A few months ago, I asked people on Facebook if they ever felt discouraged scrolling through countless pictures where everyone looked perfect, polished and everything seemed so positive. And then I came out of my comfort zone and posted the following pics:
The response I got from people was overwhelming. Many said my post and pics were refreshing and encouraging to them. Some agreed that they too felt discouraged by the false reality they see on Facebook.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the lie that everyone has it all together. Or that what you see on Facebook is what your life should look like. (And if you really want to take it a step further, check out Pinterest!)
Perfect kids. Immaculate homes. Tantalizing meals that could be on the cover of a magazine. Flawless and polished selfies. Yep. I’ve seen all of these. And yes, I have posted all of these. I’ve proudly posted my kids’ achievements, my exciting celebrations, and of course the perfect date night pics with my husband. I’ll even admit to taking 10 selfies before choosing the best one!
There’s nothing wrong in and of itself for us to post these things on social media. So please hear me out on this. I’m not saying we should all stop posting the highlights of our lives to share with friends and family.
But what I am saying is this:
Let’s not compare the highlights of other people’s lives with the messy reality of our own lives. For every “highlight” pic you are viewing there are probably 10 other pics of real life you’re not seeing.
For the perfect date night pic you see of your friend, you’re not seeing the pic of the argument that spun out of control on the way home from that date.
For the polished pic of your old high school buddy, you’re not seeing the pic of what she looks like in the morning before she gets her makeup and hair in place.
For the pic of your neighbor’s kids playing their best at a competitive sports game, you’re not seeing the pic of that same kid having a melt-down the next morning getting ready for school.
For the pic of your co-worker’s gathering at her house with everything perfectly in place, you’re not seeing the pic of her house the day before where everything was a disaster and she was yelling at her kids and husband to help her get everything ready. (Why do I know so many details about this?)
For the pic of your friend’s perfectly healthy dinner, you’re not seeing the leftovers she served her family two nights in a row. Or (gasp!) the cheeseburgers and fries she desperately gave her kids from McDonald’s drive-through on the way to soccer practice.
It’s easy for us to fall into a rut of thinking that everyone has it all together. That nobody struggles with anything. That something must be wrong with us. And when we are bombarded with perfect images plastered all over social media, we buy into the perception of this false reality.
Our comparison of reality to something false only breeds disappointment, discouragement and insecurity.
So what can we do differently? How do we avoid this trap?
I don’t think we should just delete all our social media accounts and say forget it. No, I think there’s a better solution.
Instead of always posting your BEST moments, how about courageously choosing some that aren’t so great? Choose to be REAL.
If my 4 pictures of a messy house and no makeup brought so much encouragement and refreshment to so many people, then what would happen if more of us did the same? What if we chose to be REAL and it trickled down to countless others who are definitely feeling the same way? Think about the ripple effect it could have.
Go ahead and be brave!
Show that pic of your dirty laundry (okay, maybe hide your husband’s underwear.)
Show that pic of your burnt dinner.
Show that pic of your living room littered with toys.
Show the clutter plastered in the floorboard of your car (yes, I’m talking about the fast-food wrappers, empty water bottles and sticky sippy cups.)
Show your “bad-hair” days!!!
It doesn’t even have to be a picture. Maybe a simple statement that you’re having a rough day…with your kids. With your spouse. With work. With life.
Will you join me? If you’re on social media, how about using the label #RealLife with your posts or pics? Whether it’s once a week or every other day, join me in encouraging others with reminders that we all struggle. We all have messes to clean up. We all have challenges with our kids, spouses or co-workers.
We don’t live in a false reality. We live in REAL LIFE!
Blessings to you!
Check out my book, Embracing The Race: 40 Devotions for the Runner’s Soul