Eight lifetimes ago, I used to model, both in person and in print. I would get made up, dressed up, and paraded out to sell clothes that everyday people would presumably buy to wear in real life. Maybe they’d wear them out to a club, or out to dinner with someone, but out in the world at large. However, there were multiple times where I was stitched into the clothing. Usually to tighten it up, make it look more photogenic, present it in an idealized fashion. But I always wondered how many people purchased or tried on clothing based on how it was presented to them, then proceeded to think there was something wrong with them based on how the clothes fit. I wanted to yell from the runway “It’s not you, you’re glorious! I don’t fit into these things either!”

Earlier in my work as a professional organizer, I had the opportunity to work in a Dwell showcase house. We took the things the family lived with, and stored them away to present an aesthetically pleasing design spread. Children’s toys and games were packed away, books were arranged on shelves in very specific patterns, kitchen utensils and appliances were put out of sight, the home looked picture perfect. It was presented in an idealized fashion. About 6 months later, I had a chance to work in that same house again. It was still an architectural gem. However, it was lived in. There were things on the counter, a toaster was out! The living room had toys in it, and a basket to put them in! (not part of the original photoshoot look.)

We’re presented an image of what things are “supposed” to look like, what we’re supposed to be aiming for, but even those so called ideal images are the result of stagecraft. They’re not based in reality. I couldn’t sit or bend or raise my arms while stitched into some of those outfits. I looked good, but I couldn’t move like a real human being in the world. That showcase house looked downright gorgeous in print and in the moment, yes. But that setup was just for show, it didn’t stand a chance when faced with daily life (especially not life with small kids).

The way life (and our bodies, and our spaces) unfolds doesn’t always follow the curated and crafted ideals we’re thinking of. The picture perfect kitchen, when lived in, may have utensils within reach on the counter. That picture perfect dress, when worn on a date, may bag a little on the side. There are times when getting things done in your life looks nothing like any scenario laid out in a book by David Allen. Understand that sometimes…oftentimes, how things happen in the course of living don’t match up with the photograph, or the magazine spread, or the book.

Allow yourself the space to not be so beholden to the book or the ideal.

Understand that what is presented to you is crafted, and that you (yes, you!) get to craft your own ideal.