Arthur Curtis walks into his office like any other day. He is greeted by his secretary and they have ideal chit chat about the work day, the upcoming weekend, and a vacation that Arthur has planned with his wife Marian to San Francisco. Arthur steps into his office to make a phone call and appears to forget who he is calling. Off in the distance Arthur hears someone yell “cut”. When Arthur looks into the direction of call out, he realizes he is on a movie set and is being watched by the Director and other stage hands. When the Director speaks to Arthur, he calls him by the name of Gerry Reagan. Arthur becomes confused and disoriented. He doesn’t understand why everyone seems to know him by another name. The Director calls for an hour long break to give Gerry time to get himself together.
Confused at this current situation, Gerry calls the operator to get the number to his residence but no such number is found. Gerry rushes off the set and is almost run over by his former spouse Nora who he doesn’t remember. Nora begins shouting at Gerry asking him for her alimony and calling him a drunk. Gerry jumps in her car and drives to look for Ventner Road, the address of Arthur Curtis, and is confused when he can’t find it. Nora takes control of the car and drives Gerry to his actual home where his agent, Brinkley, is waiting for him. Brinkley tries to convince Gerry that he must return to the set or he will have to drop him. Gerry calls the operator once more looking for the phone number for the company he, Arthur Curtis works for and the operator cannot find any company by that name.
Brinkley explains to Gerry that he is under a lot of strain and stress. That due to this, he has become ill and needs to seek help. Brinkley shows Gerry the current script of the show that he is working on and begins to read the prologue. “Arthur Curtis, the main character, is married to Marian Curtis, 33 years old, and they have a child.” Gerry gets upset and yells for Brinkley to stop reading. Brinkley suggests Gerry is living in a fictional world because it is easier and better than the life he is currently living. He explains to Gerry the Director has cancelled the show and Arthur Curtis is dead. Gerry rushes off to the movie set to get back to his life. When Gerry arrives at the movie set, the stage hands are deconstructing the set. Gerry makes his way into the office of Arthur Curtis and while looking at a picture of his wife and daughter, his wife Marian walks into the office and calls him by the name Arthur Curtis. Arthur and Marian leave the set to take off on their vacation.
Gerry is like many of us, under a lot of stress and pressure, some self inflicted and some burdened onto us my society, expectations, and others. We get the impression from Gerry’s former spouse that he had a drinking problem, wasn’t the greatest spouse, and wasn’t a dependable man. With no proper way to handle the stress of his life, Gerry had a mental split and assumed the life of someone he perceived to have an easier and better life. I believe there are many of us who opt for this type of split, instead of dealing with the problems and stressors in our lives we assume a life of someone who we would like to be. Maybe not as dramatic as assuming the persona of a movie character, but assuming a different life on social media or in the selected parts of our lives we choose to share with others.
On social media, everyone’s life is perfect right? Wrong, it just looks that way. It is easier to depict a life that you want or that you want others to be jealous of than to actually create it. Taking pictures of the perfect family, the perfect vacation, the perfect “fill in the blank” fools you and others into thinking you have it all together, everything is perfect and you are someone who has it all. By doing this will we fool ourselves and others into believing something that is not real. The more you do this and the further away you get from who you really are, the harder it is for the real you to show up.
Social media isn’t the only outlet people use to portray a life they want but don’t actually have. People do this by living in houses they can’t afford, driving cars they can’t afford, going on vacations they can’t afford, dressing the part of the person they wish to become, and so on. This is really no different than Gerry. People are playing a character because it is easier to play pretend than to work towards creating the life that you want. People also play a “character” based on the unrealistic expectations they place on themselves with the help of society, media, and others.
So why do people do this? Why do people pretend to live a life they don’t actually live? Maybe people think it is too hard to have the life they want, maybe they feel they don’t deserve the life they desire, or maybe they think they are living a life they believe society or others expect them to live. For each person the reason is different and until we understand our reasons, we will continue to live a life that is not true to who we are. We have to look inward and ask ourselves what is the life we want, what matters most to us and then work on a plan to obtain it. Life isn’t easy, there is struggle, disappointment, failure, heartbreak, and pain, but there is also joy, happiness, love, and victories.
According to Brene Brown there are six reality check questions we should all ask ourselves when it comes to living a life free of our unattainable expectations of ourselves and the perceived expectations of others.
- How realistic are my expectations?
- Can I be all these these things all of the time?
- Do the expectations conflict with one another?
- Am I describing who I want to be or who others want me to be?
- If someone perceives me as being something I am not, what will happen?
- Can I control how others perceive me? How do I try?
I encourage you to take a look at all the aspects of your life; who you are at home, at work, on social media, and in your head. What type of life do you want to live? Be realistic and challenge yourself to envision a life that is possible, that is 100% you, and work towards it. When life gets hard, don’t go off course to what is easy, stick with it and achieve the life you want and deserve.