We sat across the table at our favorite Mexican restaurant in small-town Anderson, SC, shoveling chips and cheese dip at our faces like it was our last meal.
I remember this afternoon well, because I remember it being the first scorching hot day we’d had since last summer. I laughed that morning throwing on a pair of shorts I planned to wear, because my white legs clearly hadn’t seen the sun in months.
“I am really, really struggling,” she admitted in our booth as she passed me the bowl of her left over guacamole. “Sometimes I feel like I truly can’t get out of bed. My relationship absolutely sucks, I’m unhappy with how my whole life is right now, and I just feel lonely.”
We continued there at the table for a while, and the night ended with a tight hug and a plan to grab a meal again in the coming weeks.
Getting home, I changed clothes and sat down to catch up on texts and social media. Scrolling through, I came across a pretty picture that my friend from dinner just posted with a caption about her great day, how she’s so happy in her season of life, and how excited she is for next week’s cruise vacation.
My eyes started watering.
I tell this story only to paint a picture, not to pretend that’s something I’ve never done. There are countless times I’ve been really hurting and really struggling, only to put a bow on it for everyone else.
My question is this: when did lying about our emotional state become a norm?
Yeah, I had the worst day I’ve ever had today, or yeah I’m really upset that my anxiety is back again, or I feel like I’m failing at raising my kids, or my dad isn’t around anymore, or I’m really struggling with an eating disorder and I’m hating who I am in the mirror—but I think I’ll just say everything’s so good because I want to post this trendy, edited picture of a plant.
WE CAN MAKE OUR LIFE LOOK BETTER THAN IT IS. AND THAT’S KIND OF TERRIFYING.
We want people to connect with us, and there’s no harm in that, but somehow our good intentions get lost by trying to make our ugly, pretty– especially on social media.
We can make our life look almost-perfect… but why would we want to?
I’m nervous for this next generation of kids who are watching us adults live two completely separate lives, and start believing that’s a healthy way to live.
I speak through an embarrassing amount of experience in this, because I walk that line every day. The world today is finally shedding light on people who don’t just sit in a corporate office, but also on those with creativity, and I fit in there somewhere.
I genuinely enjoy beautiful photos, and beautiful words, and beautiful homes, and beautiful locations; my eye has a knack for what I think is beauty. Like yours, too.
But can I just say this:
MAKING A DIFFERENCE AND BEING COMPLETE DOES NOT CORRELATE WITH A CONSISTENTLY-FILTERED INSTAGRAM PAGE OR WELL-WORDED CAPTIONS, NOR DOES IT DO US OR OUR “FOLLOWERS” ANY GOOD TO FIB HAPPINESS ON CYBER-SPACE. IT’S ACTUALLY COMPLETELY HUMAN TO NOT BE OKAY SOMETIMES… MOST TIMES.
So, maybe we’re all just really insecure?
Maybe it really does boil down to what we’ve all heard before about comparison and jealousy and envy?
And maybe we haven’t given enough thought to our emotional health on social media, or really in general?
We are walking a fine line, with the world moving and changing so quickly, and screen time taking up more time than our time spent together.
I can’t tell the future, but I am not sure this instant connecting with hundreds of other people will ever go away. In fact, I think social media will probably morph itself into something even more vast—which is not bad.
What is bad is when we are putting more effort into our portrayal than we are our person.
This idea that seems to be gaining momentum every day about life having to seem a certain way has got to stop. And it starts with us.
Instagram is not the enemy. Photography, thank goodness, is not the enemy. LikeToKnowIt, blogging, and creativity is not the enemy.
Satan is. And we’re downright silly to think he’s not lurking in the shadows of all this, out to destroy the self esteem of amazing people all because of this invisible pressure.
And I think Ann Voskamp said it best when she wrote, “Everyone’s just asking if they can be loved”, because isn’t that what we’re doing?
Isn’t that why we try so hard for this?
We’re really just asking if everyone else sees our greatness. We’re asking if we can be accepted. We’re asking if we’re good enough.
And even in our success, even in our greatness, we’ve gotta turn the spotlight back to God.
No more pretending. No more posts to make a name for ourselves. No more doing things just for a pretty picture. No more wasted time.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15
Jesus THANK YOU for friendships, community, life in lungs, beauty, and connecting. We need your strength to navigate our lives, and your guidance in how we use our words, free time, passions and gifts. Please help us to be real with you and with ourselves so that we can be real with others. Please help us to not live under the lie that we have to make our ugly, pretty.