My mom would talk about "keeping up with the Joneses", knowing that it was impossible and deadly to even think about it. I believe she spent a lot of the first years of her marriage with young children in our little Southern California neighborhood trying to be just like everyone else. She pretended or tried really hard for a long time. By the time I came along that was unraveling pretty quickly. You can only keep a charade up for so long and the danger signs were sounding off at every right turn.
Plus, who was she even trying to keep up with? Our neighbor across the street who was totally addicted to tennis and the sun; so much that she looked like a baked piece of leather? The woman who fanatically picked weeds out of her lawn every Saturday by hand? The lady across the street who was agoraphobic? The family around the corner who's son burned down their garage? The next door neighbor who's hobby was raising worms? The woman who had six kids but ran off to live with her lesbian lover? Who exactly was she trying to keep up with.
Granted, all of that above came out 12 years after she moved into the stucco neighborhood with the 3 floor-plan homes, and miniature lawns. I'm sure when they moved into this brand new subdivision everyone was at their perky best. It was the late 50's and everyone was gung ho. I didn't come around unitl 1969 and by then all the gung ho was long gone.
So, I know better. I know that the image that they have at the curb isn't what is happening behind the thin poorly insulated walls of a suburban track home. People put the shiny on to show the world just how normal they really are; even when they are so far from normal that they can't even see the horizon.
For the last month or so I have been mostly stuck at home due to weather. Snow, ice, rain, etc. We were walloped pretty hard and are super cautious about getting out and about with our lack of weather driving skills. Plus, one of the benefits of living remotely is to take advantage of these serene weather days. To huddle at home and just do your own thing.
Which normally I do, but this time I got sucked into the shiny lives of others online. Everyone was having amazing times, doing amazing things, planning amazing life changing events, traveling, eating, playing, happy, happy, happy and I started to feel less and less happy with the cozy little life I have built for us.
Not only did I not feel happy but I was wallowing in my unhappy. I was frozen from doing anything that I liked to do. To stunned by my own lack of life.
A study from Carnegie Mellon states: "the more people used the Web, the lonelier and more depressed they felt." via Forbes
A new University of Michigan study on college-aged adults finds that the more they used Facebook, the worse they felt. via NPR
And a study from Germany points out that So far, it seems that the positive effects of being socially connected supersede the negative consequences of feeling inferior or left out by your circle of friends. via Time Magazine
The cure. Stop looking and fall back in love with my own life. My life really is amazing; I just need to go live it. That is how I am going to live this year!