08 Feb Appearances
How many times this week have you scrolled thru social media and thought to yourself, “Wow they are killing it,” “Wow they are in better shape than I am,” “Wow they seem to have an amazing life,” “Wow how do their kids pose so well for the camera and how are they always so well dressed?” How many times have you sized yourself up because of what you see on social media? How many times have you sized up your parenting, your job, your body, your children, or your spouse?
We have become incredibly dependent on social media for validation of all of the above. What we fail to realize is these are just appearances. These frozen moments in time, or short stories, are, most of the time, just a fabrication of real life. Truth be told I’m guilty of sizing myself up. I have been guilty for years. For the longest time I equated my happiness to having a master’s degree (which I don’t have). I would continually look at those around me with that degree and think I didn’t add up. I would see pictures on social media of what appeared to be like successful people and attributed that to having a masters. For the longest time I looked at pictures of people, both friends and complete strangers, who had successful businesses and wondered where I went wrong, especially with my handbag business, and I felt like a failure. For the longest time I would look at others that posted images and videos of workouts and how healthy they were eating and think I wasn’t as fit, good looking or eating as healthy as I should be. For the longest time I would stare at other parents on social media who seemed to have it all together, kids smiling, vacations, relaxing days at the beach and wonder what I could do to “be more like them.” I would ask myself how they went about life seemingly so seamlessly and without anxiety. For the longest time. Guess what I recently realized? I couldn’t have been more off base. Noticed I said recently. 37 years later.
I decided to dig a littler deeper into those pictures and videos others would post. I wanted to know the emotion behind them. I had to believe that things are not always what they appear to be. Turns out I was right (which is not often). Those seemingly happy photos? Those joyous vacations? Those careers? Those pictures of healthy eating and extreme workouts that I thought I should be doing? Nope. There was a completely different reality going on. Friends that have businesses and appear to be at the top of their careers are not 100% happy. In fact they have questioned their direction more times than they could count and have thought about giving up frequently. All that stock I put into having a master’s degree? Most told me that the only reason why they got that degree in the first place was because they had to obtain it because of the field they went into. Those health buffs I longed to be like? You guessed it. They cheated on their diets regularly and many times loathe working out. Those perfect parents that I thought had this parenting thing down felt more like a failure than a winner and most of the time their house was as much of a mess as mine, they put off cleaning until absolutely necessary and can’t remember if they showered half the time. The seemingly perfect pictures of their kids? Yep those were taken in between diaper blowouts, several clothing changes, and tantrums. The point is no one was “killing it” by any stretch of the imagination.
I found that we are more alike than we are unalike. We just don’t want to see it. We want to beat ourselves up, constantly compare, and are continuously striving to be “better.” “Better than what?,” I have to ask myself. We get so caught up in this hamster wheel of saying we aren’t enough or we aren’t good enough and take so much stock in the lives of others. We assume things about others when in reality those assumptions are just smoke and mirrors. Everyone has a story. No one is perfect or has a perfect life. We all have hardships, challenges, moments of weakness (I know I have them most days), and things we would love to change about ourselves. All of this unites us. Don’t get me wrong social media has done a great deal of good for so many of us. We connect with lost friends and family, we find employment, we build businesses and careers and we have a digital place to store important photos and videos of our loved ones, just to name a few. This is not an article on social media but rather the perception of the content that is posted on social media and how we internalize its perceived message.
The next time you decide to log on please know that as a parent you are doing an amazing job messy house, shit show and all. As a friend you are incredibly loyal, perfectly imperfect and someone others are lucky to have in their lives. As a spouse, sibling, cousin, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew and the like there are no words to truly capture how much your family loves you, how much they need you, how much you mean to them and how there isn’t anything they wouldn’t do for you. As an employee, business owner, or start-up the 120% that you give each day will pay off just believe in yourself. As a person you are enough and truly “killing it” in your own way.