Why living in reality doesn’t include Instagram
Recently, I was doing something I usually try to avoid. I went down the rabbit-hole of Instagram. I typically limit my social media time because it is distracting and doesn’t bring out my best self if you know what I mean. So, there I am page-deep on the Instagram of someone I know from a million years ago finding myself dazzled by what looks like a fantastic life.
Seriously, this Instagram had it all—the travel shots, the work-success shots, beautiful people, successful people, nice hotel rooms, sunsets that would make you cry. All the things I used to think made life worth living.
Here’s the reality, though. There was a time I tried to have a life like that and worked hard to get the photos. Here’s the weirdest part: I traveled, stayed in nice hotel rooms, and occasionally even got myself on a red carpet. But, almost without fail, I’d find myself emotionally low and isolated at the end of the day–exactly the way addiction had made me feel before I grew up in recovery. I guess it didn’t feel authentic for me. That’s not to say I’m don’t self-promote. We all have to promote our causes and our work. Promoting just Being There doesn’t reflect emotional reality. Other people may look happy in their Instagram lives, but are they? Being so involved with taking the pictures can isolate you from the experience. That’s what happened to me. I wanted to look great, but that didn’t make me feel great.
Living in reality now means my life can be private and real
After years of working on myself in recovery, I now have the life I always wanted, and it’s genuine. My friends are interesting and empowering and kind. I travel with my partner, but I don’t post many of the pictures anymore. For one, my partner doesn’t use social media so it would be weird to put him on mine. With my friends, we usually don’t feel like taking selfies anymore. Maybe we’re over it. Maybe that’s part of growing up. The point is when I was trying to look like I had the life I wanted, I didn’t really have it, and it felt insincere. Now that I’m closer to the real thing, my instinct is to protect it and enjoy it privately.
Then I got snagged into someone’s perfect seeming life
Even knowing how Instagram can be, I found myself one day going down the rabbit-hole, and I had to pull myself back to living in reality. In that moment of being dazzled by someone’s Instagram life, I had to pause and think it through all the way back to my weekend, where I had plenty of “Instagramable” moments. Many of them I even filmed. But this time they’re not available for public consumption. The photos are for my memory book.
Social media can make you think life is a competition which can only make you unhappy
Don’t get me wrong; I’m a big believer in celebrating accomplishments, on social media, and everywhere else. I also have no ill-will towards that person with a great-looking life. But, for me in recovery, the issue is now living in reality, which means enjoying my own life without feeling I have to share it. Or worrying that someone I used to know has a better life. Growing up for me getting over the idea that life is a competition. Living in reality lets me be me. I don’t have to compete to make my life look good to others.
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