Look a little closer at this photo…
I snapped this photo after filming a video for the marketing team at my publishing company. Since I was all fancied up after the video, I thought that I’d take a picture. Actually it was more like 15-20 pictures before I saw one that I liked. Then, I posted it.
At first, I enjoyed reading all of the lovely comments. A little while later, I noticed that little pile in the background. My pretty picture also included something ugly and for a moment, I wrested with the question, Do I really want people to see what’s going on?
Here’s the deal…I put that pile there last week after I finished moving out of the home that I lived in for over 20 years. My 27-year marriage ended and I’m still trying to figure out what to do with all of the mess. However, at the same time, I’ve got a new project, I’m Waiting, God, coming out this month. Plus, I managed to finish another study coming out April 2020, last week and it’s fall, so I’m headed back out on the road to love and serve people all over. Like the photo, there’s good and bad in my life at the same time. So, I want to reflect that in what I share online.
Life is richest when we show up unashamedly as our whole (not just our best) selves.
There’s a huge temptation on social media to only show what’s pretty and perfect. Let’s be honest, all of the following is true:
We can be amazing at our jobs and a wreck in our personal lives;
Most cheery first-day-of-school photos included early morning hostage negotiations;
Just because someone posts a great profile picture doesn’t mean every part of his or her life is great.
The power of social media is that it captures moments. Social media doesn’t represent every day reality.
How often do you scroll and gaze at photos of your connections and assume that everyone’s life is happier, richer, or more successful than yours? We think that so-and-so’s spouse is more thoughtful, kids are more talented, or friends are more fun. Then, we look around at our lives and feel depressed because we only see our problems and issues. As the saying goes, we compare our basements (everyday messy) to someone designer living room (perfect-looking moment).
Here’s the thing: Everyone’s life has a hot mess pile in the back corner. Only the courageous are willing to show it. We can say that we don’t like Fake-book, but are we willing to be brave and get real on our own social real estate? This has been a journey for me over the past 18 months as I’ve had to make some hard decisions about how real I am about what our family has been going through. Real doesn’t mean TMI, but it does mean letting folks see at least a little corner of the mess.
What if we didn’t crop out the messy moments of our lives?
What if we shared our promotion at work along with a picture of the trashed kitchen because we were working too hard to do the dishes?
What if we let people see the not-so-great selfie along with the one that we loved?
What if we admitted to attending recovery groups, counseling, or prioritizing self-care?
What if we talked about our weight gain instead of only shouting our weight loss?
Look, if you feel like your livelihood, brand, or social capital depends on your image then you do you. However, it’s possible to be strong and vulnerable at the same time. We don’t follow people because they’re flawless, but because they show us how to be brave and courageous in the face of their faults and failures.
So that selfie photo above is me.
A woman who has hope and joy even in the midst of a lot of heartache.
A woman with some messy piles to work through.
Yet, she’s not ashamed of her life.
And she was really happy about having a good hair day.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: Why do you think that people feel pressured to post perfect photos or to present a happier-than-reality life on social media? Leave a comment below.