There are so many things about social media that I really love. I love that it lets me stay connected to people who I otherwise wouldn’t get to see often. I love that it lets me stay up-to-date on the lives of my friends and watch their families grow. I love the ability to get advice from so many friends on things I’m unsure about. I love the sharing of ideas and resources that it allows.

And then, there are the things I don’t like…mainly, the competition and feelings of inadequacy it can create. We see snapshots of lives that are just tiny peeks into what’s really going on. For example…I might post this:

"Lesson plans and cocoa on a crisp fall evening..."

“Lesson plans and cocoa on a crisp fall evening…”

…which leaves out reality. It shows just what I intend to show, and certainly not the whole truth, which looks a lot more like this:

"Papers I haven't looked at in two days, dirty lunch box to be cleaned and repacked, stuff everywhere, oh, and lesson plans. And it's 10:15 pm."

“Papers I haven’t looked at in two days, dirty lunch box to be cleaned and repacked, stuff everywhere, oh, and lesson plans. And it’s 10:15 pm. And this is just the dining room, folks.”

Now as a thinking person, I know this is true. I get that Facebook doesn’t show what everyone’s actual life is like, and neither does Instagram. However, day after day after day of seeing everyone else’s “perfection” can wear away at one’s gratitude. I catch myself noticing my ugly, outdated countertops. My juice-stained car interior. My non-designer Old Navy jeans. My done-at-home nails, already chipping. My weed-filled garden that I’d fully intended to prune and mulch in May. If only I had more time/money/style/motivation/etc. my life would somehow be better!

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon this article by Glennon Melton of Momastery.com (one of my favorite mom bloggers) entitled “Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt”, and it changed my thinking on this. Glennon discusses how some well-meaning fans of hers noticed, though a Facebook photo, that her kitchen could use a facelift, and sent her design ideas and tips. This is her response. I truly hope you’ll all go read it in its entirety because it is really worth it, but I’ll share an excerpt here just in case…

But as I lay down to sleep, I remembered this passage from Thoreau’s Walden: “I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes and not a new wearer of the clothes.” Walden reminds me that when I feel lacking- I don’t need new things, I need new eyes with which to see the things I already have. So when I woke up this morning, I walked into my kitchen wearing fresh perspectacles. Here’s what I saw.

You guys. I have a REFRIGERATOR.

This thing MAGICALLY MAKES FOOD COLD. I’m pretty sure in the olden days, frontierswomen had to drink warm Diet Coke. Sweet Jesus. Thank you, precious kitchen.

Inside my refrigerator is FOOD. Healthy food that so many parents would give anything to be able to feed their children. Almost 16,000 mama’s babies die every day from malnutrition. Not mine. When this food runs out, I’ll just jump in my car to get more. It’s ludicrous, really. It’s like my family hits the lottery every freaking morning.

(Now go read the whole thing, because it’s that good. I’ll wait.)

I don’t want to give up on social media, because there are so many good things about it. But what I am giving up on is feeling inadequate. I love Glennon’s idea of wearing “perspectacles, seeing things in a larger picture than my own, tiny bubble. Today, my perspectacles have included the following…

*Sick Kid: I have access to high quality health care for my kiddos less than 15 minutes from my house. And if needed, life-saving antibiotics for a sick child are just a phone call away.

*Old, unexciting car I have a reliable car that allows me to go to work, get food for my family, bring my children to and from school, and go wherever I please, whenever I please. If it’s hot, that car has air conditioning, and if it’s cold, it has heat. What some people wouldn’t do for this in their house, let alone car!

*Paking yet another lunch Every night, I am able to fill my son’s lunchbox with healthy foods for the next day, which he will eat in his free public school where he is cared for by a whole slew of highly qualified, caring adults.

*Pile of clothes to fold I have a pile (mountain, really) of clean, warm clothing for all four members of my family, just waiting to be folded and put away (keep waiting, clothes. Keep waiting). If their clothes get dirty, we can just put them in our washing machine, come back when they’re clean, and toss them in the dryer.

So when you’re looking at your own life, resist the urge to compare it to what you see out there on social media. Life is not a competition, and no one is showing you the whole picture. If you’re feeling down on what your real-live world looks like, simply try on some perspectacles!

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