A year and a half ago, I was that girl. I was the girl who sat on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (especially Instagram) and stared at my friends’ perfect lives, their clean houses, their doting husbands, their date nights, their adorable kids. You named it, I pined over it. I wanted what they had.
The problem – as we all know – with social media is that it allows us, if we so choose, to paint our lives as perfect or pretty gosh darn close. I can snap a picture of a date night, but what I’m leaving out is the giant sob-fest that happened mere minutes before we left the house. Do I sit in the bathroom crying – over something silly, mind you – and think, gee, I should snap a selfie right now and slap that bad boy up on Instagram! No, I don’t think that. Such a thing would be preposterous. I didn’t snap a date night picture until my make-up was re-done and my eyes were unpuffed and I was ready to cuddle up to my darling husband. But chances are that if you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that picture and thought ‘oh, look, a cute date night with her husband. I want that.’ Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t – but that’s exactly what I would have thought if I’d only seen the picture.
But that’s just it, isn’t it? We only see the picture. Sure, a picture may be worth a thousand words, but it only tells the story of the moment you snapped it, not everything that happened before or after it. I can go through nearly all of my pictures on IG and tell you the tales of what horrid/dramatic/tear-inducing thing that happened before or after the picture went up, but I hold those stories back from IG. Why? Partly it is because, yeah, I want my life to look better than it feels, to give myself some small hope that things aren’t as bad as I make them out to be. But partly it is because not everyone has earned the right to know all of those stories. Those closest to me get the stories, they get to see the tears, they get to see my vulnerabilities.
Regardless of the reasons that virtually no one posts selfies of them sobbing, the truth is that there is life beyond the picket fence. As much as you have stories that go well beyond your filtered, cropped Instagram feed, so does everyone else. Their fresh flowers from the husband are likely only part of the story. Be grateful for the parts you get to see, but remember that real relationships – and real life for that matter – is lived unfiltered, uncropped, messy and beautiful all at the same time.