What You See Isn't Always Real Life
Here's an example of what your friends aren't posting
Do you find that you sometimes go into comparison or defeatist mode when you go on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter?
I often do.
In the words of Tony Robbins, I have the tendency to "should all over myself".
When I see my girlfriend picking strawberries with her family, I think "Why didn't I think of that?! I should take my girls to pick strawberries too!".
When I see my friend making homemade cleaning products, I think "Oh that's so much better for the environment. I should do that too!"
When I see other health coaches creating videos and killer content, I think "Ugh, I'm so far away from adding the value I want to add. I should do this, that, or the other thing to gain traction and get ahead!"
My "should-be-doings" often make my inner critic spiral out of control. It starts judging me against everyone else and lets me know precisely where I fall short. I ultimately walk away feeling defeated and like I am not a good enough mom, wife, friend, health coach, etc.
And this is why when you engage in social media, I think it is important to become aware of the dialogue in your head as you scroll down through the images and the posts. I also think it is important to remain objective and remind yourself that social media NEVER tells the whole story.
To illustrate this point, I'm going to share something with you that happened just this past weekend. Check out the video below of my youngest daughter learning to ride her bike.
What are your initial thoughts when you see this video?
Maybe something along the lines of "Look at that! She's riding her bike!! Mom and dad are so proud!! And how sweet, big sis is right there cheering her on!!"
And if you have a child around the same age who isn't quite riding his or her bike perhaps "Damn, I should probably get my kid on two wheels too."
Yes, it was truly a very exciting moment and we are incredibly proud of my youngest daughter. But would you like to know what ACTUALLY happened immediately following this video?
Here is what you don't see...
You don't see my oldest sulking because she feels left out because my youngest is getting all the attention.
You don't see my oldest then proceeding to whine about how unfair her life is. Because apparently it is super unfair that we bought her a brand new bike just hours earlier. Her sister is learning to ride on her OLD bike and the only thing she can focus on is the fact that her sister picked out a new doll because she got a new bike. The bike wasn't good enough. She wanted the doll.
And you don't see me walking away out of complete frustration and picking up the phone to call my mom and express my concerns over my kid becoming, in my choice words of the moment, "an ungrateful little shit".
Now I love my children dearly. And I get it. She is only 8. It's hard to be the big sister. And through her eyes, it did feel unfair and she did feel left out. I do my best to honor that and parent accordingly.
But the point is, you don't see ANY of this. All of what actually happened gets completely lost in the surface level, celebratory video.
And please don't misunderstand. I'm not against social media or the posts on social media. I have all three accounts and enjoy the connection that social media provides as well as the posts that my friends share.
However, it is so important to remember that what you see is not exactly reality.
No one always has it completely together. There is no such thing as perfection. And at the ripe old age of 39, I see that the beauty is actually in connecting with others over the imperfection. It is in allowing yourself to be vulnerable and authentic.
I think most of us understand this on some level but it is so easy to forget. Especially when we see images of our friends looking happy, successful, and accomplished. And having experiences that we desire to have too.
But the next time you are on social media and walk away feeling a little down or find that you slip into comparison mode just remember this story and this video.
Give yourself some grace and know that:
This article is also published at Thrive Global.