A while ago Abi, from Vanilla and Lace, posted this on instagram:
If anyone has ever looked at my Instagram and thought I must live a perfectly beautiful life I just wanted to set you straight. For example: what this photo from saturday doesn't show is that I've cried 3 times today, I'm still in gym clothes and no make-up at almost 5pm, I've argued with my husband, I've spent the whole day cleaning my house and my kitchen is still a disaster and I'm so behind on my store work I dread even looking at my to-do list. I don't write this to complain, I'm actually extremely blessed, but just want to be open and give you a realistic view of what a day can look like for me. I struggle with comparison a ton and we all need a little reminder from time to time....and I was reminded how weird the internet is, from the outside looking in. Like... it's weird to me that we have to clarify that our lives aren't perfect. I suppose it can become hard to see that, when we're bombarded with beautiful photos of fun parties, macarons, fancy cocktails, pretty dresses, and craft projects that always turn out wonderfully. But in reality you don't know a single person with a perfect life, so why does the internet make you think that such a person exists? Even celebrities are going to rehab and waking up on the wrong side of the bed and getting speeding tickets. We all know that.
In a piece titled "Please continue instagramming your awesome life" the author rebuts an article written a while ago called "Please stop instagramming your perfect life." I really appreciated the perspective he brings to the issue.
Say your friend Joe Penacoli has just posted another Instagram photo of a before-work ski run, after-work mountain bike ride, or sunset hike. Is your reaction:
a) “Joe is always doing something cool. I hate that guy!”
b) double-tapping the photo, causing a heart to pop up on your screen
If you said a), let me ask you this: If you were having coffee with Joe and he was telling you about his recent vacation, would you listen, nod and become jealous of him and think about how you disliked Joe because he made you feel bad that you hadn’t taken a vacation recently? Or would you listen and say, “Joe, that sounds really great,” and be happy for your friend Joe?
When we "hate" someone for having a perfect looking life, it's not that person's fault for sharing inspiring images, or pictures of fun times their happening. Hi, I'm not going to instagram my migranes or my cry-hangover puffy red face, because ew. That doesn't mean those things don't happen. Of course those things happen because I'm a real person and you're a real person and so is everyone else. I personally do like talking about real life here on the blog, the ups and downs and ins and outs. But being positive and sharing the awesome parts of life isn't a reason to hate a person. And disliking a person sharing happy times speaks more to the jealousy in ones' own heart than to the sharer's life's perfection. Jealousy is an ugly thing and a short-cut to hate, every time. Instead of choosing to hate someone's "perfect" life, why not turn that envy on it's head and choose to live your life the way you want to live it? Instead of hating someone who is living your dream, why not go out and chase that dream? But recognize that chasing your dreams and seeking the life you've always wanted won't mean you don't have shitty days.
I was talking to my best friend the other day, sort of about this. But more about real life, not just perceived online perfection. About how loneliness can be overwhelming at time. About feeling inadequate and unappreciated. Just real stuff that real human beings deal with daily. She mentioned something about how lots of people appreciate me, because I have a blog with lots of readers. It's not real though. This blog isn't real, not in the same way that my relationship with her, or Dan, or my family is. I try to make this space as honest of a reflection of myself and my values and interests and character as I can, but it's still only a dim version of real me living in a physical space interacting with other people face to face. And I can have online relationships that are meaningful, but for the most part my online conversations are no more than surface level, and while deeply appreciated, no amount of, "I love that dress! You look so cute in this outfit" comments can replace a remark from someone who knows you deeply and can give you a compliment that feeds your soul, at precisely the time you needed to hear it. Someone who knows your struggles and has felt you cry.
I don't mean to be dismissive of online comments and social media interactions. I think they can be incredibly meaningful and deep, sometimes just as much as IRL ones. I have an email folder full of deeply moving emails from readers, and I absolutely love reading about your experiences that you've shared in the comments. And even "cute dress!" comments are lovely, because we're sharing an experience, even if it's just liking the same dress. It's human connection, even if it's ever so slight, and across the comments section of a blog.
Bloggers aren't perfect. Nobody is. Some people look more "perfect" than others, sometimes on purpose, sometimes not. Some work hard to put together an appearance of having it all together. Some choose only to share positivity, which can have the effect of making a person look like they have a perfect life. But before you harbor jealousy, envy, and even hate in your own heart towards a person you perceive to have a perfect life, remember that they are a human being just like you. And of course they don't have a perfect life, because obviously. We're all human beings struggling to do the best we can do, let's love each other and support one another through that struggle. Because no matter how awesome your life is (and if it truly is awesome, BOOYAH. Good for you. Enjoy those wonderful moments), you will struggle, and so will I. And we need each other to lean on in those struggles. I think blogging can be a great place to find kindred spirits and encouraging souls. Every time I post about something difficult I've been through, so many people having gone through something similar comment sharing their experience. We feel less alone in our struggles and it makes them a bit easier knowing that others have been through the same thing and have made it to the other side, alive.
top photo by Willow's Photography