Friday, 24 October 2014

Tell Me I'm Beautiful

The sun shines through the window, warming my face as I tuck my feet further under the blanket.

Scratchy throat, tired eyes, aching head.

A morning where I moved from the bed to the couch, listening to Kelly and Michael banter back and forth, with no energy to even pour myself a bowl of cereal. Sure signs of a full fledged cold.

I whine to Brandon to tuck me in and bring me a bowl of Life. Is dairy good for a sore throat? Probably not. I will probably regret not having the oatmeal.

He heads out the door, off to face his busy day and I am left on the couch with too much time. Not enough energy to do school work and yet not tired enough to sleep.

I scroll through my newsfeed, twitter, and instagram. I see post after post of ‘selfies’, adventures, and buzzfeed lists to laugh through. I see inspirational quotes, recipes, and self-proclaimed goals filling status updates. Birthday celebrations, event requests, new ‘likes’ and friends.

So much going on in the little world that is only accessible by sitting behind a screen.

And I feel the comparison game begin.

I’m not productive enough, adventurous enough, pretty enough. I don’t have enough going on in my life or I have too much. I over think my own page, sinking into vanity and pride.

I want to do more, be more, only to impress and publically proclaim my adventures and accomplishments over social media. I want the right angles, pictures taken from my ‘good side’, and only posts that make me look like I have it all together to be shown.

And as I scroll, I realize I am not alone.

It is not wrong to put our best foot forward. It is not wrong to post a photo that we think we look beautiful in. It’s not wrong to share our thoughts, goals, and joys instantaneously with others.

It is a way to stay connected, to catch up, and to see what is happening in the lives of our friends.

The problem comes when all we see is the good in others and the difficulties in ourselves.

We forget that everyone is putting their best foot forward. Everyone has taken twenty (at least twenty!) photos of themselves before finding one that they like enough to share with the world. Everyone is showing the good, but off screen, everyone deals with the bad.

It is not just you and it is not just me.

I am not advocating for everyone to suddenly post every depressing thing that has ever happened to them. It is not about seeking sympathy or putting it all out on the line, or should I say the status update. But perhaps we need a reminder that what we see is not all there is.

We don’t see the full reality when we only have 40 characters to portray it.

Real life is messier, longer, and more complex than what is ever displayed on social media. Behind each picture is a real person. Behind each update are a thousand other possible posts that may not be so thrilling, adventurous, or beautiful.

We fall into a game of comparison with the best possible version of everyone we know. And then when we struggle, we hurt, we don’t feel good enough... we feel alone.

Because everyone else is laughing at the top 10 most awkward family photos on buzzfeed, or posting a picture of their grand adventure across the world, or talking about their new [fill in the blank].

And I am no stranger to this game. I do it too. I post the best, most exciting elements of life.

And overall, life is good! I am happy for those who have exciting things going on, I like to feel connected. But I must constantly remind myself that people go deeper than the photo they post. There is always more going on.

It is about asking the harder questions. Taking the time to go out and really chat with these friends that we ‘keep up with’ on social media. Really living life together and giving one another permission to be real.

So as I sit here, sick on the couch, I find myself in this same boat. I just posted a new profile picture – after taking thirty that didn’t make the cut – and feeling this great sense of realization that perhaps those 29 that will never be seen may depict a better version of me than the one that will get all the ‘likes’.

So as we post, tweet, and share, we need to remember to be real. And if you might be feeling a little less than, start looking a little closer. Walk with those around you, share life, show off your natural beauty and the messiness that life can bring.

It may not get as many ‘likes’ but I promise that it will leave you more fulfilled.

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