Keeping it Real

by belinda

It’s been quiet around here because I’ve been floundering a bit. Which takes a lot to admit, isn’t that weird? We have no trouble posting all the shiny brilliant parts of our lives on social media, but when it comes to the tricky parts, the stressful parts and the sad parts – we suddenly get all shy. I suppose sadness is personal, it feels more private, while we are more comfortable with our happiness being public. This all adds up to a perfect storm, as we’re constantly seeing only the happy parts of someone’s life. It’s completely distorted.

We may see their beautiful beach picture. We don’t see them on the side losing their temper with whining kids. We see them perfectly made up in their sundress and sandals. We don’t see them sick in bed with dark rings under their eyes, covered in flea bites (this is me guys, I’m talking about myself). It’s a complex issue as I think we also do this because we don’t want to be seen as complaining. We live in a very difficult world, in a divided country, and we have so much more than others, so we feel like we can’t express our real selves because that will seem ungrateful, and possibly even self absorbed.

Well I’m here to say that we need to share the not-so-great bits with each other, too. Because it’s real. Life goes up one minute, and then gets bumpy, and then straightens out, and then may crash for a short time before coming right again. Or sometimes there are several bumps, all in a row. Unpredictable is all we’ve got. And only sharing the highs is like distorting the data. It’s cheating. It makes everyone else walk around thinking there’s something wrong with THEIR graph. Which there isn’t.

So I’m here to speak about the lower bits. Like looking in the mirror and not really loving what you see. Worrying about a parent who’s not well. Lying yourself in bed for 10 days, wondering if you’ll ever have energy again. Feeling fear, waking with your heart racing. Meeting stressful deadlines. Wondering why there are so many bills, and why you have to pay so much tax and where does all your money go? Worrying about the country. Keeping a small business going in a tough economy. Lying awake at night listening to your kid cough, and wondering what’s wrong with him (off to the doctor again today). All these things are hard. And while there are harder things that happen to other people, these are the things happening to you, and they are valid.

I’ve been dealing with anxious feelings and general not-so-goodness by trying to remember to breathe when I feel panicky. I’ve been meditating just five minutes a day, before bed. I went for a massage. I’ve started exercising again, albeit very slowly. I’ve been trying to get lots of sleep, and drink tea, and rest.

Good things are certainly coming. I turn 40 next month. I’m heading on the trip of a lifetime next week with my sister, and I haven’t even had time to get excited about it, until now. I have a beautiful life, but beautiful doesn’t always mean perfect.

Hope you are all getting through winter okay.

Here’s to lighter times, and to keeping it real.




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Steve June 26, 2019 - 12:31 pm

Its a difficult one especially on social media. Most of us follow accounts that inspire us, allow us to escape what for most is a mundane daily routine. It is our briefest escape to stare at a beautiful Italian landscape rather than the spreadsheet on the computer screen in front of us. Unfortunately that sets the standard. When your feed is filled with perfectly styled Parisian apartments or glamorous lives that you aspire to, who wants to see your messy lounge covered in lego and mismatched furniture. Some small part of us feels that if we share this glimpse into our very real lives we might feel like we are a failure compared to those perfectly styled shots where in reality it couldn’t be further from the truth. I do sometimes wonder if as you say, we all shared more of the lower points of our lives would we feel less alone, less burdened by the weight of whats worrying us or would we just add another level of anxiety as we worry if strangers judge us for our life choices.

belinda June 26, 2019 - 4:02 pm

Yes it’s so complex! While I do agree that we follow certain accounts for inspiration, I feel like the opposite thing often happens – in that we end up feeling worse about ourselves and our own lives. Of course, we are all adults and can remove ourselves from social media when this happens, but not many people do! It’s tough, as I’ve gained so much from social media, but it has to be very carefully managed.

Theresa June 28, 2019 - 3:14 am

Social media has become more immediate than actual interpersonal interaction, and it’s easy to get lost in it. Also, its constant renewal means it’s all consuming – arguably magazines have done a similar thing historically but you dipped into this promise of perfection monthly rather than hourly. My take is that it’s ok to have a social highlights reel, but it can’t substitute for real engagement and conversations with real people. I think it’s harder if your job involves a strong presence and you are assessed based on your posts, follows, comments. My social media use is personal, most of the accounts I follow are people being themselves, rather than a curated view of how they would like to be seen. Interestingly, I think the Stories reel on Instagram has exacerbated the problem – only the “very best” things make the wall (is that what it’s called?) – the honest stuff is often only posted in Stories and therefore only persists for 24 hours. I think it’s best to keep editing – if an account leaves you bored, uninspired, feeling lacking, stop following it. That’s what I do.

belinda June 30, 2019 - 1:52 pm

You’re totally right about Instagram Stories vs The Wall! And yes, after real life interactions with real people, I feel fully recharged and positive, not empty, like spending time on social media can do to you. Thanks for the reminders!


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