Views from the Inside Out

Photo by Maurício Mascaro from Pexels

“Create a life that feels good on the inside, not just one that looks good on the outside” ~ Author Unknown

Author unknown, but the author was likely wise and ahead of the rest of the world. Especially if this phrase landed before social media took hold. Because now, it epitomizes what social media can cause.

Social media: (collective noun; a world where smoke and mirrors or ‘filters’ can leave outsiders with the impression that everyone else has the perfect life). The photos people post are the highlight reels of life. They take fabulous vacations, their children excel in school and they dine in wonderful restaurants. Those filters they apply even make it look like they have perfect skin while leading perfect lives.

Dr. Phil said it this way in his podcast Phil In the Blanksit’s like “comparing your own personal truth to the social mask of others”.

I paraphrased, but sadly, it’s true! We buy into the illusion of the social mask. It is too easy to believe someone else’s life looks better than ours when we see staged photo opportunities. Which truly represent seconds out of their lifetimes. Their marriage could be in shambles, a child could be self-harming, perhaps substance abuse plagues them or a loved one. But those posed moments show the world the best they have while hiding the daily struggles. Everyone, dear friends, has struggles. In case you didn’t catch that… EVERYONE struggles. With something.

On several occasions, I make myself take a break from social media when I get a terrible case of ‘comparison syndrome’. I was traveling often for work, which most people would think is super cool. Admittedly, I would post some pictures of interesting things in my travel and I’d love to say that it was completely innocent – but no, I too, wanted a little of the thrill of having someone think my life was cool.

What viewers couldn’t see was for that great scenery or fun things I posted, I had sacrificed PTO days and my own money to stay a day outside of the work obligation. On the inside, I wasn’t even enjoying me-time for the dread (or rehashing) of the work time. I had to behave just so, dress just so, say all the right things and generally stay ON from sunup to well after sundown. Always walking on dynamite-laced eggshells to avoid outrage from my very toxic manager.

I would post a thing or two, and then force myself to not look for reactions for fear of seeing my friends doing more fun things, with loved ones. There were many times, all I wanted was to meet a friend for happy hour in a local place, not dine alone at the restaurant bar and hope some kind stranger would have a reasonably normal conversation with me.

“Create a life that feels good on the inside, not just one that looks good on the outside” ~ The quote resonates with me on so many levels and lately, it’s from having bought a house in late May, there’s a big part of me that wants everything to be painted, unpacked and perfectly decorated and arranged before having anyone over. The reality is, it’s still quite a mess. I have a dog, a long commute and am riding the struggle bus every day with accomplishing anything outside of work and walking him. The poser in me, wants to look like I’m nailing this new lifestyle, but the recovering poser, is planning to have 10 friends over this weekend with at least forty percent of the house still in total shambles.

Because, here’s my new found wisdom, folks: the people who are truly your loved ones are unwaveringly understanding that your house isn’t in order. Some of them will visit totally prepared to help. Those are the friends that just want to enjoy some good life with you, not caring at all how it ‘looks’.

It’s a constant battle to not be the person who posts only the best moments of life. Try to savor them silently. The war rages in me to contain my slight jealousy as I scroll through the perfect moments of others, comparing how I feel my life feels compared to how their life looks online.

I find a moment of peace in those mental wars though, when I see raw and real posts. A girl from my high school recently posted some vacation pictures, and the caption read ‘the smiles are fake, cause we’re all old, fat, tired and grumpy’. I adore the authenticity of that.

Because remember…everyone struggles. It’s human nature to want to present the best version of yourself and your life, and that’s all well and good. Though I wish we lived in a time when everyone simply lived their very best life ~ no matter how it looks on the outside.

Flaunt it if you must, but I beg of the world…. focus on feeling as good in the life as you portray it to be in the highlight reel.

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