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.