Recently I was on a Zoom call with an old friend from my past corporate life chatting about everything and nothing at all when he dropped a new word on me. Sonder.
You may be wondering how this amazing new word came up, and without going into too many details, we were discussing an old friendship of mine that disintegrated after I become a mom. I don’t think this story is unique but it comes down to me entering motherhood and really struggling with that, while my friend was happily not a parent and planning never to be one. Our lives diverted, friendship needs weren’t met, and that was the end of that.
For a long time I struggled to accept how it happened, blamed my friend for not being considerate of my new life, but then I realized something.
Everyone is dealing with their own bullshit, their own set of baggage and trauma that propels us to act in the ways we do. Looking back, of course there are things I wish I had played differently, but I was so wrapped up in my new little family that I just didn’t have it in me to prioritize anything else. Same goes for my lost friend, I know she had her own set of things causing her to feel one way or another.
I suppose I’ve been “sondered” in a way, a profound realization that other peoples actions have nothing to do with me (most of the time) and everything to do with them. There’s some serious freedom in that knowledge.
Strangely enough my other application of the word sonder applies to social media. I can think of no better example of the duality that is being human. We strive to display only our best selves on social while consuming the same of others. New parents sit for hours under a nursing babe scrolling photos and videos of other parents who seem to be doing it better. She lost the baby weight, they look so happy, she doesn’t seem anxious or depressed, their kids sleep, they never get mad, I bet they never yell at their kids, her partner is so supportive… on and on it goes until we’re left feeling like we aren’t good enough.
Not only that, but the outrage… the outrage is unreal. Look up your favorite account with 10k+ followers and you’ll see the trolls ripping them apart for being themselves. So many out there project their inner battles outwards by bringing down those around them. Our insecurities propel us to tear apart those who appear to be doing it better than us.
Everyone’s life is complex, we are all battling each day for joy to outweigh the negative emotions. We all have reasons for why we do the things we do. As I’ve gotten older and been through more and more tough moments it has become easier to keep my grip on perspective. I try my best to not worry about other people’s opinions of me or compare my life to others. Trust me when I say I’m not perfect at it but I keep trying.
I’m striving to have more sonder as I move through the world. What about you?