As a therapist, I often hear my patients share similar feelings about the frustration they feel in their respective challenges. A common sentiment is, “overall, my life is going well and anyone would look at me on the outside and think I’m good, but they have no clue how much I am struggling day-to-day.”
The idea that outsides and insides always match is a natural assumption; it’s easy to look at others, especially through the social media lens, and think that they have it all together, all the way, all the time. But it can breed isolation, jealousy, loneliness, discontentment, and just feeling like you’re really far from normal. And feeling like you’re not normal is profoundly painful, no matter how old, attractive, accomplished, popular, or successful you may be.
If you ever watch a swan glide in water, it seems so smooth and effortless. But if you look underwater, you’ll see the legs moving, doing the work. When we look at other people, it’s easy to see their lives as easy and effortless, but it’s because we often don’t know what happening underwater. The more we accept this—that everyone struggles to get around in life and has moments where the current feels difficult to withstand- the less shame we feel in our challenges and the need to reach out for help.