You know the one I am talking about.
The one who always looks gorgeous.
Even at the school gates when you’re in your Primark gym kit with an elastic band pulling your greasy hair back, she is looks stunning and her make-up has been perfectly applied.
Her clothes are clean and pressed, probably straight from the dry cleaners.
Scuffed shoes, nope, they shine and have a heel she can walk in!
The smile shows no trace of cornflakes, just bright, white teeth.
Brings homemade cakes to class sale, Mr Kippling is nowhere to be seen.
Early for pick up.
Never late for open evenings or plays.
The house is immaculate, without the help of a cleaner.
The kids are super cute and matchy, matchy with no Disney characters or garish glitter in sight.
Work seems effortless, with promotions and rises that pay for lavish holidays.
Her husband is attentive and they look so in love.
The PTA is a breeze and that early morning Pilates session has been done before most of us have pressed the snooze button for the third time.
She is just so strong.
So ambitious and driven.
Not a bit of gossip passes her lips.
Life looks ideal.
Social media is more of the same.
Only, do you wonder why she doesn’t have more than one glass of wine?
That she doesn’t ‘do’ carbs.
How her photos on Facebook are never without a filter or frame?
How sometimes she looks like she isn’t quite focussing.
That she’s a little vacant.
She seemed to have it all.
Adoring fans and huge respect from the fashion world.
Then, she was gone.
The reality is, life can be tough but we can be tempted to paint the picture we want others to see.
Social media has ramped up the need to be a glossy version of perfection, and so many of us feel like we need to ‘look’ like we have got our shit together even when life is falling apart.
Keeping it real actually takes more courage than showing only the best bits.
The reality is, we just don’t know what is happening in someone else’s life.
I remember one of my friends at university was always perfectly turned out for every lecture.
Always early with her work done, while I snuck into the back of the room, still slightly tipsy from the 50p triples at the bar the night before, claiming I left my essay on the bus.
There she was with glossy hair, roll neck and jeans and skin fresher than any of us.
We shopped in Morrisons, she was at the M&S foodhall.
There were slugs in our student digs but they weren’t even in her garden in the suburbs of the city.
The thing was, her boyfriend didn’t let her go out, so there were no hangovers.
He controlled the money.
It was his flat.
There were no drinks after lectures, because he would be there, with a crocodile smile, to collect her.
It was summer, but her arms were covered in bruises from where he hit her, so that was why she didn’t wear t-shirts like the rest of us.
The smile was hiding the sadness in her eyes that she covered with the designer sunglasses he gave her to say sorry for that punch in the stomach for looking at him the wrong way.
We only knew about this when she no longer came to class and had escaped his clutches and gone back home back to her parents.
The letter was sad.
We felt so bad.
We had no idea.
Too young and naive to think this could happen at 19.
The friend who smiled at my wedding and looked happy for me, but the tears were actually hiding the secret that she had a terminal illness but didn’t want to tell anyone.
I never saw her again.
I wish I had called when her out of office kept popping up as I sent wedding present thank yous and news.
But I had a newborn and was exhausted.
I failed her.
I didn’t check in on her.
The strong friend who actually hated her life but didn’t want to tell anyone and one day just ran out of her job and started over in a new city.
You see, we all have one of those strong friends and we don’t always check she is ok because it just looks like she is.
And maybe she is, but it is good to ask!
p.s – it’s nice to be back and don’t worry, this isn’t me but it might be someone you do know x