I bought a house not too long ago, and I’ve found myself newly in charge of an entire property of various living and non-living beings that I have never been a sole provider for before. It all needs tended, and I’m trying hard to make it a place I’m proud of and happy to be in. Trees grow over houses when you don’t trim them, neighbors get upset when grass isn’t cared for and mowed.
Looking at someone’s yard isn’t an indication of their happiness though. I am greatly happy with my slightly longer grass and yard full of violets and dandelions and bunnies and squirrels and birds. The way I hear other grown ups talk about their lawn care makes me imagine they would be entirely distraught to inherit such a green space as mine.
They may look at me from the outside and think how unhappy I must be trying to mend my yard, or how lazy I must be that I’m not getting rid of the “weeds”. They may look at the exterior of my home and conclude a multitude of things about the way I live and the happiness I hold.
You can’t look at the exterior of a life and predict what dwells there. We sometimes fall into this trap, prescribing advice based on outsider views from first impressions, our own experiences, and information we gain from others or from social media.
The great things people see me share that cause occasional jealousy are certainly great things, but all they see is what I choose for them to see. Of course I choose the good.
Achievement has a long backstory of hard work and suffering, for only a split second of success. It’s story is the classic iceberg. So much of the struggle and emotional stress is submersed underneath, while the success floats on the surface, open to our vision.
I’m not suggesting that we reveal the secret underside of the iceberg to the world, but I do think it’s ok to be honest that it’s there. We don’t have to tell our whole story to a stranger, but it’s ok to say, “it was really hard at the beginning. I cried a lot.”
We all pretend that the surface is all we have to show, secretly hiding our own fight to the top. We eventually learn about the soil under each each other’s lawns and say,” I had no idea that was how you grew the grass you have! I have that too!” We have more in common than we think, we’re just missing one another.
It’s ok to be honest so that we don’t have to pretend everything is sunshine and roses. That top layer of the iceberg is such a small percentage; that grass is grown from such a thicker layer of soil full of unseen nutrients underneath. We don’t have to expose our secret nether regions to people that don’t have our backs and hearts, but it’s cool to say, “yeah, that’s me too.”
Don’t change that yard for the sake of sameness though! Own your dandelions! Share your nether-regions, and if your neighbors can’t see through the exterior to the soil underneath then shrug it off and just keep on doing you.