Kids Motherhood

Dear Kids: You Don’t Ever Have To Pretend

Written by Jessica Johnston

Dear Kids,

The world has gotten more full of pressure to pretend than ever. Social media is overflowing with perfectly poised photos and empty invitations into an idealistic life. Listen to me dear ones; it is EMPTY. No one, ever, in the history of all the world has had a perfect life. Everyone has pain, everyone struggles with loneliness, everyone wrestles with anger, everyone feels insecure sometimes. EVERY ONE. There is no ticket out of the messiness. We can try and control it until our knuckles are white and cramped, but we will lose our joy in the process.

I know, I’ve tried.

There is no friend you can have, no jeans you can wear, no thing you will buy that will ever be enough.

Comparing has always been the stealer of joy, and it is the stealer of the gift of YOU. You, in all your uniqueness.

Sometimes to deal with my pain, I eat a lot of chocolate, or I buy a new shirt or a pretty succulent for the bathroom. Sometimes (all the time) I’d rather be distracted by something fun, than wrestle with my own thoughts and fears. That’s okay, it’s normal. Eating chocolate and wearing new pants does help a little, but it can never be everything.

The most healing comes when I share my struggle and when I tell my truth to someone who is worthy of hearing it.

Sometimes the person who most needs to hear my truth first is me. (Denial is my self preservation of choice.)

The best thing I’ve learned in my adult life, is that I’d rather walk in my truth with a few others, than pretend around hundreds and feel alone.

Telling your truth not only saves your own soul, but it invites others to do the same.

It is a breath of fresh air in a world full of performing.

The brave ones, the ones worthy of our admiration, are the ones who walk through life authentically. TRUST ME THEY ARE OUT THERE. They may not be the most attractive, or the most successful (or they might be), but you will know them by their honesty and by their kindness. You will know them because they will have grace for you, just like they have grace for themselves.

When I was young I would browse magazines and imagine my thighs were that narrow and my cheek bones were that defined. If I looked like the girl on the cover of Health I was SURE everyone would like me then, and I would even like myself. I would finally be confident.

It wasn’t true.

Pretending is the loneliest of professions.

Please don’t pretend. Don’t pretend that there’s never a struggle. Don’t pretend that you always know what you’re doing (because no one does). There is no one to impress.

I know it seems like there’s someone to impress, but I promise, there’s not.

Sometimes those who have everything we think we want, are actually the saddest and the loneliest.



You are allowed to be grumpy with messy hair and homework you forgot to do. That’s an okay thing to be.

You are allowed to be excited for no apparent reason.

You are allowed to need help. We ALL need help sometimes.

You are allowed to be loud, you are allowed to be quiet, you are allowed to be you. In fact, you don’t need anyone’s permission (not even mine) to be you.

Sometimes your grumpiness will be met by my grumpiness, or I’ll react wrongly to your excitement. I will not always get it right, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting it wrong. I’m just figuring it all out too and I promise to apologize when I realize I’ve messed up.

I’d rather be messy with you every day for the rest of my life, than spend one single day pretending.

I’d rather make mistakes and apologize, I’d rather love hard and strong and freely, than sell my soul for a picture of perfection.

Joy is walking through life accepting yourself. It’s walking through life WITH others who really know you. It’s knowing, and believing, you are truly loved and enough EXACTLY how you are right now, today. It’s knowing and believing that there is grace enough for you to be you, in your mess and in your glory too.

I for one adore you, and I always will.



This article was originally published on Wonderoak

About the author

Jessica Johnston

Jessica Johnston is a writer and mom of four kids. She is an avid coffee drinker, risk taker, and TMI sharer. She is a firm believer in keeping it real and believes our imperfections bring us together. She writes at You can follow her there, on Facebook, and on Instagram.