Newsflash: No One Actually Has It All Together

It’s a Sunday morning. You wake up, make some coffee and scroll through your Instagram feed to see what everyone was up to this weekend. You see a group of friends smiling and laughing at the beach, a couple getting engaged, a friend getting into medical school, someone getting a raise, your neighbors’ cute pictures with their puppy in the park... 

Art by Joanna Campbell

Art by Joanna Campbell

How does everyone do it? Are they really that happy all the time? Why does it feel like everyone is in a happy relationship, succeeding at their job, and balancing a million other things effortlessly? 

The truth is, behind glamorous cover photos and snapshots that highlight our best moments there is another story. Even the lucky few who do have it all figured out have struggles. No one breezes through life entirely effortlessly; we just make it look like we do. 

Social media makes our lives look glorious. If you think you’re the only one who doesn’t have it all together, ask yourself the last time you posted about being stood up on a date or staying in the office until 2 a.m. to finish a project. Do you post photos of yourself home alone when you don’t have plans? Well, neither does anyone else. Scrolling through social media profiles and Snapchat stories, it is easy to forget that other people have hard times too. 

Perhaps my friends and I are in the minority, but if you asked any of us, we would say we most certainly do not have it all figured out. Take my life for example—I am a senior in college, I study Spanish, and I am planning to go to medical school when I graduate. My life on paper looks pretty great. I know what I want to do and I appear to be on a good path towards achieving my life goals. Unfortunately, reality is not as easy. Keeping my grades up is a monumental task in and of itself, not to mention trying to work, volunteer, and have a social life on the side.

Stalk me on social media and you’ll see me at a cool concert, at the lake with my friends, or tailgating for a football game. Know me in real life and you’ll know I worked all night before the concert to be able to go, I went to the lake for one day over the course of the entire summer because I was busy working, and the football game was the only social thing I did last week. 

The reality is that most people’s lives don’t read like a highlight reel. We all have tough times; we just don’t post about them. No one does. 

Social media makes life hard. Any time you feel down all you have to do is pick up your phone to see 50 people who appear to be having a better time than you are right now. It is unbelievably easy to feel left out, but it isn’t healthy and social media does not tell the whole story. We know this, but we still can’t help but feel a little down on ourselves as we sit and scroll through other people’s successes.

Social media helps us create an illusion of ease and success so powerful that we fall for it even when we know it to be misleading. Perhaps we want the illusion to be true. We want to believe that someday we will be like those smiling profiles—radiant and happy and fulfilled and entirely carefree. Truthfully, I don’t know whether or not it is possible to have absolutely everything figured out in life and I am not sure I want it to be. Life can be hard, but it is getting through the tough times that makes the good times meaningful. If we truly had it all figured out early in life, wouldn’t we be bored? What would we have left to strive for? Maybe nobody has it all figured out and maybe that’s okay; maybe it’s even a good thing. 

The next time you catch yourself feeling glum as you scroll through endless photos of successful and happy looking people, remember two things. First, ask yourself if you really want all of the answers right now. Having it all figured out probably makes life smooth and greatly reduces stress, but it also makes it less exciting. Not knowing exactly where your life is going is liberating. You are free to make mistakes and experience new things and discover what it is that you are truly passionate about. 

Remember that these seemingly perfect people are just like you. They too have problems and bad days and do not have everything figured out. Take your newsfeed with a grain of salt because chances are, if I scroll through your profile, you look pretty happy and successful as well. Life is long and we learn as we go. Relish in every little victory and success you have and just enjoy life. You don’t need to have it all figured out.