Hey folks. I’m not feeling so good about myself today. It’s something I know you’ve felt, too – a classic case of comparing myself to others based on the things that they choose to share with the world on social media. I want to talk about that a little bit with you, because no one is alone here.
I feel like my career hasn’t progressed in the manner I envisioned at this point in time. I haven’t paid off enough of my debt. I’m working too much with little time for play or leisure. I’m losing my grip on my health because I don’t have time to cook nice meals or exercise the way I’d like.
I see others whose careers have skyrocketed, gaining them money and a sense of purpose. Others who have perfect bodies, all the time to cook and improve their health and all that jazz. Others who spend their time off doing adventurous things that look like a LOT of fun. I want that.
Suddenly, a whirlwind of yearning for something external sweeps me out of the present moment and into a different, socially projected life.
I look down and see shoes I don’t recognize. I can’t step any which way. I’m glued there, not rooted, glued… looking around at all the glory and joy and success. I can’t find a mirror, and even if I could, how would I get there?
I have removed myself from the present moment. I have drawn my Self out of my body and gaze out the window, day dreaming. I don’t see the trees swaying in crisp VT wind as Spring crests out of the ground in the form of water. I don’t see melted Earth intertwining its elements and breathing the energy the day has brought, drinking the drink.
I lose all that, and imagine an entirely different life. An Instagram life.
Everything looks so good when you get to choose what people see, doesn’t it?
Instagram feeds are piled up and overflowing with idealistic, and/or perfectly timed, photo-shopped images that embody a false sense of the perfection of life and make us yearn for it.
Not that the perfection of life doesn’t exist, but it exists in a very different sense – one derived from a place of balance, of yin and yang, of problems and solutions.
Problems and solutions perform a balancing act that determines how “perfect” we might see our lives. This act differs vastly person to person. Problems and solutions share an intimate relationship in maintaining our lives’ perfection, and we share an intimate relationship with these problems and solutions that determines how we feel about our existence here.
For the sake of the conversation, let’s say that “problems” symbolize imperfections in our lives, and “solutions” symbolize little perfections. When you look at an Instagram feed, what do you see, mostly? Do you see problems? Or do you see solutions?
Likely, you see solutions. Hate your body? It’s okay, you can look like THIS! Hate where you live? That’s alright, if you do what I do, you can live HERE!
Really, we all want to look good to our fellow humans. We want to look like we’re doing well while doing good, so it’s pretty natural that we post the solutions in our life as opposed to the problems and make everything look picture perfect – it’s a part of our image, and we want to be looked up to, admired, appreciated.
Everyone wants to be noticed. It’s easy to be noticed when your life looks perfect because humans want to surround ourselves, naturally, with an aura of positivity and a group of inspiring people who can maybe show us the way.
But what if the collection of people and pages we follow, that is supposed to help guide us or lead the way, leaves a lot of stuff out?
Wait… This all makes perfect sense!
From the eye of the Poster:
“I want to be noticed” —> Posts only about life’s little perfections, leaves out the ugly —->
Gains lots of followers —-> Notices that the perfect things gain followers and attention —->
posts even more perfection, leaves out even MORE ugly
From the eye of the Postee (cute name for follower):
Desire to improve the life of oneself —> Follows people who lead a life of appeal in an effort to surround self with positivity and inspirations —> sees perfect pictures —> realizes oneself is not yet there —> feels bad about oneself —> depression, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy
So I’ll say it one more time… what if the collection of people and pages we follow, that is supposed to help guide us or lead the way, leaves a lot of stuff out?
What if they show us how life is brimming with solutions and perfections – beautiful gardens, (although perhaps attainable) unrealistic bodies, glimmering constellations, sparkling white sandy beaches, love in all forms; but leave out the fact that there are ALWAYS problems – guards before bridges, passwords we’ve forgotten or were never given, sore and aching souls and hearts, pain, loss, tears, fear, loneliness…?
That’s where this FALSE sense of life’s perfection is born. This false sense teaches us that life is perfect without problems, but leaves out the fact that problems are a part of the perfection.
Without problems for us to solve, it’s hard to derive purpose from anything. Solving problems makes us feel good, as though we’ve accomplished something, as though we’ve contributed, as though we belong… a SUPER innate need of human beings.
It’s easy to forget that the icons behind these feeds are human, too. They too have struggles., The things they show you – a good paying job, adventures in the sun or overseas, and money, (although they may help) – are solutions to problems they have had, but are not conducive to their happiness.
Remember, these feeds are not real lives. These feeds are snippets of moments that look good, and can easily turn into projections of false perfection. Although a lot of it may be real joy, real happiness, real “perfection,” it all comes and goes in waves. It waxes and wanes and maintains balance, across the board, in all lives.
All of a sudden the realization of my stepping out of the present moments brings itself to me.
Flash forward, and here I am. Back in my own shoes, returned safely to the present moment. I step outside. Feel the breeze in my face. Clench my fists, stretch my fingers. Close my eyes. Feel the energy in the spaces between my toes. Go back in, snag a cup o’ Joe. Find my way home again, and slip into the bliss that is my life. All confusions, problems, everything aside… I feel adequate.
No one has solutions only. It’s okay that you have problems and don’t live an Instagram life.
Those people whose lives look perfect on social media… well, they have a Real Life too. Just like you n’ me.