And it’s ok to let the world know you are not ok.
I heard a quote in a Clubhouse room this week, that really struck me and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. It went something like this, “We live in a sad world filled with happy pictures.” The quote described our social media focused lives. It makes me so sad to think that our kids, preteens, teens are growing up not knowing a world without the “happy pictures.” More importantly, while subconsciously I’ve known this reality for a while now, I’m ashamed that I never fully thought of it in these exact terms.
Anyone who’s known me for half a second, knows that I love me some pictures. My kids probably learned to fake smile before they learned to walk. I can’t help it. I get it from my mama. It’s not that I want to paint a false picture of our lives through thousands of happy photographs. My intent to memorialize our lives drives the motivation behind all the pics. I’m hoping the myriad of pictures gives my kids something tangible (if digital pics are considered tangible) to remember their childhood. And I’m also hoping the pics provide something tangible for ME to remember their childhood.
So, hearing this quote in the Clubhouse room, made me start to think am I memorializing the right stuff? Should I only be documenting the good times? Am I sending the right message? I want my kids to know that it truly is ok to NOT be ok. And that the important stuff, the photo worthy stuff, isn’t only the happy stuff.
We build our lives on a mountain of emotions. Emotions such as happiness, sadness, crisis, heartache, love, hurt, surprise, shock and more, fabricate our lives. ALL of it makes us who we are as humans. ALL of it, the good, the bad and the ugly. Why then, do we tend to only showcase the happy moments?
Showcasing the happy didn’t start with the onset of social media. As humans we naturally gravitate towards joyful experiences. Historically, we’ve always shared the highlights. Your kid makes the basketball team, you get a new job, you get a new home, you lose 20 pounds…with or without social media we shared these happy highlights with our loved ones. Your kid didn’t make the team, you lost your job, you lost your home, you gained 20 pounds…radio silence.
So, what’s changed? The difference between then and now is the sheer volume with which people share. The difference between then and now is the quick and easy access to the highlight reel of millions of people. The difference between then and now is plain and simple, social media.
But social media is only the medium, not the culprit. Just like I control what pictures I take of my kids, I control what pictures I post on social media. Just like I control what I shared with my close circle before social media, I control what I share on my Instagram. Maybe we all just need a little more courage to share more of the bad and the ugly. I’m not saying our social media needs to turn into Debbie downer (sorry, Debbie). I don’t think we need to air every piece of dirty laundry on our feed. Some things are certainly meant to remain private. But revealing a dirty sock or stained t-shirt every once in a while could change the landscape of happy pictures into more of a realistic view.
I will be the first to admit I find it very difficult to share a vulnerable part of me to others and definitely on social media. But I’ve learned over the years, and from those rare moments when I did share something vulnerable, that I was not the only one going through, or feeling, something similar. I’ve also learned to appreciate social media as a voice where we can learn from one another. When I think about the possibility that a brave post by me could potentially help someone else, it brings to light the courage to share.
What does being vulnerable look like? It could be something as vague as a request for prayers, or expressing your struggle to balance it all (here’s my secret to balance, BTW) without providing details. Letting people know that your life isn’t all cupcakes and rainbows (or for me, wine and dogs, even though being a dog mom does bring lots of happiness) 100% of the time could make the struggles another person experiences seem more manageable.
So, all I’m saying is I think it would do the world a favor if we share in a more honest and more balanced way on social media. We need to remember that it’s OK to not be ok. We need to remind each other when we forget that it’s OK to not be ok. We need to teach our kids that it’s OK to not be ok. Hear these words from me right now: IT IS OK TO NOT BE OK. What a wonderful world it would be if we could shift the mantra to “we live in a happy world because people truly are happy!”
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