Monday, October 12, 2009

"It's perfect! And even if it isn't, never apologize. No excuses! No explanations!" --Julie & Julia

I have just finished reading Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell. You've probably seen, or seen previews for, the movie version that's in theaters right now with Amy Adams and Meryl Streep, and it is from that movie that the quote in the title of this post came. So on with my post, which is about neither the book nor the movie, but just a particular thought that I had while I was reading.

The thing that struck me is how real Julie Powell is. I don't mean literally, because of course the book is nonfiction. What I mean is that throughout the whole process, Julie makes no attempt to hide anything, or to make herself look better than she is. She swears like a sailor. She doesn't clean her house for a year because she just doesn't have the energy to devote to it. She freaks out and throws temper tantrums, and writes every word of it. Toward the end of the experiment, she has maggots growing under the dish rack in her sink, and she tells the whole world about it. Julie Powell makes zero excuses for herself, and that impresses me. For an entire year she puts every ounce of energy she has into completing her project and staying sane, and if that means she doesn't have any left for things like dusting and doing dishes, well then, so be it. She knows that she has limits.

Obviously this is an extreme example, but it's the attitude--the principle of it--that I'm getting at. There is something wonderful about just being you, without putting on a face for people. It's just a fact that sometimes life is crazy, and you shouldn't have to make excuses for it. Sometimes it's so crazy you can barely hang on to your sanity, much less be "on top of things." But that's okay. You don't have to always have it together, and you don't have to pretend that you do if you don't. Sometimes you need to be honest with yourself and be okay with the fact that you're going through a hard time. This doesn't mean that you're any less mature or developed a person--it just means you're a real person. It means you admit that life is hard, and that you are working as hard as you can to get by. It means you realize that you're not Superwoman, and that you don't have to be; that you're not perfect, and neither is anyone else, so there's no reason to be embarrassed about it. It means you prioritize, and maybe decide that today it's more important to get a shower and relax a little bit than it is to finish all your errands. It's okay to struggle, and it's okay if people see. Life is just hard enough to handle without making it harder on ourselves by pretending it's not.

6 comments:

sarah said...

i just found this via lindsey's facebook status but i LOVE this post! i completely agree with you. it seems like some people expect to see only the cheery side of life. but we're not robots! we feel a whole spectrum of emotions and that's what makes us human. i agree with you miri. we should accept and cherish the whole range of emotions because that's what it means to LIVE. excellent post!

Annie said...

the thing is....some people CAN do it all. i see tons of women in my life who really do get everything done most days....or women who prioritize cleaning their house instead of relaxing, so their houses make me feel awful about mine. but i think you're right....we have to remember that everyone is different. I am not HER, and i don't need to be. i can have my own priorities and skills and take one thing at a time. and also, i think the more we say, hey, i'm having a hard time...the more people will have a chance to say, me too! and we can all be friends and take are of each other instead of putting on a show for the world.

Miri said...

See, the thing is that we never know what's going on in other people's lives, so we really can't judge whether someone is doing better or worse than we are. Sometimes even people we know really well are dealing with things that we don't know about. A person might look like they have it all together, when really they're barely making it through the day and are just excellent actors. Or they might seem like a total mess, but then you look closer and see that they're honestly happy, and far more so than others who seem to be better off. Outward appearances are very deceiving, which is why things would be so much easier if we could stop worrying so much about them and just be us.

Lis said...

I've had the thought that if the house isn't too messy, but not perfectly organized, then it's homey and lived in. If there isn't a speck of dust or one book out of place, you almost feel like you shouldn't touch anything or sit on the couch in case you mess it up. I say, keep it clean but comfortable.

annie said...

miri...i guess my point was that i don't want to make myself feel better about my weaknesses by assuming talented women are faking their strengths. they can be good at things that i'm bad at, and that's ok. i don't want to assume that they're faking it or suffering inside to get things done every day. instead, i want to focus on what i'm good at....separate from anyone else's talents. but all that is really about time management and housekeeping skills. as far as sadness and human suffering go, it is important to realize that we're never the only ones going through a rough time, and being understanding of other women and reaching out is imperative.
great post!

Miri said...

Annie, my point wasn't that you should assume other people are faking their happiness in order to feel better about yourself. I was just pointing out how useless it is to compare yourself to others because often what you see isn't even the truth. Aside from that, I think we are saying the same thing--how you feel about yourself shouldn't have anything to do with what other people are doing, regardless of whether they seem to be doing it better or worse than you.