Last week I wrote about my apparent naivety. Many people I meet think I must not have seen anything of life or any real struggle. It's true that many people have been through much worse than me, and also that I have been granted many, many blessings. But I also witnessed physical abuse, drug and alcohol use and police visits to my home, all before the age of 10. I have lived in council housing. I have lost my mum. And I have no relationship to speak of with my only sibling.
So why is it that so many people think my life is perfect?
Well, I suppose I pretend it is. I'm not quite sure why I do it. I always felt really misunderstood growing up, and really frustrated at the people who thought I had the perfect nuclear family and the perfect day-to-day existence. Yet, I let them believe it. I never clarified a thing. I hate explaining myself to people, but I want them to somehow just get it, know me, understand. Ridiculous, I know.
Maybe part of it comes from being told that some things are no one's business, which I suppose is true enough. There is such a thing as being too open and airing your dirty, sometimes filthy, laundry to the world is probably not the look you're going for.
But let's be honest, no one likes perfect people. We can't relate to them. And not to worry, they don't actually exist. No one's life is perfect. While I'm beginning to learn that being so private about so much both protects and alienates me simultaneously, I shouldn't have to expose my every wound just for people to know that by the age of 30, I've probably gone through something or the other that was difficult.
To a 10-year-old, I'm old, maybe experienced, wise. To a 60-year-old, I'm young, naive and a bit of a head-strong fool. In truth, I'm sure I'm a little bit of all of those things. But every person, no matter their age, struggles. And however small or big it is to the person standing next to them, it's real for the person going through it and it's hard.
So, I speak as much to myself as I do to anyone reading this post when I say, cut yourself a little slack - and your neighbour too. We're all on the same grind. It ain't ever easy, but a bit of compassion (and common sense) can go a long way.