Why ‘perfect life’ narratives can make you feel like poo

Oct 29, 2014

Car Selfie

I found myself muttering at my i-Pad this weekend when one of those “perfect life” narratives popped into my Facebook feed. You know, the kind where somebody shows you their perfect life and then suggests that you too can have the same “pinch me” life if you just buy their $2,000 program by midnight tonight.

I actually said out loud, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Of course, people can have wonderful lives and genuinely want to share what they’ve learned. That’s beautiful! Personal storytelling is powerful medicine.

What’s made me mad is when the overly tidy narrative makes real life feel like poo. A sort of implication that if everything isn’t ever improving in endless abundance, blissful connection and glorious radiance, there is something wrong and you better buy something to fix it.

Life isn’t a tidy upward achievement narrative. It’s a moment-by-moment choice to love more and stay awake a millisecond longer.

And to watch Gilmore Girls reruns when you can’t bear it, which is what I did last weekend – here’s to the abundance of Netflix.

Which may make you think, “Jen’s all tetchy because she was feeling down and then she checked Facebook and somebody was all ‘Life is bliss’ and she got her panties in a bundle.” But I also saw plenty of other happy posts that didn’t make me want to pinch somebody. Is it the intention? The profit motive?

I think I’m hungry for less personal glorification, especially in the pursuit of profit. Less pushing an ideal and more pushing for a just world.

I know it’s tricky to share personal stories while selling stuff. I try to walk that line all the time. I probably get it wrong sometimes. If so, please know I am always striving to be honest and helpful, while never pretending to be something I’m not.

Here’s what I hope – that we can share our full lives, as it feels appropriate, not just the highlight reel. And that we can remember it’s not all about us.

Thanks for listening,


P.S. My web designer, the wonderful Paul Jarvis, wrote a smart post about this in the business realm. That lives here.

Jettison Self-Doubt and Lose the Itty-Bitty-Shitty Committee and Make Your Thing Now

From the national best-selling author of The Woman’s Comfort Book and Why Bother.

Made for writers, artists, mail art makers, knitters of sock puppets, creative entrepreneurs, photographers, Tarot readers, and anybody who needs to make stuff they love.

I’m not one of those creepy people who make it hard to unsubscribe or email you again nine years after you’ve unsubscribed. Giving me your email is like a coffee date, not a marriage proposal.