September 02, 2014

Everyone Is Fighting a Harder Battle

Me and the guys of A Great Big World. This face is the face of someone trying not to pee her pants with excitement. 

Social media is really great because it quadruples the number of people per second you can envy.

Like I've said before, I live the standard blogger life so I don’t partake in everyday human activities like fits of jealousy. I don’t scroll my Instagram feed and envy the clear skin of an ex-classmate’s girlfriend, the Aruban vacation of that blonde girl I met in 7th grade, or a complete stranger's newly decorated nursery and complementary baby. I’m too busy crossing things off my 30 before 30 list and stuff like that to ever feel like everyone’s Facebook life is putting my real one to shame.

But because everyone loves a hypothetical, let’s just say I did. And to make the story even more outrageous, let’s say that I not only envy the lives of people I actually know, but also the lives of complete strangers, which I only see through TV shows and magazines. As if those Aerie commercials taught me nothing, and I still envy those celebrity lives that I know for a fact have been metaphorically Photoshopped.

Take for example the lives of Chad and Ian of a Great Big World.

Now, thankfully I don’t spend a huge amount of time on active envy, so feeling jealous of a Great Big World had never really been an issue before this weekend when I stumbled across them. (Or perhaps the more accurate description would be obnoxiously bulldozed them outside a cafe bathroom.)

...But then I did obnoxiously bulldoze them outside a cafe bathroom. You see, Derrick is a pretty big fan of a Great Big World, so when we walked into Jane’s Cafe in Naples this Sunday, it took him less than two seconds to tell me, “Don't look now, but a Great Big World is sitting over there, 100%.”

Of course, I did look now. However, I also did have the self-control to not run over mid-mimosa for an autograph or at least a selfie. But just barely. Unfortunately, when they got up to leave, I threw self-control to the wind and ran out the door to obnoxiously bulldoze the pair and ask for that selfie.

And just like when I saw Blonde Chick’s Aruban margarita on Instagram, when I met Ian and Chad, it was easy to wish I had their lives. Because they made their glamour so… real. They were so down to earth, so normal, that I forgot for a second that I was talking to people with a top ten single. But yet they had a top ten single, they had been on the Bobby Bones show, and they were flying to Wisconsin that night because they're famous, and they do famous things like tour the country.

Now, I know that they say touring the country can be tough but I always thought of it as being tough the way eating a gallon of ice cream is tough: involving a bit of mental energy and a strong stomach, but who really feels bad for a guy with his own tub of Rocky Road? Performers must have such extraordinary traveling adventures and eat such extraordinarily adventurous foods and just revel day and night in a blanket of extraordinary.

How envious I was of their grand lives as Derrick and I were driving home. And naturally, as anyone would after a celebrity encounter, I spent most of that drive compulsively researching them on my phone. The more I read, the more glamorous their lives seemed, and the more I wished we could swap… until I listened to this interview.

Chad has MS.

I know a bit about MS because I wrote a paper on it in college. I don’t remember much about the disease except that I thanked God every word of that paper that I didn't have it.

And here was this guy, this unbelievably nice, down to earth, relatable celebrity, with all this talent and all this glamour, struggling with the same thing I couldn't imagine facing.

I know I’m not saying anything that everyone hasn't heard before, and something that most people probably do a lot better than I do. But because Instagram can make it so easy to forget: we’re all struggling, even the girl on the Aruban dolphin and the guy I watched sing on YouTube with Christina Aguilera. I hate an excess of motivational sap as much as the next curmudgeon, but remember that there’s always someone out there who would be thrilled to have your problems

Because, like always, Plato said it best:

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle."