It’s so hard not to play the comparison game, especially with social media. I like to call Facebook – Fakebook. When you look through the beautiful pages all you see is perfection, perfect families and relationships. It’s no surprise that there are studies that now show that social media is causing increases in depression among some people.
Once I said to a friend, you photograph so beautifully. I mean I’ve never seen you take a bad picture. To which she replied, I’d never put it up if it wasn’t a good photo. Oh, wow I hadn’t thought of it that way. I had photos up that were less than perfect because I was keeping it real, capturing my journey. If someone tagged me and I cringed, I left it as I felt it was a testament to our friendship and that moment. I felt better hearing this though as I was beginning to hate photographs. Everyone takes a bad photograph but most were photoshopping their lives.
Another friend is struggling in her personal life. Her marriage is in a rough patch and her relationship with her daughter is non existent. She barely sees her. Yet, in looking at her posts one sees a seemingly perfect marriage and close mother daughter relationship. If you didn’t know the reality you’d think it was amazing. Reality, it’s smoke and mirrors. It’s rare photos of a smiling couple and shared photos of a grandchild sent to the mother who rarely sees her. One doesn’t seem to notice the mother and daughter are never photographed together. My friend is seeking to create on Facebook the life she’d much rather be living. And, who could blame her for that. Fantasy is far easier to live than the reality of a life in shambles.
I have another dear friend who is single. She tells me Facebook and Instagram can be overwhelming because it’s often a constant streamed reminder of all she has yet to find. Often she takes a time out from it.
For me, when I’m injured and not able to run, I find myself feeling left behind. I feel pressure to get back out there before I lose it all. I also admit to feeling some jealousy that others seem invincible and never get injured. It’s not like I’m wishing harm to them as I’m surely not. Rather, I’m self loathing the fact that my body failed me.
Currently I’m starting my third week of a healthy eating group. We participate in discussions on a private Facebook page. We share recipes and laughs. But there is also sharing of successes and sometimes I read others comparing their experiences to these results. For example, so far in two weeks I’ve lost five pounds. Honestly, I haven’t taken measurements so I’ve no idea of loss there. Others have posted losses of up to 14 pounds and many inches. Some in the group have followed the recipes to a t and lost nothing. Once again social media, meant to be supportive, is causing these people massive amounts of stress. There’s posts about leaving, giving up and just pure sadness.
All this stands as a reminder that reclaiming one’s health is a personal journey. If we are sharing our story, as I am, we must be honest and truthful. Life is not always a bed of roses and by not being open and honest, we miss the opportunity to connect and inspire many. It’s easy to inspire when we are winning, but it’s equally important to inspire when failing. Remember, it’s what we do when we fail that can serve as a true testament to the struggle. Others who are struggling will thank God that they are not the only ones. And, let’s never forget the struggle is real.
This week, I followed my menu and cooked clean and healthy. Friday night after work I met friends for dinner. I planned to make good choices on food and not to drink. Well, I didn’t order any fries or pasta or potatoes with my meal. I ordered a panini and planned to take half home for my hubby. I didn’t eat bread on the table as I was having a panini. I decided to have just one drink and stayed away from wine. I ordered vodka and tonic. Hmmm. Reality, I ate the whole panini and boy was it good. I ordered a second drink too. Oh well. Saturday, I went to visit my son and his girlfriend. My husband picked up a few bagels. First thought, not having one of those. Second thought, maybe just half. Reality, that was one good bagel.
I’m not beating myself up for my weekend. Life is made to be lived. There will be good choices and life choices. Life is far to short to pass up panini and bagels and enjoyment of food. This is MY journey and there will be bumps along the way. You don’t gain ten pounds back in a weekend. It’s just water weight. Eat clean the majority of the time and you’ll be fine.
It is my hope that we all remember that life on Facebook and other social media outlets is not always what it seems. Everyone is facing their own struggles. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll be fine. Slow and steady wins the race. Compare yourself only to yourself and you’ll find strength there. This journey is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself.