Up until one Monday morning, who would have looked at Anna Faris and Chris Pratt and said that their relationship is absolutely perfect? I know I would have. They seemed a great fit for each other, and their marriage seemed like it was full of laughter.
Yet, it’s not to be.
Who looked at Ant & Dec and thought that they seemed extremely happy; nothing could possibly be the matter?
Yet we now know the demons Ant battles.
These are just two examples picked straight from the pages of Hello!. But to me, they are a very poignant reminder on how you can never a judge a book by its cover.
We all know of and recognise the Instagram effect. We share a picture-perfect view of our lives with the world, whilst behind the lens, chaos ensues. We clean up a corner of our Ikea glossy tables in order to make up the perfect flatlay, whilst our beds are covered in all the junk normally adorning our workspace.
No? Just me? On the other side, us, the ones who take a hundred selfies just to share one, look at the lives of others and feel a soul-destroying envy. We see perfect families, perfect homes, fancy cars and great careers. We feel completely inferior to the picture portrayed to us. In that moment, we forget that everyone else, just like us, curates their lives. We only see the top of the iceberg, whilst all the stuff below the waterline can be just as chaotic as our lives.
I used to envy a co-worker of mine. Not in a way where I was truly jealous and turned to ugly emotions, not a chance. She is an absolute delight. She is one of the sweetest people I have ever met, and I don’t think I have ever heard her say a truly bad word about anyone. She will try to help everyone up to the best of her abilities, and she’s a hard worker to the core. She didn’t need to wear makeup to have perfect skin, and I always looked at her curly hair at envy. At 27 at the time, three years younger than me, she had ‘senior’ in her job title, made a good 20k more than me, owned her own property and a rental property, and had just bought a brand-new high-spec car. And I couldn’t help feeling envy. She was already qualified and had achieved so much in her life. And here I was, just plodding along, desperately trying to keep my head above water.
It wasn’t until the veil was lifted a bit until I started to really see that there are always trade-offs. She had worked her butt off for a few years to go through her professional exams, during which she had little to no social life. Up until this particular job, she had been on less money than I was, yet had more responsibilities. She used to suffer from bad acne until she got a good routine going, and she had saved and saved and saved to be able to buy her properties. Meanwhile, I had been concentrating on having a raucous social life, had saved up for my wedding, and had worked my way up from a few setbacks in my career. Would I want to be in the place she was? Of course. Would I trade my experience of life for hers? Not a chance. She is still one of the most beautiful people I know, inside and out, but I would not trade places. I would not trade my history with hers, or my life with hers. Just because our priorities and approaches in life are different, doesn’t mean that either is worse than the other; they’re just different.
In my co-worker’s case, the tip of the iceberg was all these material things, but below the surface, there was a lot of sacrifices, self-doubt and choices different to those I would have made.
With Chris Pratt & Anna Faris, as they are a couple that is in the public eye, their every move is being monitored by someone. It must be incredibly hard trying to save your marriage whilst you’ve got thousands of pairs of eyes boring holes in your backs, and the constant lack of privacy when you need it the most must be infuriating. Nobody wants their issues being dragged out through the mud and over the hill. So they went on, presenting us regular folk with the image of couple perfection. They continued complementing each other in public, making appearances together, smiling as if nothing was wrong and we believed it. In fact, we lapped it up. And we maybe looked at our relationships and thought “why can’t our be like their”. It must be so much easier to portray one image to the public so we don’t ask questions, so that in the background, like ducks, they can desperately pedal.
We see this certain public image, carefully curated for publication and we look at it and compare our own lives to it. Of course, real life is always going to lose that competition. Real life isn’t a dreamland where people constantly wear makeup and photoshop cures all imperfections. Real life is dirty, it’s hard and there are going to be obstacles on the way. Learn to deal with those obstacles and learn to appreciate the positive things that are actually in your life; it’s the only way to happiness.
How curated is your life?