Any good health/wellness/life coach, therapist or spiritual teacher will tell you that the key to finding (and keeping) the most satisfying, joyful and fulfilling relationships, partnerships or friendships in our lifetimes lies in two simple words; Be Yourself.
I love these photos from my trip to Napa last weekend for one main reason: I had no idea they were being taken, thus, they are just me...as me. They are me in my favorite hippie skirt from a small shop in Sonoma getting my feet dirty on a damp path; they are me laughing so hard I can barely catch my breath. They are very candid and very real.
Question: How often do we approve of, let alone genuinely like, candid photos of ourselves? For me, it's a rare occurrence. "Let me see that picture...ugh! Delete it. I hate it."
Next question: Why, exactly, do we "hate it"? Is it really because we look that bad, or is there some other driving force behind our desire to delete? Why do we care so much? Why...why oh why...are we so critical of ourselves in a silly photograph?
There is a phenomenon of life-envy occurring right now that stems from, mostly, the prevalence of sharing on social media platforms. Like, post, tag, comment, check-in. Status, status, status. I know I'm equally as guilty of it as the next person. In fact right after this blog is published, it will be posted to my Facebook page. I'm certainly grateful for this platform allowing me to share my site with friends.
But I'm beginning to get more real about the downside to all this sharing and the degree to which "Be Yourself" becomes "Be Your Best Looking and Most Witty, Exciting Self In Case People Are Looking At Your Page". I'm beginning to get more real about the pressure it's putting on us to be ourselves only to the degree in which we feel it will be accepted by others. Including "others" we don't even know very well or ever interact with!
Dr. Leslise Carr does a nice job of describing this phenomenon in her piece "Other People's Lives Aren't What You Think". To summarize, many of us are falling into a bad habit of measuring our lives, our core happiness, against what we perceive to be the happiness of other people's lives. We become masochistic creatures who are hooked on assuming we are missing out or must not be in the right space in our lives based on a quick scroll through our mini-feeds. We pine for what they have in a grass-is-greener way; their travels, their cute kids, their relationships, their clothes, their houses, their jobs, etc etc. We pine for the lives we see through the peep hole that is the internet.
But the truth is, we're not getting (nor can we really ever get) the full picture.
I've had a number of folks reach out to me via this blog (I LOVE hearing from you!), mentioning in one way or another how "jealous" or "envious" they are of my life. While this is greatly flattering and certainly encouraging to continue my adventures, my response to this is two fold:
1. Keep in mind that while I try and be as truthful as possible when it comes to blogging, of *course* there are parts of my life that will always remain more private. Of course I have struggles. Of course my path was, is, will be far from smoothly paved. Because I seek to use this platform as a venue for positive energy, it may come across as if I float on by la-dee-da-life-is-easy-breezy. Sorry to pull back the curtain--but this is simply not the case. I do indeed have a beautiful life; I have more to be grateful for than I could ever fully acknowledge. But it is also far from perfect. I am far from perfect.
2. Everything you see on this blog is a result of something I have worked for, strived for, fought for. It is a result of great effort in my relationships; a result of the love and time and care I have put into them. It is a result of some epic (legendary, monumental, ginormous) mistake making followed by some humble by-the-seat-of-my-pants-tail-between-my-legs-pull-up-by-your-bootstraps regrouping. And it is greatly a result of facing fears, doubts and insecurities...acknowledging them, pushing through them and realizing my desire for adventure runs far more deeply within my soul than the risk of a couple of hiccups along the way. I don't miss out on much these days. To be blunt--I'm learning to not sit around pining for another persons life as I see it on Facebook. I go out and make my own taggable, postable, Tweetable one.
I gotta tell ya--it's a heck of a lot more fun.
By all means, share your life on social media. In no way do I wish to discourage folks from posting photos or swapping inside jokes or spreading notable news through these outlets. I love how it connects me with friends, family, colleagues whom I may not normally stay in touch with. With the right connections there can be a lot of positive juju floating around on the world wide web!
But please, I beg you, try and remember that the surest way to attract your best life is not by wishing you had someone else's as you perceive it.
Remember that in-person human connections are immeasurably more real and valuable than digital ones.
Remember that hardly anyone's life is exactly as it seems from the outside--people are far more complicated than what a superficial view can show us. (Sidenote: that fact is not a bad reason to be a little nicer to folks in general).
Your best life will grow around you...your best friends, partners, jobs, adventures...will grow around you when you start being, accepting...and yep, even "liking"... just you.
Just you. As you.
Give it a shot, OK?