Earlier this week I ate a bar of milk chocolate. Given that I’m lactose intolerant that’s never the best idea for me, but when I go on to explain that this was a 100g bar of chocolate, it becomes even less of a good idea.
Because for all I’ve come a long long way from that unhappy girl who had little respect for herself and felt completely powerless in her own life, every now and again I still do think I know I shouldn’t.
Why? Because I’m only human.
And so are you, and that’s OK.
Looking at Instagram and Facebook you’d be forgiven for thinking that some people out there actually aren’t human; their feeds tend to be a stream of perfect photos of their perfect lives in their perfect homes where everyone is always smiling and the sun is always shining. Which is fine, because that’s exactly what real life is like isn’t it?
Err… no. Of course not! OK, it may be real in that moment, but no one moment encapsulates an entire life. Let’s be honest, even the photos that are #nofilter are still pretty damned filtered.
You see as I see it, all this trend does is give us something else to beat ourselves up about. And come on, if there’s one thing that all of us – we women especially – are already more than good enough at it’s focusing on our flaws and beating ourselves up for them.
So now thanks to the cult of perfection we get to beat ourselves up over our rainy days, arguments, laughter lines and day job as well as everything else that society already tells us we’re not doing well enough. Not content with failing to measure up to society’s unrealistic idea of perfect, we now have to compare our unfiltered lives to the individually wonderful moments everyone else chooses to share online.
You know, if we were to glimpse behind the lens of the iPhone camera we’d undoubtedly see a life that was just as full of mistakes, silliness and the odd row as ours from even the most perfect of Instagrammer. And while I’m not suggesting that’s something we should celebrate, I think it’s about time that all of us stopped being ashamed of it.
Why be angry? Why beat ourselves up? Yes we screw up, but so does everyone. And in actual fact even the people and situations that are perfect for us will still have their challenges – otherwise we’d never learn from them and never grow.
One argument, one night of drinking more than just “a couple of cocktails with your girls”, one lost job, or yes, one giant bar of Dairy Milk, doesn’t mean that we’ve failed at life, or that we’re awful people.
Instead they’re signs that we’re still human, that there’s still learning for us to do and healing for us to go through. And isn’t that what life is all about?
Whatever our #nofilter issues and experiences, they give us the opportunity to change, to heal, to redeem and to grow.
And if we're totally honest it's in those challenges, those mistakes and those less than perfect times that we do our greatest learning and undergo out biggest transformations.
Because for me, the choice not to do that, and the refusal to move forward, is the only thing that we ever need to give ourselves a stern talking to about. Not because it means that all is lost and we’ve somehow failed, but because it means it’s time for us to take a stand and make some changes.
Over on Instagram, I’m aiming for 100 days of honest photos… or at least honest stories to go along with the good ones. Check it out here and join me in your own #truthchallenge if you’d like to take a stand over this cult of inhuman perfection.