The other day, I received a DM from an Instagram story. It wasn’t a fabulous story. It was neither styled, nor super-posed. Just me in my bathroom, with bad lighting, highlighting some retro spirit wear that I was sporting to my Ella’s volleyball game.
The message, basically, said,
“Your house is so perfect.”
“Your life is so perfect.”
I was taken back.
I know we all look at Instagram and think similar thoughts about others. I know . . . because I think them too.
Even though, I know better.
Even though, my rational mind tells me otherwise.
Even though, I might know the person in real life (meaning I know what their life looks like beyond the grid).
(Here’s what I know and what I wrote about in a La La Lovely (get it to read more on this)….algorithms are tailored to our ache. What might stop your scroll, may not stop me. What stops me, may not stop you. What I see as perfect in someone else’s life is likely what I feel I’m lacking or is “not good enough” in me or my life).
While I, too, can so easily look at someone else’s feed and believe that their life is pretty close to perfect, I didn’t like the idea of someone else thinking that about my life.
Because . . .
I KNOW! I know that my life is not perfect (farrrr from).
Last year, when my sister was visiting home, I think while snapping a photo for me, she said, “Don’t you ever think that people may look at your life and think that is pretty perfect? That they might look at your life and feel bad about theirs?”
My honest reply was something like: “Well my life isn’t. And, I try to share the beauty and the pain. The memorable moments and the messy every day. I do style a good amount of photos and filter them because I like a pretty feed. Because that’s what I’ve done since the beginning. Because, sadly, that matters for engagement. And, truthfully, if I let everyone see everything (if any of us did)…it would most certainly not be a good idea–because TMI, because privacy.”
I think about this often. The portraying of perfect. From both ends of the spectrum. The looking in. The looking out.
Here’s the truth. We can’t share everything on social media to give everyone the FULL picture. Some parts of our stories and our lives, are, and should be, sacred–shared with a few.
It reminds me of what my friend Rebekah has been saying lately, “Transparency is sharing where you’ve been. Vulnerability is sharing where you are.” I think we need to remember that we can’t (nor do I believe we should) be vulnerable with everyone and the world wide web. And that is OK.
If you’ve been reading or following my Instagram for some time then you know I call myself a “recovering perfectionist.”
I’ve never wanted “perfect” in a “Stepford Wives” (gosh, that movie royally freaked me out as a kid) kind of way. I’m simply the girl that has unrealistic expectations on herself. I’m the girl that wants to measure up, give my best, be my best. And should I “feel” like I’m falling short or perceive that other’s are not pleased with me (or my effort), then I don’t cope well. I’ve spent most of my life striving to be good “enough” (and alas, nothing is ever good “enough–so I’m working on this too).
My recovery work has been to accept myself as I am, to enjoy being me (not the me I’m working towards, but the me I am today–unwashed hair and yoga pants me), to obey God, and then to not concern myself with others may think of me (to get comfortable with the uncomfortable “feeling” of other’s not being happy with me at all times). It’s a lot of feels!
This post is not to defend the truth that my life is far from perfect, nor to make my Insta friend, who DM’d, me feel bad. She just said, and shed light on, what many of us think (or shall I say, deceive ourselves with), and for that I’m thankful…because it allowed me to start a conversation (on a topic that I’m passionate about) and to gently remind us all, including myself, that no one’s life is perfect, not even close. Friends . . .
If we are choosing to look at polished pictures of other people’s lives, each and every day, then we must intentionally remember that squares, simply, do not portray the full picture.
For instance . . .
This photo, above?
Cute outfit! Cool background! Big smile!
I posed for it (wanting to share the pink beret that I’m la la loving). I asked my husband to snap a pic. And, wouldn’t you know, as soon as the photo was snapped we got into a fight (because real life!) and I left his office crying, which then led to me wasting the rest of my day because I felt bad and couldn’t find the energy to move on.
This is real life.
I am imperfect.
My house is imperfect.
My kids are imperfect.
My husband is imperfect.
My relationships are imperfect.
My work is imperfect.
And . . . I’m learning to embrace it all.
In fact, to no longer wish for the perfect relationship, home, body, or family but rather to give thanks for what I have.
I have short, not-skinny, legs that I’ve done battle with my whole life. But, now, I’m grateful for them because they are strong and get me around.
My family is still trying to recover and find a new normal after my parent’s divorce. Everything shifted and is still settling. I’m grateful that I still have a mom and a dad and that they both love me.
I can’t seem to get my kids to keep their rooms clean or keep the toothpaste off the counter (not even for a single day). They burp at the table and talk over each other, even though I’m always pushing manners. I’m grateful that we eat at the table as a family, every night that we are home. I’m grateful that their teachers and other parents report that they are polite and respectful. I’m grateful for their beautiful, unique, personalities My husband doesn’t dote on me on Instagram (he doesn’t even do Instagram- actually I kind of love that). I’m grateful that he works his butt off to provide for our family and that he loves his children, not just in word, but with action and with his time.
It’s all so imperfect. And yet, it’s all so good.
We are living. We are in motion. We are growing. We are on the way to where we are going. We are becoming the person God is refining us to be. There is nothing clean or still or perfect about that. And I love it.
The next time you (or I) look at a photo and pause a little longer than we should, let’s stop and remember that no-one and no-thing is perfect. And, we don’t want perfect anyways; it’s not real!
Today, what is good and real in your life? What are you grateful for that is imperfect but good?