Have you noticed? I’ve been MIA. We’ve transitioned to summer time, and the hours have been slipping through my fingers. The transition from school to summer is always somewhat of a jolt (I have school-aged kids, so while they are the ones making the real transition, it definitely impacts us parents too), as we simultaneously try to shift into summer mode – pool time, friend time, play time, beach time – and juggle different schedules virtually every week. Suffice it to say, I’m tired. I’m guessing I’m not the only one!
While I love summer, I also feel a tiny bit of dread about summer. I always feel more pressure during the summer to make everything AWESOME. To help my children feel the magic of summer, that summertime “buzz” that comes when school’s out (thanks, Will Smith). To not just shuffle them straight from the last day of school to the first day of summer camp with barely a breath or a barbecue in between.
So because I’m deep in kid mode, struggling with awesomeness, and tired out by the month of June, today’s blog is a tribute to one of my favorite kids’ movie franchises.
Dear Lego Movie creators and writers,
What can I say? I loved the original Lego Movie when it first came out. I loved your amazing ability to appeal to parents and children alike. I jittered around the house singing “Everything is Awesome” and saying “Honey, where are my paaaaaaaaants?” like so many other Gen X parents out there. I still giggle uncontrollably with my kids at various points regardless of the fact that it’s likely I’ve seen it 15 times by now. I didn’t think I could love you more.
And then I saw the second Lego Movie. And just as my love for my children impossibly increases every day, my love for you, dear Lego Movie creators and writers, increased as well. All because of that brilliant adaptation of the song from the first movie:
Everything’s Not Awesome:
Everything’s not awesome
Things can’t be awesome all of the time
It’s an unrealistic expectation
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try
To make everything awesome
In a less idealistic kind of way
We should maybe aim for not bad
‘Cause not bad, well that would be real great
There’s more to it of course, but that’s my favorite part. Thank you, Lego Movie creators! Of COURSE things can’t be awesome all of the time! Why do we set ourselves up for this “unrealistic expectation”? Through the pressure we (I) put on ourselves (myself) for summertime awesomeness, edited life stories on social media, unrealistic portrayals of love and success through movies and shows, even sometimes by what we share in casual conversation? Why?
My daughter pointed out that there are 2 ways you could interpret this song. 1) Everything is not awesome = nothing is awesome; or 2) EVERYthing’s not awesome = some things might be awesome, but some things definitely aren’t. I personally hear it the second way. EVERYthing is not awesome. Some things suck. Some things are kind of a bummer. Some things are pretty ok. And of course SOME things are awesome (like this song, and occasionally our summer days).
In psychology we call this a maladaptive (or unhelpful) thought pattern – All or nothing thinking. You can catch yourself in all-or-nothing thinking when you use words like “everything,” “nothing,” “always,” or “never.” All black and white, no shades of grey. It’s awesome or it sucks. It’s great or it’s awful. You’re a success or you’re a failure. It’s easy to slip into this kind of thinking, because (frankly) it’s easier to put everything into big easily defined categories instead of taking the time to really parse things out. “Yes, I feel crappy about X happening today, but then Y happened and that was ok.” This kind of all-or-nothing thinking is often lingering in the background of many of the struggles people experience that cause them to seek out counseling – depression, anxiety, perfectionism, even issues in relationships.
This summer, as you are soaking in the sun’s rays (or just going about your normal business) I invite you to see the gray areas. Notice the middle of the spectrum – not just the black and white, all-or-nothing, success or failure categories, but the complexity of all those things. Then on those days when things do feel particularly not awesome, go ahead and aim for not bad…because hey, that could be real great!