Basically the goal of me writing this post it to get you to read this blog post. Please read it. It’s that necessary. It’s stuck with me for weeks now.
Do you ever/did you ever look at friends’ Facebook posts, or hear good news about their lives, and be filled with a combination of jealousy and rage? Sometimes I feel that way and I am so ashamed that I can’t just be happy for other people without feeling like my life in no way measures up. I have good things in my life…but not the marriage, house, and kids that everyone posts a million pictures of. And my instinctual reaction to watching other people be happy is, “Why can’t I be like that?” Sometimes I just have to stop looking because otherwise, it makes me so sad.
Do you relate at all?
I love what she does with the pictured/not pictured thing. Like, I love love it. I love it so much I’m gonna do it. But first I’m going to say some things. About social media. And jealousy. And what it is doing to us.
I’ve been on social media for over fifteen years. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I use social media differently than most people I know. I often bring my rawness here. I aim to share my behind-the-scenes. I give the shit with the show. Generally.
Inevitably there are things you can’t say. Either because you aren’t ready yet or life hasn’t called for it, or fear of appropriateness or consequences sneak in. Quietness settles sometimes, even for me. Those are times when I get frustrated I’m not showing the whole picture. I wholeheartedly believe, somewhere deep and intense inside me, that giving only a piece of the picture is perpetuating a lie. I really believe this. This belief propels me to go deeper, reveal more, process further, etc.
I think we’re seeing this now. This jealousy and insecurity settling in. Settling deep into our bones and seeping from us connection with one another. Social media is doing this to us. The lies produced between our heads and reality are doing this to us. The human condition is doing this to us. This is happening to many people, much of the time nowadays.
If we can’t stop it, we can at least begin talking about it, opening up those jealousy trapdoors we harbor despite our best intentions. Let some of the truth out.
Pictured: Graduating with my Master’s in Social Work and my little family adoring and supporting me.
Not Pictured: Over $100k in student loan debt. Still taking pain pills three months after surgery. Burnt to a crisp after a year of an accelerated grad school program, working and parenting. My parents split up this weekend and my dad moved two hours away to the coast before anyone even told me.
Pictured: 30th birthday bash themed “LBD” (Little Black Dress) with my daughter, sisters, and girlfriends.
Not Pictured: Yelling at my husband a few hours before the party that we needed decorations and games. Dieting for weeks and even months ahead of time. Throwing up in the bathroom after eating the one slice of cheesecake I specifically requested.
Pictured: Downtown Disneyland with my adoring husband and incredibly adorable Elsa-daughter. I’m even wearing Minnie Ears.
Not Pictured: Getting a picture like this on my to-do list for days. Rain pouring down most of our trip. The shit that had blown up at work less than a week before I left that was going to change and strain much of our lives.
Pictured: Me in sunglasses, extra blonde, on the streets of San Francisco with my two daughters.
Not Pictured: Putting half a vacation on a credit card. Lots of worrying about what I could eat and when and occasional throwing up when I didn’t follow my plan. The bickering and exhaustion.
Pictured: Two parents eating breakfast out (with their kids, presumed) at a greasy spoon diner on a weekend morning.
Not pictured: Me crying hysterically the night before telling him I’d been purging again, for years, and finally had started telling people–and getting help–but I couldn’t tell him. Feeling like our whole world got a fresh start and without secrets we could start over. Hope.
Pictured: All of us in a Target dressing room while back-to-school shopping.
Not Pictured: Having to time this with pay day. Getting money from our parents to keep ourselves afloat. Being stressed about a few hundred dollars. My being off my meds and that starting to show in my lowered mood and energy and increased irritability.
Back to Laura’s beautiful take-away:
So, girl, I ask you: what are your feelings telling you? Where do they point? What is it you believe you don’t have, or will lose? When did you learn this, and most importantly, is it true? Maybe you do want what’s in those pictures, but won’t let yourself. Maybe you don’t want what’s in those pictures, but you can’t accept that, because it won’t be celebrated. Maybe you’ve just fallen into the same trap so many of us have, where we believe the highlight reel. You’ve forgotten what’s Not Pictured.
Next time you see one of those posts and you begin to shut down, try this:
Kindly close your computer or phone. Put one hand on your heart, and one hand on your belly. Breathe. Let the stories go and focus on how your body feels. What does it taste like, this emotion? What does it smell like; does it have a sound? Where do you feel it in your body?
What is it trying to tell you? What is it you desire? What are you afraid of wanting, or losing? Where does it point you?
Maybe the first time you will get answers. Maybe it will take 200 more tries. The truth is in there, though.