The other day a woman I respect and admire from afar (in other words, we know each other, but not real well), wrote to me and said my writing was fearless and helped her get through a difficult time. She also said she wanted to apologize to me for thinking my life was perfect. Holy Cow! Someone thought my life was perfect? MY life? It got me thinking about the image we portray on social media (or real life for that matter), and what really goes on within the walls of our own minds and bodies.
The truth is, most of us don’t post the bad shit all over social media. We have a tendency to think it makes us look like whiny little bitches, so we skip the negative posts and focus on the things that make us happy. I post about my daughter whom I love more than life, my sweet hunky boyfriend, and stories I’ve had the pleasure to write. What you don’t read often on my page is my struggle with an autoimmune disease, childhood trauma, self-esteem and body issues, or a 20 year emotionally abusive relationship I was lucky to put behind me. This is not because I want to portray my life as being perfect, it’s because I prefer to focus on the positive things in my life rather than the struggles.
However, since my conversation with my respected acquaintance, I can see how peering into the filtered lives of others through social media can leave us feeling like our lives are inadequate, or missing something significant.
Two years ago I had a “friend” who stopped talking to me. I really liked this person and thought of her very fondly. When I asked her why she was giving me the cold shoulder, she said (I kid you not), that my ‘love affair’ with my child made her sick—she hated when people always talked about their kids. She also said she was ‘over my burlesque photos,’ where I was partying and having fun with my girlfriends, AND she ‘hated’ the photos I posted of my boyfriend, because she felt I sexualized him because he was attractive. As it turns out, she was not as good of friend as I originally believed her to be. Her cruel rant, however, brought attention to this phenomenon of unintentionally filtering our lives, resulting in the appearance of faux perfection.
We tend to look at life according to Facebook or Instagram, where everyone and everything is beautiful and our lives are tinted with modern-day rose colored glasses (aka Valencia filter). Let me be clear, there’s nothing wrong with sharing the things that make us feel happy and grateful—in fact, please keep doing so. However, life is more than sunsets, cute puppies, yoga poses and tropical cocktails, so sharing the occasional shitty moments can be a good thing as well.
So today I want to bring a bit of reality to social media. Let’s be open and honest about how we feel and what our lives really look like. There are a lot of people out there reading your Facebook page that are struggling. Sometimes that person is me. I’m guessing sometimes that person is you too. Sharing the shitty moments can be just as important as sharing the joys. Life isn’t perfect for anyone—even for that girl with the perfect gym selfie who travels the world with her model boyfriend. I guarantee she has her crappy days, and mornings when she doesn’t want to get out of bed.
So amidst the posts and photos of your adorable pets, delicious dinners, six-pack abs and fun parties (which I love to see by the way), it’s okay to share your struggles and ask for support. There are times when all need a little extra boost from our friends. You just need to reach out and ask.