There was one summer where I had to take a break from Pinterest. This was a few years ago now, but every time I opened the page I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown. My feed felt overwhelming – the barrage of photos of things you could buy or do or wear or, mostly, eat. This sensory overload came from the distinct disconnect I felt between what I was seeing and the current cruising altitude of my life. I don't think I'm alone in this. All of our boards are filled with expensive clothes or exotic vacations or home décor and yet our reality is a usually a far cry from "Contour like pro" because dang, that makeup is expensive or “95 meals to make for your family" because honestly, cooking is a lot of work after a whole day of desk chains at the office, or maybe you don't have a family and you desperately want one so you have someone to eat the casserole you carefully scooped into zucchini boats. So we sit there and quietly bottle those lessons and pin them somewhere for our someday life.
At that time and even still I can catch myself too concerned with the idea of arriving - with the thought that I can make it to the best version of myself if I just do enough, grow enough, learn enough, then I'll be the person that people really like, the one that people are proud of, the one that deserves success and happiness and gets 349 likes on that Insta post. Maybe then I will feel accomplished. Maybe then I will feel like I belong. Maybe then I will feel valued. Worthy. Sometimes you can’t help but dream of arriving - of getting there - reaching the crest of your own self-ideal. Doing enough. Trying enough. Being enough.
Since I can’t seem to arrive at this mythical enough where I finally feel fulfilled - complete - then there has to be a reason. There has to be something I can do to make the waiting stop and the arriving start. See, we like to be doers, fixers, difference makers. We like to feel like we have some semblance of control. So maybe if I listen to enough podcasts and read enough books and tweet out every single thought in my head and have a whole slew of followers. Maybe if I have enough college degrees and a high GPA and a lot of letters behind my name. Maybe if I have a decent place to live, one that looks like Chip and JoJo brought their Fixer Upper crew right into the living room. Maybe if all my bills are paid, and I eat enough healthy food or I become all out vegan, gluten-free, paleo-only, please! Maybe if I pick up some interesting hobbies and habits. Maybe I can feel like I’ve arrived if I can make a Pinterest-perfect recipe that actually looks like the picture and host parties worthy of Martha Stewart Living and go to the gym on a pretty regular basis because look at Kayla Itsines, you guys. Maybe if I can say “Where’s the bathroom?” in three different languages and have seen enough of the world. Maybe if my wedding is worthy of Style Me Pretty. Maybe if all these things, then I can arrive. Then I will have made it. Then I won’t feel like I am constantly waiting for something, the next thing, anything.
I’ve noticed we silently have benchmarks for things we feel we should have accomplished or arrived at by a certain age. Maybe that’s society or maybe that’s our own internal clock. I think it’s a little bit of both. Our whole lives have been set up by these markers: at six you start kindergarten, at 16 you drive a car, at 18 you’re a legal adult, at 21 you can get rid of that fake ID, at 65 you can retire. So then at 26 you should be married? At 29 you should for sure have at least one kid or consider quitting birth control? When should I know how to handle a crisis without calling my mom? (Never.) When should I buy the house?
Buying a house. It seems like the next grown-up thing to do – or at least the next grown-up thing you can semi-control when you can’t control so many other unknowns. Some of my friends are in this stage. Let me tell you the number of times I’ve recently heard, “Have you thought about buying a house?” Really? There are so many things to consider when it comes to buying a whole house! Like what if you don't have the means to maintain a space that large? Listen, all I have to do when my sink starts to drain slowly is call up maintenance and never think about it again. Apartment perks! What if you’re worried about bad guys coming through the basement window of that house you now own? Asking for a friend, obviously. I understand that owning a home rather than lighting money on fire, wait, sorry, I mean renting, makes more investment sense. But, maybe everyone needs to relax for a minute, you know? Stop rushing around looking for the next thing you can body slam with your illusion of control. Don’t white-knuckle your way through life trying to reach the benchmarks. I read this quote the other day, “People move because of the wear and tear of anxiety… because of the feeling that nothing will change, that happiness and prosperity are only possible somewhere else.” I think people make a lot of decisions because of the wear and tear of anxiety that nothing will change - especially if we feel like we aren’t hitting the marks and maybe they can be reached if we just do this or that. Maybe I’ll feel like I’ve made it if I buy a house. Maybe I'll find happiness and prosperity if ____. Maybe I’ll feel like I’ve arrived and I’m deserving if I just invest better, eat better, look better, become a living Pinterest board of accomplishments.
The lie is that when I feel like I have arrived - when I feel like I have accomplished everything, when I've graduated, when I've landed the job or earned the raise, when I've moved to the new town, when/if I do have a spouse and a baby keeping me up at night, the idea we all cling to is that then the waiting will be over. Maybe I won’t be waiting anymore when the loan is paid off and my car is brand new and I have the dog I always wanted or the house on the beach. Maybe when the kids are grown, the retirement account is full, and the grandbabies come. Maybe then. But, it’s a lie. You will still be waiting. There will still be that longing - that internal tug to become more. To embark on a new endeavor that might make you feel more complete. And maybe then you'll look back nostalgically and wonder if these were the days you should have relished and enjoyed instead of waiting to arrive at the next big moment because the next big moment arrived and left you wanting.
I know there is no silver bullet. There is no magical formula that suddenly makes the stars align and causes me to finally get there - to be at the pinnacle where I'm no longer waiting or wanting or hoping to be better. There is no thing, no trip, no life event, no person who will complete you (I'm looking at you, Jerry Maguire) because the longing in our hearts to arrive, to be enough, is put there by God, the one who created the very intricacies of our hearts. The desire to be better and feel better and look better to the world is the desire to be admired and enjoyed and beloved by the King of the universe. Ecclesiastes says, “He has set eternity in the human heart, " which means we will always be longing for more and we won’t arrive, ever, this side of glory. C.S. Lewis put it this way, "If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
I know these truths. I know the magical enough I so desire will never come. But, knowing the truth doesn’t always make the feeling go away. I can put these words on the page with just enough wit and the right amount of insight to make you agree with me (or not), but then I’ll walk away from this screen and go out into the world and wonder if I'm the only one who might feel like they're waiting for something - hoping, praying, wishing to arrive and feel like enough.
Pinterest and I are back together. We apologized to each other and decided to move forward on new terms - terms where my boards don't tell me how to feel and the photos I see aren't the measuring stick of my life. And instead of the waiting and the wondering and hoping to arrive at enough, I decided to arrive at every day with the fresh perspective that all that I am and all that I might not be is already enough. I may never hit the marks but I’m done striving, spinning myself in circle after circle hoping I can make some gold out of this straw in my hands. Instead I fall back to the arms of the One who can make something from this dust. I throw myself at His feet every single day I wake up to a waiting world. And even if every single one of those days are filled with questions and waiting and wondering, I know He has said I am enough - all that I am and all that I'm not and all that I may or may not become - and if that's the case, how could we possibly be in need of more?