I look good on paper, but…

photoIn the last two days, I have twice heard people comment that they look good on paper, but they feel as if there is a disconnect between that and how they feel in reality. These individuals have amazing credentials, but aren’t experiencing what they would would expect that someone with these credentials would be experiencing.

They are searching for something that doesn’t exist.

We expect to emotionally feel similar to the way that we look on paper, because deep down when we see how others look -on paper- we assume that they feel that way. The disconnect isn’t between how we appear and how we feel, the disconnect takes place due to our particular notions of certain people. If we look at someone we greatly admire, most of the time we expect that that person emotionally experiences what we are experiencing as we admire them. We have to keep in mind that they are not. They are living their own personal feelings completely disconnected from our expectations.

This is because the whole of a person is so much greater than the sum of everything that they can put forth in their image. I said in my “Creating Your Life’s Composition” post that a person’s life can’t really be categorized well, and never completely. In general, people who are successful or admired decide to put only the best stuff “out there for the world to see” (best stuff according to their standards), and hiding everything else, keeping it as private as possible. I want to emphasize that I use “best stuff” very, very loosely. Someone’s best stuff may possibly be publicly working out some of their “worst stuff”, and that can make them successful or admired. I suppose it would be better to use a phrase like “most interesting stuff”.

When we see how good we look on paper, any paper, but we don’t feel like that amazing person that we’re reading about, and there is a good reason – The paper isn’t complete. It isn’t the whole story, and we know the WHOLE story:

On paper, I’m a working musician, magician, and writer with a handful of books, albums, public appearances, lots of big and little kudos to throw out there for the world to see. I have a beautiful wife, a great family, a house, my own woods, ideas for making my homestead sustainable, a new car, a pickup truck, and the list goes on…If that was the whole of my existence, I would either be ignorant and exceptionally happy, or analytical and extremely bored. What is not on paper are all my personal issues, health problems, relationship issues, insecurities, and other baggage that I want to keep private or are simply not fit for public consumption. I want to list some of these things in detail, but I would do so at the risk of dominating this essay and obscuring the meaning. My point is that all that great stuff is not the sum of who I am.

Life would be much simpler if we decided to not expect to feel a certain way. Just live whatever you feel without setting yourself up for disappointment by unrealistic emotional expectations. Be proud of yourself on paper and everywhere else. And when you consider any other person, know that they don’t feel like they look on paper either. Because life is huge.

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