100 Normal Days

Last Friday, I was listening to the Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast titled #Blessed, which was about the way women choose to portray themselves on social media. That prompted me to take the following photo and post it:


When I told my husband about this experiment, he was like, “But isn’t the whole point of social media to share the highlights? I mean, who’s really going to care about the mundane stuff?”

This is a valid question, and one that I am asking myself. After all, isn’t it even more self-centered to believe that someone would be interested in my dirty dishes than to believe they would be interested in the funny thing my cat did?

But what I kept coming back to is the research that shows scrolling through images in social media is prone to making people depressed. One of the theories behind this is that we have a tendency to compare our real, messy lives with the polished, perfect lives that seem to be presented through our friends’ and acquaintances’ social media feeds. We can forget that we aren’t the only people whose lives aren’t bursting with beauty and love at every moment.

  • We see beautiful birthday cakes, but not the dirty dishes in the sink or the crumbs all over the stove.
  • We see adorable smiling babies but not the dirty diapers or the hours of crying
  • We see glittering engagement rings and smiling brides, but not the fights or the tensions that are present in all relationships
  • We see the job promotions but not the messy desks and late nights at the office

Ever since owning my own home, I’ve found myself feeling irritated by how “perfect” houses on TV and movies are. I feel relieved when I see a cluttered or a messy house. I wrote about this a little more extensively in my Year in Disney Movies post about Lilo & Stitch, but essentially, I wonder if my longing to see messy houses on TV might find an echo in a secret longing to see that other people’s lives are just as mundane as yours is.

Which is why I’m going to continue exploring this idea of highlighting the ordinary and the mundane that makes up the majority of most of our lives. A couple years ago, I did the #100HappyDays project. While I think finding the bits of happiness in every day is a noble endeavor, my particular experience of those 100 days was fairly traumatic. My cat died in the midst of it, and while some might say that those are the moments when I MOST needed to appreciate any moment of happiness I could find, I also felt like a total fake. And the experience so scarred me that I’m superstitious about ever participating in #100HappyDays again.

But I’m going to try something new starting tomorrow, and that is to document #100NormalDays. Apparently I am not the first person to have tried this.

What is the point of posting photos of dirty dishes, unmade beds and office cubicles? Part of it is to appreciate the normalcy that makes up my own life and the lives of most of those around me. Part of it is to push back against the culture of social media, and our tendency to turn our feeds into brag reels. And part of it is just to document real life, as unfiltered as possible (literally — no messing with the Instagram filters for this project.) And perhaps the greatest part of it is for me to discover something new about myself or my life by doing this.

Why am I announcing this on my blog that is supposed to be about writing? Because I look at projects such as this one as an extension of the pages I write in my journal every morning, as part of my compulsion to record the mundane and beautiful and painful moments of my life as if they matter — and not to listen to a world that tells us they don’t.