Let’s get real

I’m tired of reading about people who have beaten their demons.

We get a story written about us in a newspaper or on a website?when the story is along the lines of: “how I beat depression”, followed by a saga of how shitty we used to feel, until we discovered xyz, and now look at us, we’re great! And Happy! And here’s five tips you can take away if you want to be like us.

“I used to be fat and unhappy, until I lost weight and now people want to hear my story because I finally fit the image of what society says I should look like!”

“I used to be sad and cry all the time until I started exercising and now it’s worth talking about me because I’m a well adjusted professional functioning as society says I should!”

“I used to work in a corporate soul sucking job until I started my own business and now it’s worth writing a story about me because I’m really attractive and happy and rich! I’m successful, just how society says I should be!”

The message we get from this? My story is only valid when I’ve dropped my baggage and imperfections, and achieved success.

I want to see more stories about the people in the trenches. The people who are living with being obese, and how that is for them. The people who are living with difficult emotions, and what its like trying to go through life with that. The people who are still stuck in the jobs they don’t really like, and how that affects them in their day to day.

But that wouldn’t be inspiring, would it. That wouldn’t be click bait-y enough to get published – “I used to be overweight and I still am.” “I was depressed, until for a while?I thought I wasn’t, then I realised I still was.” “I was working in a corporate, soul sucking job, until I quit and got a different, soul sucking job.”

But you know what that would be? Real. People are already commenting?on how social media presents an unrealistic image that we all compare ourselves to, by only sharing our happy photos and brag worthy status updates. But it’s not just social media. It’s all media. You are story-worthy once you’ve gotten over your shitty past, achieved something great, and shed your imperfections along the way.

I saw a story recently about a person who used to have depression, until?she ‘beat’ depression, and now she sits on various boards of influence and has started a not-for-profit to help others who are like she used to be. Which is awesome, we need more of that. But when I’m feeling down, it’s also just another way that triggers me to think that I’ve failed. That I wont be good enough until I can fix myself from being the way I am, and become something great; some Louise 2.0, which is all the great, funny, compassionate, likeable parts of me, without the tired, irritable, depressed, achey parts of me. The Louise who starts meaningful businesses with purpose, who makes a difference to peoples’ lives, who tells her story of how I ‘used to be’ and how different that is from how I am now.

But what if it’s not so different? What if I’m still dealing with a bunch of the same stuff??

A person called me the other day, wanting to work with me. She told me she resonated with what I’d written about my story, about using movement as a tool to improve my mood, about the struggle with apathy and hateful self-talk. She told me that I seem “perfect”. That I seem to have figured it out and she wants to be like me. I literally burst into laughter. And I told her that I still deal with those things, I still find myself thinking from time to time, that I’m a piece of shit. She was surprised. I told her, the thing that has changed is that I don’t necessarily believe it straight away now. I question it. (Sometimes – sometimes I fall straight back down the rabbit hole). I’m not saying that this is all there is to hope for, that one day I might be able to get to a point where I don’t ever have the thought that I’m a piece of shit anymore, but for now, I’m still right down in the shit with everyone else.

And I feel sad to think that people might read my story and think that I’ve passed through the storm, that I’ve made it to the tropical island and I live in peace and happiness. Because the reality is that I am still on the boat, and ride out storms with frustrating regularity. I’m tired of reading about other people hanging out on that island, drinking cocktails seemingly without a care in the world, because I can’t relate. I want to read more about the other people who are on a solo mission around the world, weathering storms, icebergs, ripped sails and giant whales. The other people who are feeling?the grit and the rawness of life. Who also, incidentally, get to see some pretty amazing rainbows out there on the ocean.

PS – where did that sailing/ocean metaphor pop up from? I don’t know.