Social media isn’t real.
And yet, as much as we know this is the truth, we still tend to find self worth in comparing ourselves to people that we see on Instagram and Facebook. Wishing that we could have better legs, or more hair, bigger lips, more put together families, a better marriage. Social media has created this strange space where we are no longer idolizing models and sports figures, but everyday people. Moms that seem to have their shit together. Neighbors that appear to live a rockstar lifestyle. Runners that endlessly crush PR goals. Fitness gurus that appear to have perfect bodies.
We have all been there. Staring at the endless posts of people we barely know, feeling completely inadequate because they seem to be so much better than us. Jealousy kicks in and we start to feel the anger and disappointment in ourselves rear its ugly head. We start to criticize ourselves, our bodies, our abilities, our parenting skills, our marriages. Ripping apart the very fabric of our lives that we felt so sure of prior to opening a seemingly harmless app.
And rationally we know it isn’t real life. Of course it isn’t. We are not imbeciles. We can look at what we post about ourselves and know that we only post the most flattering pictures of our lives. The ones that demonstrate how hot and sexy we are. Or point out how amazing we are at something, some great accomplishment. But even in that knowledge, somehow it still seems to get to us. To make us feel less than. To make us feel like we aren’t good enough somehow. So much so that on occasion I have to take random breaks from even looking at social media to recover.
Then something happened that hit my fear square on the head. I was in Mexico this past week having the time of my life when my hubby took a completely candid picture of me playing in the pool. When he showed it to me, I was horrified and begged him to immediately delete it. I was covered in cellulite and looked at least 15 lbs heavier than I actually am. He wouldn’t stating that he wasn’t looking at my shortcomings, that he was looking at how happy I looked. My panic was that this picture would see the light of day and I would be embarrassed by people knowing I wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t thinking about how happy I looked or about the fact that this was just super bad lighting and a bad angle. I was only thinking about people knowing that I had cellulite. Oh the horror!!
A few minutes later, another picture was taken-better lighting and better posture. I looked like a completely different person. I was hot and sexy again. Upon scrolling through the camera roll and seeing both pictures back to back, I was faced with the notion that we can make others see what we want by simply changing the lighting. We can make others believe that our lives are flawless with very little effort at all.
Now, this post has been one that is very hard to write because in doing so I knew I would have to show the terrible picture and that caused me pause. But I realized that really that’s all it is, a bad picture. And that we all have cellulite (seriously we all do). And that is also all the picture on the right is, a good picture. Nothing less, nothing more. Same butt, better lighting. Neither one makes up the worth of me. And I get to decide how I feel about both. But pictures are just glimpses into our lives. I may look like I have my shit in order on social media, but who doesn’t. I shovel plates of nachos into my pie hole using my nails as a fork, I forget my littles field trip permission slip when it was last day to turn it in, I sometimes feed my family fast food because I am just too tired to deal with cooking, I yell at my husband-even when I know it is my fault. We are all human. We all have shortcomings and failures. We just don’t share them publicly on social media.
So the next time you start to feel the familiar sting of social media, remember that although we know it isn’t what real life looks like we need to put things into perspective. Really back yourself out of that space and try to focus on the fact that you too can take a good picture and you too have great days, and PRs, and rock star trips. And you can even post about them using good lighting. But its okay when you are not on point and barely hanging on by your teeth. You don’t have to post about those times that there isn’t good lighting to be found. Most importantly, those people who you look up to on social media are humans too. They wake up with puffy eyes and blemishes on some days. They probably have their own social media idols and wonder about their shortcomings in comparison.
And if all else fails, remember these pictures of me and at least feel slightly better about the whole thing. Keep in mind that those people that you desperately admire may only be that way because of good lighting.