Monday, March 9, 2015

The Rest of the Story

Friday night we had a family night. Dinner at the "Train" place (where you order on a phone and then a little train delivers your food) and then Disney on Ice.

It was awesome. My husband and I have been gone a lot lately, so the kids were excited to be spending time with us. The train delivery of our food was just cool. We smiled. We laughed. We even let the kids get light up toys for the performance. We were just happy to be together. And even my 11-year-old was loving the ice skating.

At intermission I posted a happy picture on facebook of our super fun evening, and if that was all you ever heard, you'd have an idyllic picture of our family evening. Maybe you'd be a little jealous and wish you could do the same. Maybe you'd roll your eyes and doubt it was that great anyway. Whatever your reaction, my "story" is out there exactly the way I told it.

See, the first half of our night really was that idyllic. I just never got around to posting about the second part.

Just after intermission, 8-year-old began complaining that his stomach hurt. He really wanted to wait it out because we were having that much fun. But shortly before the end it was too much. Husband took him out, and shortly thereafter the rest of us followed and met them at the car where 8-yo was holding an empty grocery bag and moaning.

We hurriedly got on the road (thankfully we beat most people out of the lot), but it wasn't long before the puking began. The other kids immediately complained of the smell, and though it was a chilly night, but we unrolled the windows and did our best to ignore the shivering. Well, that worked right up until the skunk smell hit. I couldn't decide what was worse.

At home we began the process of cleaning up the child, doing laundry, scouring the car seat, finding a suitable place for him to sleep (with low clean-up factor and easy access to a toilet). Oh, let me tell you that it was the polar opposite of the first half of our night. Not fun.

Not fun at all.

Except I was cracking up the whole time. Because polar opposite! Hahaha! Okay, well, I think the irony is funny.

Point is, the rest of story completely changes everything. Yes, we had fun, but it wasn't the idyllic evening that was potrayed in that facebook post (even if that WAS an honest posting at the time). And this is like the writing world (and any other world, but since this is a writing blog . . .).

We read stories about writers getting agents, making book sells, doing class visits, signing books at overcrowded book signings, whatever, . . .

. . . and maybe we think that's really cool, but maybe we compare ourselves just a little. And maybe a little jealousy creeps in. And we wonder why we don't have what they have. Why haven't I found an agent yet? Why didn't my book sell that fast? Why don't I have crowds and crowds of people at my book signings?

Not that I have ever felt this way. ;)

Here's the thing: We may know all the good stuff, but what we don't know is the rest of the story.

Because I guarantee you that everyone has their struggles. Surrounding those idyllic moments are doubts, and concerns, and HARD THINGS. Things we really, really, really wouldn't want to go through.

And I sometimes need this reminder. We are all different. We have different successes and different trials. And that's okay. We take the bad with the good, and we are grateful for what we have.

So let's stop comparing ourselves. Stop thinking we aren't good enough because we don't have what they have. Let's remember The Rest of the Story.

And then let's laugh a little. Because that's so much better than the alternative.


Dianne K. Salerni said...

This is SO true.

I belong to a couple of private FB groups where writers are very transparent about their negative experiences. Sometimes you get to see "the rest of the story" and you realize that what looks like SO MUCH SUCCESS to you came at great cost and with many failures that weren't advertised.

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Oh, golly, Janet! I DO hope your 8 year old is feeling better and that the rest of you remain healthy! But what a great post, and an important reminder that the grass really isn't always greener on the other side. And like Dianne said above, I also talk with writer friends and discover that sometimes what looks like huge success on the outside isn't actually what' going on... or at least not the whole story.

Andrea said...

Oh dear! Thank you for the reminder about the REST of the story! Hope nobody else added any more to that particular story!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Yes, In many cases, if we knew "the rest of the story" our perspective would be quite different. Sorry that what started out as a wonderful evening ended up so poorly. I hope your sone is all right now.

Emily R. King said...

Oh my gosh. So true! I'm not on FB anymore. Been off it for years, and I don't miss it one bit!

Anonymous said...

That did make me laugh! And I tend to compare myself with the profile of writers. Always married (perfectly) with (perfect) kids, and a (perfect) house in the country. And I wonder how can a divorcee of almost two decades with (interesting) kids fit that mold of a 'real' writer? Thanks for helping me give myself permission to believe my story is just fine (and maybe more like others than I know)!

Beth said...

This is such a good post. I remember thinking, when I posted photos from our family trip to NYC last year, that it looked perfect. And it was, mostly, except there were no photos or story of when we were all in a bad mood at the top of the Empire State Building. You're so right - it's difficult not to compare the best of other people's lives to the average of ours, but we should try to stop comparing.

Margo Berendsen said...

I'm catching up on your posts! I loved reading this because this is kind of what I feel like everytime I look at Facebook. I feel like most Facebook post just tell the first part of the story! In "real life" with real friends we usually get the rest of the story, and I feel that blogs are better at reflecting that too, rather than Twitter or Facebook. But Facebook and Twitter have their uses too. They do make it easier to compare though, with all its dangers.