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woman of the year

The message at the crux of Ariana Grande's Billboard speech is a lesson worth learning

‘You’re not alone.’

LAST NIGHT AT Billboard’s Women in Music event, Ariana Grande made reference to the regularity with which many of us wrongly assume that certain elements of a person’s life comprise one whole picture.

Billboard Women in Music 2018 AP / PA Images AP / PA Images / PA Images

Over the last number of years, I have been routinely reminded that no matter how someone’s life appears on the outside, you can never ever be certain that the exterior matches the interior.

Each and every time I’m reminded of this, I pledge to internalise the message, and keep it at the forefront of my mind in the future.

But – as often happens – time dilutes the initial impression, and it’s not long before circumstance dictates that I re-visit that same lesson with yet another person.

In fact, it’s a lesson I’ve been forced to learn over and over.

Comparing the individual’s outward persona with the situation or information they have disclosed feels like a mammoth effort as I attempt to reconcile the face they have presented to the outside world with the picture they have painted of the life they are actually living.

On the surface, I obviously know that everyone is fighting their own battles, but it’s the magnitude of the battles and the strength of the individuals secretly fighting them that often leaves me berating myself for letting that lesson slide yet again.

Last night, Ariana Grande accepted the award for Woman of the Year, and in an emotionally-charged speech made reference to that very lesson.

Ariana Grande announces world tour Ian West Ian West

“I think a lot of people would look at someone in my position right now and think, ‘She’s really got her shit together,’ Ya know?” she told the audience. “Like ‘She’s really on it.’ Like, ‘She’s got it all.’”

I do, but as far as my personal life goes, I really have no idea what the f**k I’m doing. So yeah, it’s been a very conflicting one.

“I find it interesting that this has been one of the best years of my career and the worst of my life,” she said.

And therein lies the crux of the matter; so often we use just one element of a person’s life, or indeed the picture the paint of it, to construct an entire narrative.

Their outward demeanour, their attitude to work, their tales of a family life so content you can’t help but compare your own to theirs; if you have used any of these to paint your own picture of a person, you’re not alone.

I have been guilty of this countless times, and yet even when a situation arises that reminds me of the inanity of that approach, I often slip back into old habits.

Ariana Grande lives her life in the public eye, the problems which arise in her ‘personal’ life make global headlines on a near daily basis, and yet her speech suggests our knowledge is only the tip of the iceberg – an implication worth remembering.

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