Your friends really aren't doing better than you

Emily Diehl

10 mins

You’ve got crap you don’t tell people. Your people have crap they aren’t telling you. If that doesn’t change, neither will you. Don’t get stuck. Instead, get real.

####Hard Truth: Let’s face it, your life is far from what you thought it would be when you were daydreaming during the ACT. It’s harder. It’s more expensive. Maybe a little more lonely, or you’re in desperate need of having a moment alone. You probably have way more responsibility than what you thought you would. Bill collectors might know your contact info. Your landlord sucks. You use wrinkle cream. You have no idea where your job is going. And you lie about all of it.

Why is it that we all feel the need to not be honest about our lives? Everytime we lie, we create distance from everyone around us. With every fake story, we’re saying, “I don’t want you to know the real me.” For most of us, that comes from a place of fear. We desperately want acceptance. Scratch that, we want adoration. We want people looking at us thinking, “I don’t know how she does it.” “I want to be him.” “They have it all figured out.” Meanwhile we are doing the EXACT SAME THING wanting to be someone who we are certain has it all—and they are just pretending too.

Bottom line: Your life is hard. You don’t have a lot of money. But you’re making it work. You’re pulling it off. So cut the crap and get real about it. Let people in. Laugh at your mistakes. Embrace the suck.
Harsh? Maybe.
What you need? Absolutely.

####I Used to Be the Worst: After college I had one goal in mind: money. I didn’t care what my job was, or what I was selling as long as my bank account looked good. (This is how I ended up selling hair straighteners in Costco). I was turned on by success and found myself having a forbidden intense affair with consumerism. The bigger the price tag, the higher the temptation. I had to have what the guy in the cubicle next to me didn’t. Even worse, I wanted him to be pissed he didn’t. I loved the look I got when I came in with a new purse, shoes, even my lunchbox. I once owned a $60 monogrammed lunchbox. What the hell was wrong with me?

Every detail I could customize, I did. Every trip I could take, I booked. I had a system for rotating my clothes to ensure I never wore the same thing in front of the same people twice. I was faking it, and not making it. I was a complete fraud. On the outside, I looked the part, had the job, drove the car, and knew the right people. On the inside, I was the most alone I’ve ever been in my life. That dream where you scream and nothing comes out so no one knows you need help—I was living it on repeat.

The truth was I was living with my mom. I had a ton of student debt. Each month I paid my trainer more money than I had in savings overall. I took on a car payment I knew was too much only because the fear of driving a less cool car felt more crippling to me than debt did. If being into God would have been cool I would’ve been, but he wasn’t so I didn’t bother, even though I was curious. I was making half the salary I said I made. Judging was one of my favorite hobbies. Basically, I was a joke. Then super-uncool-God showed up and wrecked me.

####What You Need To Hear: When I started volunteering with high school students I realized I had to get myself together. It was one thing to lie to the people I called friends, but lying to kids felt different. They were the only people I was honest with about what life in the real world is like. My wake up call was when I realized that I was so terrified of what others thought, that the only people who knew the real me, were ten years younger than me. That broke me, and led me to open up to the other leaders about who I really was as a person. Honestly, I figured they were weird church people so they had to be nice to me, and who cares what they think. Over time, I found myself changing. I stopped dating losers and realized what my standard was. For the first time in my life I was saving money. I quit getting my nails done, went to bed before midnight, and the guy at the liquor store stopped knowing me by name. For the first time as an adult, I was known and surrounded by people who loved me because of it, not despite it.

When you have an empowering community around you, you find freedom and leave comparison behind. I realized I might be super behind on some things, I’m OK with that. That’s because I know I’m really ahead on other things, thanks to my friends being honest about their lives. I don’t secretly hate or envy my friends, I’m proud of them. I was 100% OK when my friend bought a house while I was still living at home. Just as they were happy for me when I got a new job while some were stuck at ones they didn’t even like. I’ve learned that everyone is struggling, and no one can do it alone. My struggle is not the same as all my friends. I’m grateful for that. I thank God for my friends who are great at budgeting because they have taught me how and hold me accountable to stick to it. I see that we all are at different places with different things, but the one thing we have in common is that we’re honest about it.

God gave us community so we feel valued. He cheers when we get it right, the problem is we can’t always hear him. That’s where people step in. Find people who embrace your mess—they have messes of their own. They aren’t doing better than you. They WILL make you better. Find that.

####I’m Working on It: Today I live on my own because I finally stopped chasing comparison and found margin in my finances because of it. I’m still paying down debt. My nails look like crap. I will always lie about the last time I had a salad—that’s because I don’t remember the last time I did have one. I haven’t bought new clothes in six months and I’m super proud of that. I don’t read the Bible as much as I should. I’ll never stop craving McDonald’s fries. Most months I pay for the gym I don’t go to. I’m really pumped about the new vacuum I just saved for.

The craziest part is my friends know all of this about me. They could tell you 100 other things that I suck at or am weird about, and that they embrace because those things make me me. Despite the having a budget and brown bag lunches, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. The win is that I don’t have to celebrate or worry about those things alone anymore, I have friends and a God who know it all.

You’d be missing the point if you think this just applies to the funny stuff. It reigns true in all aspects of my life. You should be open with your friends about your addictions, weaknesses, fears, and especially, ESPECIALLY, the stuff you don’t want to talk about. That’s where you need to be pushed. For me that’s admitting when I need help. Whether it be physical, emotional, financial or whatever, I hate asking for help. I feel at my most vulnerable when others see I don’t have it all together.

I recently moved and couldn’t swing the cost of movers, so I convinced my 5’2 out-of-shape self that I could do it alone. My friends quickly shut down that pathetic attempt and showed up with boxes, vans, and smiles to help. I hated every minute of it and also have never felt more loved. Not to mention, I really needed the help. I was just too proud to ask. I’m going to be working on that for a long time, but the difference is that my people know it. So, what’s your thing? What aren’t you telling people about? Identify that.

####Get Ready: Be real about where you are in life. When you do your friends might leave—that’s fine. You’ll make new ones who don’t suck. The thing no one realizes is that when you are honest, even if people hate it, you’ll get respect. People applaud the character of someone who is willing to be authentic when no one else is. It stands out. It’s memorable. It’s needed.

Someone has got to make the ripples—let it be you. Be Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball and blow it all up. Stop comparing yourself to the guy next to you.

News flash: Your life has flaws, it’s because you’re flawed. Your life also has joy, success, pride, and adventure in it—you just have to look for it and be proud of it. It’s yours, which makes it 100% in your control. The challenge is deciding if you want to be real about it.

Pretty words won’t change your life. This might:
Choose something from this article and actually do it.
Share this with a friend then ask for a follow-up convo.
Share this broadly and start a dialogue.

Grab a friend and take this article further by discussing:
What’s the one thing you’ve been afraid to tell people? Text a friend, schedule a time to hang out, and talk about it.

Emily Diehl
Meet the author

Emily Diehl

Redhead. Cupcake snob. Scared of fire; obsessed with candles. Really into cheese. Embarrassed Millennial. Kicked out of Girl Scouts for being too competitive.

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