There are many articles on how to talk with our kids about managing reality vs what is online. Yet, as I scroll Instagram and Facebook I wonder why there aren’t these types of articles for adults. The only images I see in my feed are happy families and friends proudly displaying new homes, cars, and trophies from sporting events. Where is the struggle? Why are we so afraid of seeing the reality of adulthood?
I am an average middle age working mom and wife who lives in suburban America. The people I surround myself with are down to earth friends who share the realities of the ups and downs of everyday life. We share our struggles with one another without fear of judgement. This does not exist online. Every single picture, headline and post is judged by friends, family, coworkers and strangers. Sometimes they post their mean and cruel judgments and other times they keep it to themselves. Therefore it is easier to only post the good moments. If we don’t post the struggle, no one can judge us.
Today I want to share the dirty little secrets that no one shares online. What type of problems can a bunch of middle aged suburban women have? Addiction, bankruptcy, death, abuse, divorce, job loss, illness, infidelity, depression, and anxiety. This is not an exhaustive and all inclusive list, it is just the tip of the iceberg. If you add kids into the mix, you can add: IEP, failing out of school, drug use, and underage drinking among the list. I don’t see any of these topics in the highlight reels of social media. Yet, I know the depths of their grip on each life. How can we begin to relate to one another when we only ever see the highlights of each others lives online?
How do we stay grounded in reality when we think everyone around us is only have success and not any sort of struggle? Have a core group of people you can confide in regularly. This is the gift that keeps giving. The women who will listen long after the perfect picture was posted. The ladies who will listen and hold you up for support. I am grateful for my squad of women who I know I can talk to without judgement. You need a group of a dozen people. One to three friends that you can lean on to stay grounded in reality. Together you can have your own highlight reel of reality checks.
Stop the judgement. I know you do it. I do it too. You see the picture of that friend from high school who has the 10,000 square foot mansion with a pool, 3 perfectly gorgeous kids and a killer wardrobe…and the first thought that comes into your mind is judgement.
When you find your mind going to judgement give pause. Remind yourself that you do not know the whole story. What you see is a snapshot of reality. She may suffer from debilitating depression. Maybe her son is using drugs and she doesn’t know how to help him. Maybe she can’t sleep without drinking a bottle of wine each night. You will never know because most people don’t share that part of life online. Stop comparing yourself to that picture of her. You don’t see the 360 degree view of her life.
Everyone has problems and demons, but you won’t see them online. We are all human, therefore we are imperfect even if you don’t see those imperfections. Each one of us experiences suffering and problems that we are tying to manage day in and day out. In a world that is constantly trying to divide us, please remember this: We are all united by the internal battles we face each day. Be kind to the mom who posts pictures all the time about how amazing her life is. Chances are somewhere underneath those photos is a struggle she is trying to hide.