People today are overly concerned with the idea of being perfect.
Their social media pages are filled with “fun” or “candid” shots of them laughing with their friends and family.
They mask what may be truly going on through different pictures and events, and they tend to edit out any flaws they see in themselves.
I will admit I am not above this. I always post pictures of myself laughing or smiling, use filters to make myself look better and only use pictures I deem “cute” enough for social media.
I wear a mask just as many other people do, and sometimes, you end up forgetting who you truly are behind that mask.
All throughout high school, I had a large group of friends.
I was outgoing and social, and I was a varsity athlete on state teams. I was tall, blonde and thin, did well in school and had everything going for me.
However, behind the fake smile and bubbly laugh, the high school parties and “perfect” Facebook pages, there was something very different happening in my life.
I was struggling with my mental health, just as many teenagers and young adults do, but I was suffering in silence due to embarrassment.
I was diagnosed with panic disorder and agoraphobia, and I was paralyzed with fear every single day in class.
Yet, I still faked a smile and pretended like nothing was wrong.
I continuously had panic attacks throughout the day, but I made sure to hide them from my friends and teachers. I even kept them from my parents for a while.
I stopped going out to social events by making up excuses and saying I wasn’t feeling well or I had plans with my family.
So, many people had no idea what was going on in my life and the difficulties I was facing.
I did not want to tell anyone, and when someone did ask, I lied and said I was fine.
I kept up this façade for years, telling one or two people at a time.
But, I never let the news of my “imperfection” spread because I was fearful it would ruin my “image.”
Every single day, I would look at the other girls in the hallway and think to myself, “Why me?”
I would compare myself to them and wish my life could be more like theirs: anxiety free. (That was unfair of me to do, though. You never know what people will through behind the masks they may be wearing.)
As I continually compared myself to others, I allowed my anxiety take over my life and control every single decision I made.
I had to stop swimming competitively because I could not handle the pressure of competition.
I missed homecoming and football games, and I did all of this in silence because I refused to tell anyone what was really going on.
The idea of perfect is just an illusion. Once you stop chasing that idea, you find out who you truly are and become comfortable with yourself.
From other perspectives, it looked like I had the perfect life. I had a supportive family and was close with my parents and sister, but no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors.
Many people were shocked to find out what I was going through because I lied about it and worked so hard to hide it for years.
I learned to be honest with myself and with others. Once I shared my experiences, I saw just how accepting people can be.
No one is perfect; all people have their obstacles. It’s how you approach those obstacles that makes you a stronger person.