper, do it again! I’m stressed because I get so many make-up jobs it’s hard to keep my kit stocked? Um… most would call that lucky. I need new headshots? That’s a necessary part of the industry and dream I’m choosing to partake in, everyone deals with it, suck it up. Take a freaking breath Malia!
You’re not perfect. You will never do something perfectly. There is no way to judge perfection. In a world where everyone is going to have an opinion on what you do it’s simply impossible. This is why all us women need to give ourselves a break. I guarantee for everything you think you mess up there is someone else looking at your life on social media wishing they were doing what you were doing. We can only do the best we can, we can strive to be better but for the sake of our sanity we need to let go of this mythical ideal that is perfection. I’m working on climbing out of my hole, giving myself a big hug and reconnecting with my creativity in a positive way. I will no longer willing let my passions turn against me.
In your darkest of moments, in your deepest of holes, remember this; that darkness is only as real as you imagine it to be, its power over you is only as strong as you allow, and at any given time you can imagine a ladder that is just as real as that hole, and climb yourself out and into the light.
Be kind to yourself.