The Game of MASH :: Contentment and Learning to Flourish Where You Are Planted

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Who remembers the game of MASH? For those who aren’t familiar, allow me to explain. MASH is an acronym for Mansion/Apartment/Shack/House. It’s a game of fortune predicting an extravagant and a very unlikely future for yourself.

On a piece of paper, you would create categories and list your dream life (including your ideal job, husband, car, salary — even how many kids you’ll have). One swirly spiral-shaped drawing and some simple math later, your options were narrowed down, determining if you would live in a mansion, apartment, shack, or house.

I was first introduced to MASH one Sunday morning sitting in a church pew. At the time, my ideal life included marrying a Backstreet Boy, driving a Mazda Miata, working on Saturday Night Live, and having millions in the bank. I could only have one child, of course, since my Miata would only seat two. Just being practical.

If I was feeling particularly risky, I would add a horrible option in each category. This would at times leave me broke, living in a shack, married to the weird boy from school, and driving all 24 of my children around in a rusty bus. 

It was a fun kids’ game, completely void of any actual wisdom. And, unfortunately, MASH was an early manifestation of wanting more than what I had.

Twenty Years Later

Twenty years have passed, and no, I did not marry a famous pop star, and I do not drive a car the size of an armpit. I do, however, live in a small house that ironically is the size of an armpit.

In spite of my greatest efforts, I am not a millionaire, nor do I work on a late night sketch show. I parent three kids, and at times, it is so exhausting that it feels like I’m raising 24. It’s safe to say, my MASH dreams didn’t quite pan out.

But, who wouldn’t love to live in a gorgeous mansion with vacation-esque views and an Au Pair to help alleviate the stresses of kids?

While I’m no longer a fan of Miatas, I’d take a Kardashian special and settle for a Mercedes. Of course, I’d really love the financial benefits of my husband being a celebrity. But on the flip side, I don’t think I could handle his fans, and I would probably end up on TMZ for fighting one. 
 
However, this will never be my life, because my reality is the furthest thing from “caviar wishes and champagne dreams”. I may no longer play MASH, but clearly, that mindset of wanting more is still prevalent. Has the incessant need for more grown worse with the rise of social media and social media influencers?

Social Media and Unrealistic Dreams

Social media, in my opinion, is the adult version of MASH. It’s where our unrealistic and materialistic dreams converge to attempt to create a picture-perfect lifestyle. 

Facebook and Instagram influencers proudly show off their luxurious clothes with links that normally send you to some foreign website where everything is 99% off. Then after waiting only seven months for those pants you ordered, they end up barely fitting your two year old.

Our Pinterest boards are categorized with thousands of pictures to include every detail of our dream homes, right down to the very color of grout you’ll one day use in that dream bathroom. Then there are DIY’s on how to paint the bottom of your high heels red so that from a distance you’ll appear wealthy enough to own Louboutins. After all, it’s about the appearance of having it all, rather than the actuality of having it all.

Appearances and Jealousy

The appearance of perfection has quickly become a top priority. These unrealistic expectations plastered all over the Internet have us deceived. Everything looks better through a filter, and I’m beginning to think we’re all just cat-fishing each other.

I have to take regular breaks from social media. If I’m not careful, the unwanted tinge of jealousy creeps in while scrolling through others’ accounts. What I have become is inadequate and the search for more starts over. Living an unsatisfied life is a slippery slope where more is never enough, and the feeling of inadequacy is never subdued.

The Ultimate Goal

There is nothing wrong with setting goals, having dreams, or wanting better. However, I am reminded that contentment is not the same as complacency. The real goal is to flourish where you’re planted. Work with what you have and live life unhindered by the desire for more.

We are all one dumb decision away from losing everything, and how are those DIY Louboutins going to make you feel when you’re living in a shack and driving your kids to school in an old rusty bus? 
   
Regardless of where we end up — a huge mansion, a small apartment, a leaky shack, or just an average house — no one will ever find real happiness or satisfaction in those things. In spite of what all the influencers may say, dreams don’t come true via a discount code.

It’s time to stop mentally playing MASH and comparing ourselves to others. Let’s observe our lives unfiltered with a new perspective. Let’s live a life uninfluenced by comparison and the desire for more. Who’s with me?

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A native to the Birmingham area, Lindsay is a retired professional ballerina. She spent her time training and performing with prestigious dance companies around the country. Now, she is holding down the fort in Alabama, Lindsay lives with her loving husband, Ian and three children Nixson, Lily and Amelia. You’ll find Lindsay sharing her love for dance, as a ballet instructor; and in between the delicate in’s and out’s of being a wife and mother, she manages to squeeze in some time to sweat it out on her yoga mat. An active member of her church, Lindsay lives her life with unwavering faith and love for the Lord. Hoping to spread a little joy and laughter, Lindsay likes to share her life journey and stories from a comical point of view. Striving to live life fully by finding laughter in the chaos.

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