As much as I dream of living in the States, I find that there’s something freeing about living on the other side of the Atlantic, far away from the Pinterest-worthy parties and the shiny new SUVs. Here in France, I don’t feel as much pressure to have a Pinterest-perfect life. A half a world away, I don’t feel the need to try to keep up with the Joneses.
When I’m stateside, I see my friends with their huge houses, their perfectly kept lawns, their freshly manicured nails, and their expensive new cars. Suddenly – and despite myself- I start drawing comparisons.
With my friends all rolling around town in their luxury SUVs or their high dollar cars, it’s difficult not to feel a bit embarrassed driving around in my 1996 Camry that I bought in high school. I constantly have to remind myself that it’s a dependable means of transportation during my time home. I mean, do I really need a $60,000 car for the 2 months a year that I drive it? Of course not.
I wish the pressure to keep up stopped there, but it doesn’t. Within a matter of days of landing in the States, I feel the need to get my nails done every week. I never get my nails done in France. Seriously, jamais.
As ashamed as I am to admit it, after just a few weeks in America, I start feeling a little sorry for myself because I don’t have a five bedroom, brick house with a game room and a salt water pool. Could we use more space than we have in France? Bien sûr. Would my cabinets and closets be a little more organized if we had more than 969 square feet worth of apartment? Absolument. Do I have any reason to feel sorry for myself? Aucune. But comparison does that to you….
As I scroll through pictures of the magazine-worthy birthday parties my friends throw for their kids, I can’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy and even self-doubt. Maybe I should be going all out for my kids’ birthdays, too? My jealousy and self-doubt quickly fade away, however, as I calculate how much money it must cost to throw such extravagant parties. When I think about how many hours those parents spend planning and stressing over their Pinterest-perfect events, I breathe a sigh of relief, thankful that there’s no pressure to go all out, all the time here in France.
For my son’s second birthday party, I picked up a plastic Cars table cloth, plates, and napkins from the French equivalent of the Dollar Store. I patted myself on the back for making homemade Flash McQueen cupcakes; that’s about as extravagant as it gets over here! My son had one friend over for his party, granted we had invited two (the other child came down with Chicken Pox). There were no huge, expensive gifts. If I remember correctly, between his friend and the family, he scored 2 or 3 matchbox cars, a cheap plastic tractor like you pick up in the $1 section at Target, and a pair of pajamas.
Pauvre boy, you might be thinking. Quelle déception!
Au contraire, my friends. He didn’t miss the house full of friends, the bouncy castle, the gourmet coffee bar, the mimosas, the organic vegetable platter, or the party favors. He was perfectly content with a cupcake and a Matchbox Car. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!
There are so many things about America that I miss. I’d be lying if I said that I don’t sometimes live vicariously through my friends and family, dreaming about what it’d be like to have a Pinterest-perfect life in a Pinterest-perfect house with Pinterest-perfectly dressed kids. In America, we do BIG, we do SHINY, we do PICTURE-PERFECT and we do it all so well. It’s the American way- or at least the mainstream American way.
Given that I have the relatively unique experience of being from a culture yet living outside of that culture, I feel obligated let you in on something that I’m coming to understand: There’s a lot to be said about having a life that isn’t Pinterest-Perfect. There’s no shame in the simple. Imperfections are not necessarily flaws.
What if picture-perfect does not equal perfection?
What if perfection is found in keeping it simple?
What if perfection is in the imperfections?
What if perfection is something you find when you stop comparing and competing and trying to keep up…
A la prochaine,