Truthfully, I resisted social media & the blogosphere for a long time. I was too aware of the toll being “online” was taking -- the young people seeing me in therapy who were hiding in their bedrooms, agonizing over photos and likes. So often, they would report being ‘connected’ yet confess to feeling desperately isolated and alone. We talked about how they seemed uncomfortable in their own skin, disconnected from their ‘real’ selves. They struggled with the sense that everyone else had picture-perfect lives, unable to recognize that others were also riddled with insecurity and hidden behind facades.
Secrets of a Happy Life: Don't Compare, Don't Compete
"When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete, everyone will respect you." - Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
Part of my goal in entering the online world was to keep it real. None of us has a perfect life, regardless of the image we project. I have worked hard and built what I think is a very good one, but I would never claim to have it all figured out. There have been times I have yelled at one of my kids when what they really needed was a hug, times I have loathed myself for not being better or doing more, and times I have broken down in tears wondering if I could keeping going at all...
Perhaps this is yet another reminder that we are in this crazy, beautiful life together. There is no place for contempt or stone-throwing. And, as hard as it is, we need to avoid comparing ourselves to the often idealized images portrayed in the media (by ‘us’ and ‘them’). Everyone has a story and we don’t know the full cast of characters or the intricate details of their past or present plotlines. Social media shows us hand-selected snippets, the rough bits filtered out.
Creating Your Own Happiness: Own Your Story, Find Your Tribe
Perhaps, too, we need to stop and ask what holds us back from showing our authentic selves. Yes, it’s fear, but fear of what? Judgement? Ridicule? That we will be loved less or deemed unworthy or unlikeable? Sometimes when we strip it back, we realize that our fears are unfounded. The people in our corner don’t feel differently if we post photos without getting our hair done or putting makeup on (in fact, our confidence radiates beauty and they often like those photos best!). My true friends like me more for admitting my mistakes and showing my scars, not less. My fallibility, my honesty, make me real and approachable and human.
Other times, our fear is there to remind us that we care deeply. I was afraid to launch my website, afraid of the response, because this endeavour matters to me. Really, really matters. But likes and comments don’t make or break that. Just as they don’t quantify your value or your significance. I am here and I have something to say, something worthwhile. As do you. As do we all. Let’s focus on supporting each other to be the best, real, perfectly imperfect people we can be.