Monday, September 15, 2014

The Way Back

Top: c/o ModDeals (only $10!); Jeans: Gap; Flats: Report; Aviators: H&M (similar)

There's a lot of literature out there about the way social media (Facebook is the most referenced because it's so prevalent) makes people feel badly about themselves. I think that I've written at length on it before as well, but can't find that post to re-share it. I often remind myself not to "compare someone else's highlight reels with my behind the scenes" and living that reminder has been an ongoing struggle for me. Instagram and blogging don't help the obviously-on-display styled-online-life phenomenon. It's hard to feel content with sitting at home on a Saturday night when someone's photographing a gorgeous drink, beautiful friends, and an expensive meal. But, as we all know, they're not instagramming the nights they're staying in, their debt, the messiness of their home, or their moments of sadness and weakness.

I recently read an article that was circling the blogosphere about what's actually happening behind the scenes of our instagram posts (as bloggers and as non-bloggers) - the 30-minute long rearranging of items in the home to curate a nice coffee table shot, the angles at which 100 selfies must be taken to get one decent one, the 10 arrangements of your dinner plate to get the lighting just right. It was funny and accurate and I think it made a lot of people feel better about their own "behind the scenes."

I found it both creepy and funny, then, to be going through my own instagram on the hunt for a photo of my last-year's Christmas wrapping, and finding myself jealous of... myself. I was looking at all of these bottles of awesome wine, of pretty dinners and fresh salads, of the sunsets watched and rivers viewed, of outfits, of adventures, and I was envious. I found myself thinking - we have so much fun and everything's so beautiful in photos - why isn't the immediate moment as beautiful and amazing? There are dirty clothes to be washed and a bathroom to be cleaned and everything feels rushed and busy.

I didn't get far down that thought road before I considered that I was experiencing that social-media issue that we all go through and that my emotions were distorted. I shared the photos with Ben (we scrolled through instagram for a while) and he said he had the same reaction - "wow! Our life looks awesome! That seems so much more fun that what we do every single day." We both laughed.

The photo of me exploring Ben's science building was sandwiched between Ben complaining for 20 minutes about his building, stagnant city air that made it hard to breathe outside, and ridiculously hot weather that made my pants and myself irritable. The photo of me holding a box of apples looked lovely but I was bitten repeatedly by a farm bug and it bothered me for weeks. I also got a squished bug in my shoe that was really gross. And the apples were mushy in a week. A photo of gorgeous bruschetta? Ben didn't want any bruschetta, I did. We argued about tomatoes for a good 10 minutes before I just went ahead and made it anyway.

Those gorgeous moments that we'd been envious of were really just every day moments. In the end, I think that the thing I land upon when reflecting on how perfect someone's life can look like in photos versus how imperfect it is in reality, is that the imperfections are what make it interesting, important and beautiful. We shouldn't be jealous of the coffee table styling, but of the person being so silly and neurotic as to arrange it behind it. I am sure they have a story that accompanies it that's far more awesome than the photo. As for us? The tomato argument spent with Ben ended in laughter and was far more valuable than a photo of bruschetta. The squished bug in my shoe later resulted in a laugh and a shared foot-washing-session. The apples turned into a great apple crisp that I made Ben one arduous study day. The exploration of the science building left me with a better idea of how Ben spends his day and the walk outside lead me to a friend jogging by and we talked for an hour.

If you're going to spend time with some of the gorgeous highlight reels out there, even your own, perhaps it's best to remember that what's behind that image, the real, imperfect life of the individual leading it (and you too!), is probably far more beautiful than the shot itself.


  1. This is so true and such a good reminder! And I'm finding that it doesn't stop with pregnancy and I'm sure it will be the same with kids, so sometimes I just need to unplug from it all and focus on the good things in my life vs. spending so much time looking at other people's lives...But in other news, I love those jeans! I need a pair of black distressed skinnies for fall, and Gap actually makes that exact same style you're wearing in maternity so I think I'm going to order them :)

  2. that top is gorgeous! <3

    xoxo, rae

  3. Such a pretty top, I love the color and print!

  4. Love love love your top! xx


  5. Such a pretty top! xo, Hayley

  6. Good reminders Kelsey! I've found that the best moments in life are not recorded by IG... Real life includes, chores and bills and arguments.. along with joy, bliss and fun... blogging is not the real world.. and that's ok too...

  7. This is a really great post, Kelsey. Thank you for your honesty! I love this simple outfit, too - the top is so fun.

  8. This was a great post. I've read a couple of articles about bloggers and especially Instagrammers setting up the perfect shots and have been amazed. I think your view of the matter is much better.

  9. First, I love your blouse. Second, I agree about insta and FB shaming yourself/others. I have a rule. If I'm specifically taking a photo to upload to Instagram, then I have a two snap limit. Only once or twice have I decided the photos were so awful I couldn't put them up!

    Life of Emily

  10. I love this post! I totally know what you mean about instagram envy and how it's not really justified most of the time if we consider the whole situation...I heard about that big real life vs. Instagram post! It's really interesting how you turned it back on yourself looking at old photos--I think I may have done that before and it's a good reminder about positive thinking! Love your observations!


© kelsey malieMaira Gall