Recently I read a guest post by Geoff Stewart on my brother Josh's youth ministry blog, www.morethandodgeball.com, and it really hit home with issues I've been dealing with lately. Because he already said it so eloquently, I'll post an excerpt here (emphasis mine):
"This is a struggle that most pastors (especially youth pastors) have. We end up sharing lots of the crazy stories that have happened to us, including the ones many of us go out of our way to make happen because they might make great illustrations. (One time I drove 5 minutes past my exit of the freeway following a pick up truck full of loaves of bread because I was hoping some would fly out and hit my car – and sure enough three loaves did.) But I really enjoy spending time with students, especially my small group, one-on-one because if anything they get to see that I am a pretty normal guy. The ones that don’t know the real me look at my twitter and Facebook, and it’s one event or conference after another, one more “adventure” that I am on. This highlight reel is not in any way, shape, or form an accurate portrait of my life."
I was talking to a friend at Leadership Conference this past January and confided that I had been feeling extremely run down, and burned out in a major way lately. She was aghast. "No way!" she said in dismay. "I was just pointing your blog out to my husband as an example that there WERE women out there who were doing it all." She went on to say I always looked like I had it all together, and she felt like if she could just get more organized, she too, could be like me.
She was truly dismayed. I felt terrible that I'd burst her bubble, yet I also felt like I was ultimately doing her a service by allowing her to see that all that glittered was not gold. Too often, all we see is someone's public face, and we think everything's fine. But just because there are no long silences on someone's blog does not mean everything is ok.
To some of you who follow me online, or only see me at events, my life may sometimes appear to be one big highlight reel. I do travel a lot for business, I have won some pretty big awards and I have been given some fantastic opportunities. I talk a lot, joke about my foilbles and boo-boos, and share photos and stories about my kids and other family events now and again. I chat online on a couple of forums way more than is profitable for my schedule.
But the honest truth is, you don't know me. You don't live next door or even in my town. You don't know what I miss because I'm too busy, what I turn down because of timing, what I say "no" to when I say "yes" to something else. You know only what I choose to present about myself through my Facebook status updates, my emails, and my blogs. And of course, for a business-minded person, that's always colored by professional enthusiasm and energy, whether real or forced.
But the thing is, while the trips and awards and opportunities ARE the truth, they are not the WHOLE truth. There's a reason they have you swear to tell the "whole" truth in court. Because you can tell the truth and still be living a larger "lie." The real truth is, Stampin' Up, even at the highest levels, is composed of completely ordinary women leading completely ordinary lives, JUST LIKE YOU.
Every thought to yourself after reading someone's blog, "WOW! I feel exhausted just THINKING about everything she's doing"? Chances are, SHE'S exhausted DOING all those things, too. But we get on this crazy fun merry-go-round and we spin faster and faster, and frankly, some of us hang on longer than others, but we all fall off or throw up in the end, if the merry-go-round never stops spinning.
Unfortunately, burnout is 'the elephant in the corner' of direct sales. A demonstrator friend I talked with recently about this commented, "it's like we're afraid it's contaigious." No one wants to talk about it. No one wants to admit it could happen to them. And nothing will change unless women start talking about it.
I think it's time to stop pretending there are super-demos. It's not healthy for them or for anyone trying to emulate them. There's only women, doing the best they can with the differing resources they have available, sometimes suceeding, sometimes failing, often being way too hard on themselves. Enjoy the journey. Quit comparing yourself or your business to anyone else's. You are a complicated and complex human being with lots of modern and unrealistic expectations on our shoulders in addition to all the traditional roles we women still have to fulfill.
Don't start believing your own highlight reel. Give yourself a break, and along the way you'll be doing your downlines and demo friends --and even people you don't realize are watching you-- a favor, too, by showing them a real, flawed human being doing the best she can with grace and humor.