Vulnerability and The Myth of the Picture Perfect Anything
“Don’t compare your inside to someone else’s outside.” – unknown
The fantasy of a simple, perfect life is sometimes just as disturbing as the carefully styled myth of a Pottery Barn catalog. Logically, we know things aren’t always as they appear, but we’ve all fallen prey to comparing our inside with someone else’s outside at one time or another. Instagram, Pinterest and your favorite blogs make it so easy to go there.
Most of us are readers and publishers today because we consume and share information on a regular basis. While it’s more fun to share the beautiful and inspiring, we have a responsibility as publishers to be transparent and vulnerable. It’s that vulnerability that connects us with each other. As readers, we have a responsibility to understand that one person’s heart, soul and life experience cannot be shared in one image or five hundred words. If we can soften our approach from both sides we can find a place to meet in the middle, to truly connect.
If you’ve noticed that other people’s carefully arranged lunches on Instagram or Facebook look better than your daily sandwich or salad, remember that they are in fact often styled or filtered. Apply your own filter to how you process the information.
I’ve heard the following from friends, family and clients:
- “She lives in NYC. She has the best life.” based on an Instagram collection of pretty, pink macaroon images and couples on park benches.
- “Look how successful he is” based on a great website design.
- “She is so lucky. She has more than 20,000 Twitter followers.”
Think about the snap judgements you’ve made or how you might compare yourself to something when you don’t have enough information to make a realistic assessment . Based on one tweet, Facebook post or shared image, you might decide that your business is a failure, your relationship is inferior and your lunch sucks. Comparison isn’t a new problem, but much more prevalent thanks to the fact that anyone can share anything anytime.
Apply a new filter
Let’s be inspired by the beauty shared online instead of shamed or envious. People that eat pretty food, or live with less, or strive for more are still people. They still experience ups and downs and set backs.
In the past 10 days, my life has been crazy. I’ve had really high highs and really low lows along with an upper respiratory infection, sick child, hellos, and goodbyes. It’s been the kind of 10 days that could bring a girl down, but when I rewind 11 days and think about how I felt before the high highs and low lows, I was happy and grateful and feeling completely blessed. In that rewind, I could easily see the benefit of sharing somethings and not all the things. There is much to be said about under-reacting.
As wonderful as someone’s life looks online or even in person, they still experience heartache, worry, and disappointment. They get sad, and hurt and sick. They have bad days and weeks.
Things aren’t always as they seem. I am in the picture above with my dad. We could be anywhere, having a blast, taking pictures of ourselves. We are actually at the airport and just shared a long hug goodbye. I’ve got a big smile on my face, but even bigger tears pooled in my eyes behind the sunglasses.
Maybe I should have taken off my sunglasses. While I try to be transparent and honest, I don’t always share the high highs or low lows. Instead, I want to share things that will help you grow and change when you are ready. I want to inspire and inform. That said, I know that to truly connect, I have to share my real life and the real me. I am happier than I’ve probably ever been in my life and continue to cultivate gratitude, joy and happiness, but I still have to do laundry and clean up cat vomit. I still experience rejection, infection and all of the other day-to-day things that make a life a life. I’m just like you.
Use images and stories as inspiration and information. Use them as a guide, but not a way to measure your success or happiness. Your life is no more or less beautiful because someone else has (or appears to have ) a beautiful life. There is enough to celebrate and appreciate. There is enough to go around.
When you being to deeply appreciate what you have and who you are, you can be happy for everyone around you without judgement or comparison. Read and consume information that inspires you to live your best life. Live your story and share your beautiful life, but don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, to be real, and to be loved.
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