I posted this photo on social media the other day, in fact I made it into my profile picture. I am not a big “selfie” taker and honestly I generally dislike pictures of myself. I am frequently not photogenic. This is not me trying to put myself down I just have a knack for squinting or being caught making a weird facial expression in photographs.
I posted this photo because I really like it. It makes me feel confident. It makes me feel good about myself. And it showcases my strength and flexibility, which is something I have worked consistently on my entire life and I am proud of that. The act of posting it was all about me, I didn’t post it thinking of others. There was no weird message or hidden code I was trying to convey to people. It was simply a photo I liked of myself. Lots of people made really positive comments on the photograph, which was not what I was fishing for. However, it was certainly nice to receive positive comments (it always is).
A little while after a friend spoke to me about the picture, she was filled with mixed emotions. Nothing she said offended me or upset me, however, it did move me to think more deeply about things and write this post. The gist of the conversation was that she was feeling down about where she was at and even though she was really proud of where I was at (or where she guessed I was at based on this photograph), it had sort of made her feel even more down on herself.
I could actually completely relate. Social media can make you feel bad about yourself if you are in the wrong head space and I have certainly had moments where it has made me feel that way. There are definitely times where I think it is best to stay away from social media and I’d say we all tend to visit social media sites more often than we need.
They say a picture can paint a 1000 words and perhaps that is true. However, those words are subjective and abstract. They are created in the mind of the viewer and no doubts two people could look at the same picture and see completely different words. A picture can also leave out a lot.
I am going to share with you some of the story behind this picture. As I said it has told the story of confidence and strength that I felt in that moment (or maybe more so in the moment I looked at the picture). Here is what it doesn’t show.
The picture does not show:
1. My children running around in the background, including one who was very upset that I was not paying attention to her.
2. The other 100 photos that were taken that were not selected, because I was squinting, looked funny, were at a bad angle or revealed something of myself I didn’t like or find too flattering.
3. The constant effort I make to be physically active, to stretch, to keep up with my kids.
4. The gradual nature of my weight loss after having Summer, I didn’t bounce back in seconds or even weeks. It has taken me over a year to feel nearly back to normal.
5. The wrinkles, grey hairs or stretch marks I have gained over the years.
6. The years of training to hopefully become a Ballerina when I was younger and the disappointment when it all came crashing down due to injury.
7. The mess my house is in or the piles of laundry waiting for me to sort.
8. My car’s petrol tank on extra low and the funny smell it has had for weeks.
9. The challenges I have in some relationships.
10. My normal lack of confidence in my appearance which I have been working on.
I really like the picture but to be honest it doesn’t show a lot more than a fraction of a second of my life. It has been filtered to make it more flattering and less real. I am not trying to put down the picture at all, I really like. It is a fraction of a second of my life that I am proud of I guess you could say. But it was most definitely never intended to make anyone question their own achievements. It was not posted as a reference point or comparison point. I know I cannot control how others perceive me through my posts and that is okay. And I like to be “real” , but I can tell you for real I am not going to start posting the other hideous 100 photos for every good one taken.
My point is next time you feel down from social media step away, take a break and remind yourself a picture may tell a 1000 words but it doesn’t tell all the words. It is not showing life fluid, in motion. It is a brief, sometimes edited, sometimes filtered, snap shot. Our minds are powerful so next time you feel bad remind yourself that the picture is not the whole story and you have an awesome, worthy story to tell as well.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! (Anything fun planned?)