Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It's not your right to have a perfect life

Over the last week I feel like there's been a common theme in a lot of conversations I've had and things I've read. And it's this:

It's not your right to have a perfect life.

It's not your right to have the perfect home. It's not your right to have the perfect job (one that satisfies you completely and is free of conflict with your workmates or boss). It's not your right to have the most fantastic holidays, adventures & experiences. It's not your right to have a life that's completely free of hardship, health woes, unexpected hurdles or relationship ups and downs.

The internet will tell you this is what you deserve (and what everyone else has) but it's bullshit.

In fact it is a privilege to have what you do have. A decent roof over your head, the ability to sit down at the dinner table with your partner or family or friends and eat a decent, healthy meal. A job that pays the bills, that keeps you satisfied and interested (but doesn't have to be your whole world and identity). If you're a creative, it's a privilege that you have the facilities to create your art, to any degree, whether it pays the bills or is just a hobby. Making money from your creativity is extremely challenging and rarely what you imagine it to be. If you want to make an income (even an modest one) there's always a sacrifice. That's why I come to work and push the squeegee back and forth, wash screens, send emails, cut and pack fabric every day. NOT design fabric (that's a rare and special moment when it does happen!).

The internet is great for fostering a false sense of community and closeness, but it's shit at fostering real closeness. Real closeness comes from sharing the shit stuff. Sitting down with a friend and talking about your tough relationship situations or the health of a loved one. Having coffee with a fellow business owner and talking about those behind-the-scenes challenges of managing staff, expectations and cash-flow that nobody ever sees.

How can I espouse all this when often I'm one of the perpetrators in this situation? Showing photos of pretty homes (mine and others) adorned with our textiles, hopefully inspiring you to do the same? I guess my justification is this - I still want my friends and customers to be conscious consumers. People who will buy one or two nice things that are meaningful and have ethical standards, rather than a tonne of mass produced bullshit that will fall apart or fall out of trend in less than a year. It is a privilege to be able to buy ethical, locally made fabric for curtains/upholstery/cushions and I feel privileged every time someone chooses one of our textiles for that purpose.

The tricky thing about the internet is that it's a great place for sharing. I love sharing things that move me, excite me, that I think others will find interesting/valuable/inspiring. But I'm not going to share all the shit things that go down because (and maybe this is just my hang up) I feel like it comes across as sympathy-soliciting whinging that reeks of unappreciation for all the good I do have. I'm sure many others feel the same, which is why we really need to take everything we see (especially on Facebook and design blogs) with a pinch of salt.

I find I keep chewing over this topic in various ways (like here, here and here) because each year it seems to get more and more relevant and intriguing. It's not cut and dry. But if I was to summarise my thoughts right now into a single sentence it's this:

Take everything you see with a pinch of salt, be a conscious consumer, take enjoyment from the small things in life.

And on that topic, here are some special things from the last week that I very much appreciate:

VERY locally grown eggplants - a visit to the new Pope Joan food store saw us leaving with a bag full of produce for one of Matt Wilkinson's recipes plus these eggplants picked straight from the garden on our behalf! How special did we feel! Plus they were delicious.

Since the start of the year I've felt about as creatively as a rock. Now that life is returning to normal I'm starting to feel a little inspired again. Over the weekend I started working on a new print (like I said, a rare occurrence!). Hopefully it'll make it's way onto textiles if I can turn the idea in my head into reality!

New (and much needed) curtains for the bedroom - one of the perks of our job which I feel very grateful for! I'd like curtains to make a comeback. They are about a gazillion times more energy efficient than their fashionable cousin the roman blind. But curtains can be sexy too!

Some good reads:

Stop Instagramming your perfect life

- Forget fast foods, slow down for better well-being

- The importance of teaching kids about food in schools

xx Lara.


joyflea said...

This is a great post Lara. It is something that has weighed on my mind A LOT over the past year, particularly the thought that "Is my constant blog reading/facebooking/design sourcing having a negative impact on my creating time because A) I am flooded with ideas but spend to much time online to do anything about it, B) I'm not good enough/quirky enough/creatively evolved or C) only wanting to create BECAUSE of all of the awesomeness I see online?
I do feel privileged to have the time and the space to create but yes, we need to remind ourselves of how lucky we really are and not lament what we think we want.

Emma Gerring said...

I am totally with you on this, and rejoiced when you covered the same topic previously as well. I've been a small business owner for the past 12 years, first a yarn store, now a hand spinning store, and there's pressure to always portray an image of domestic bliss and business success, because the fear is, if folk out there believed it was a slog for you, they would run away screaming, rather than support you! Its a damn shame, because creative businesses are a hell of a lot more challenging that people think, and there are moments when you want to chuck it all in. That said, I am blessed to have a finger in the creative pie, albeit with hardships, and I relish the good times. Thanks for getting the reality out there, and no, you didn't come across as whinging, just honest! Here, here!!

mads allen said...

Great post Lara! It is definitely something I am aware of (and guilty of!) I only post the good times on my blog/instagram, and I have also felt envy of people's seemingly cool, well designed life on social media. It's refreshing to remember that no one's life is that perfect, and we are all doing what we can to be creative in this space. xx

ale prendes said...

i totally agree . . when i'm at the office, working in front of a computer and start to visit some people's blogs, i feel like i'm really stupid for not doing the same great things they're doing . . it's important to be aware of the reality, that they might be happy with their lifes, but it's not that perfect at all . . the internet makes it posible to show a perfection that can't be real . . and it's so easy to believe it . .

Kindling said...

hi Lara! Thanks for another honest and inspired post! I stopped reading all blogs altogether for the last year after becoming a little cynical, however recently have been forced back into it by my (lovely) marketing guy. I feel like you are articulating what is on my mind and makes me feel like there is some truth and reality in the web/blog world.
I love your work and I look forward to seeing your new design in print. I must say I am also relieved to hear that I am not the only designer who doesn't spend all her time designing. Thanks for your honesty and wisdom clever lady!

Mari said...

Great post. For me focusing on the pretty things is about celebrating the little things in life, but I would love to combine that with some honesty, which I find very difficult to do. It is very easy to get whiny as you say.

Nikki said...

Great post Lara!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! This has just come at the end of a particular crappy week for me. As silly as I know it is, I've been feeling as though I'm not living the life I want/am expected to live and I think this has been influenced partly by the internet.

Actually, isn't it quite similar to the body issues that have been caused by magazines?

Thanks again. This post has made my afternoon.

Jodie said...

yep, its a fine line between keeping it pretty and keeping it real. And YES ! We all need that coffee with someone we can share the shity bits with... Or we explode.

Jesse said...

Bravo! Thank you for articulating these things so rationally. I tend to harbour thoughts like this, but turn them in on myself until I'm pretty much a snarling mess....You make me feel sane again - and much nicer!

sooz said...

Lara, I feel very much the same. The sense of entitlement that people have is frightening to me these days, and with it the perpetual whining about all the stuff (and experiences) we don't have or that isn't right and perfect. But it's confusing too - blogging and social media have helped me connect with some great people in a really meaningful, real way and I'm so grateful for that. But I find it hard to differentiate that from a much more superficial, vacuous even, kind of social competition. And a competition based alternatively on having all the best most perfect stuff and the worst unfair stuff. Hearing about every petty annoyance in everyone's day feels less like social interaction and more like self absorbed tantrums. It's about perspective, but also self control. I'm trying to change the way I use twitter - to think more about what people might hear rather than what I feel like saying.

Kate Moore said...

I love a good blog rant and this was a good one. So good I've had it saved in my reader until I could come back and read it properly - and when I see properly, while waiting for the rice to boil to go with the curry I am about to put on the table. YUM!
I've had a rant on my blog too. I've been pondering a few things since I went to an event I was hoping to be inspirational but that just left me flat. Part (a) in a, maybe, trilogy, is here: I'd love your thoughts, if there's time between creative inspiration and squeegee-ing (Lord, how do you spell that?)

Isis said...

again, i loved reading this post. these a things i've been thinking about increasingly lately. mostly i've been thinking about how much some people in this world have and how little others have. basically i've started to feel guilty about absoultely everything i do and love, such as looking beautiful images on pinterest. making pretty but sometimes pointless things, wanting a pretty (and sometimes constructed) home. i thrive on Making but feel guilty for doing it!
at least when we blog/instagram our 'perfect' lives we are showing an appreciation for all the little things that make us happy. it would be sad to have all these great things and not appreciate it.
thanks for sharing

formandreform said...

Just wanted to say thank you for the timely reality check. Have been spending the past few weeks fretting over not having enough time to pursue my art through needing to work. The lack of freedom has been doing my head in - but as you say, doing anything creative (I really do) and getting paid for it in an honour. yes it is. Going off to slap myself on the back of my head and smile at my workmates (all of them). Thank you. x

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Lara said...

You guys are awesome!! Thank you for the fantastic responses to this post, it is so great to hear that so many people have been feeling the same way. It's always a bit terrifying writing a post like this and such a relief to learn that other people share this sentiment and don't think I'm just being rude or idealistic. THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

Amen Lara! I am hearing this sentiment alot lately and feeling like many of us are just looking for something uplifting to turn towards when we choose to spend our time on the internet. I don't have the answer, but the question is a great place to begin.

I love your honesty and frankness.

So sorry to hear about Dave's disease. I too have struggled with intestinal issues. Does he take a probiotic? Here are two excellent ones:

- Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics
- Syntol by Arthur Andrew MD

Reese said...

Great Job!..I rejoiced when you covered the same topic previously as well. I love your work and I look forward to seeing your new design in print.

ellie said...

My mum used to always tell us that life isn't meant to be fair (you know when kids moan "it's not fair"), and she'd remind us how fair we had it. Now I say that to my kids.

Over my blogging years I've gone through this thing of feeling breathless and tight and constricted because I wasn't good enough compared to all the (pretty house/life/design) blogs I was reading. After stepping back for a bit and reminding myself how beautiful my life is, I now enjoy looking at these blogs with lightness. I do think we share the beautiful with each other to remind ourselves how beautiful our own lives are - I like to see my own beautiful life, and not be reminded of the messes.

Oh - maybe I should write my own blog post, this is going a bit.

Anyway - my friend said :at a workshop recently (that she was the facilitator of), one of the attendees spent a lot of time really wanting to know "so you make a real proper living out of this?", and "how much do you earn?", and so on. My friend had to break it to her that if it weren't for the family tax benefit she'd be back at her full time job that she quite disliked! (and her slow, sticking to her budget style of living helps as well!!).

Great post Lara.

pragmatic sustainability said...

I've been a long-time reader of your blog and totally agree with this post. Reading lots of the blogs out there it becomes easy to feel like everyone has the perfect life except you. Deep down you know it's bullsh*t but sometimes you can still feel you're somehow lacking. I've decided it's much more productive to focus on how you can live a more sustainable life. My partner and I recently decided to start a blog to share the steps we are taking to do this - it's early days for the blog but hopefully we can put some good info out there and help people focus on what they can do, rather than what they can't.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I totally totally agree..and I stopped being on FB and a bunch of other places online since I realized something was wrong when I started to feel depressed when everyone appeared to have a nicer life, have it easier or I started to feel envy of. But I realized that I can be a creative and I'm doing what I want to do....whereas other people are doing jobs that that they may not like. The internet encourages people to convey domestic bliss...success in every manner which is perhaps possibly fake.

lindsey clare said...

Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Lara. Really really great to read. I totally agree that it's a privilege - we often lack perspective when viewing the blessing/curse that is the Internet.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree. Comparison is the thief of joy.

Anonymous said...

Well said!

Meiche @ Mouki said...

YES to everything!!!