Some things make me feel more like myself.
But some make me feel washed out and generic and uninteresting.
And I have to be honest, most of these feelings come about when I'm using social media.
I feel a little less like me when I spend time posting things I hope other people will find interesting. I feel less like me when I choose scrolling through my news feed instead of feeling the texture of a papery page as I read a good book. I feel less like myself when I am manipulating a situation so I can take a good photo instead of being present with my daughter as she toddles about, exploring our back yard with fresh eyes. I feel less like myself when I am only half paying attention to what my husband is sharing with me because I'm anxious about how I don't blog enough.
I do all these things in the hopes that I will feel validated by being me. But in the process, I have abandoned me for a glossed-up shell version because I'm not spending any time on the things I care about. I'm spending my time portraying a life instead of living in one.
In this tricky culture we are in right now, it's easy to forget that we have value as we feel the desire to conform to what we see around us. On Instagram. On Facebook. On blogs. When compared to people we know.
It's easy to think that there isn't a place for who we are if we don't get enough likes or comments or followers.
We try to be honest with the way we put ourselves out there, but sometimes we fear that the real us just isn't enough. And so we worry and we post more and we post prettier and we hope it will be enough.
Is it ever enough?
It's a classic struggle, isn't it? This wanting so badly to be accepted. It reminds me of elementary school days and girls who thought I was too quiet and too bad at kickball. But now it's been made so much more desperate because of this ability to magnify ourselves so everyone can see us...or a certain version of us anyway. Maybe it makes us feel like we have a little more control?
It's a dangerous pit to fall in when we feel we have to alter ourselves to be accepted and to feel significant. When we put the things aside that make up us so that we can be well-received.
When we choose to be very present on social media at the cost of not being very present at all in our own lives.
There is this book my daughter has that tells her,
"For never before in story or rhyme ...has the world ever known a you, my friend, and it never will, not ever again."
And it's true of us, as well. It would be a shame to rob the world of getting to know the real us.
I'd like to bring myself back to what matters to me. I'd like to share my life online, but I don't want this sharing to become my life, my idol, the thing on which I place my whole state of wellbeing. I think it's possible to stay authentic while documenting your life, but it's something I'm still learning how to do with balance.
And so I write a vulnerable post about a very real struggle I'm having, and I remember the things that make me feel more like myself:
Reading the book Blue Like Jazz and listening to the Wailin' Jennys radio station on Pandora.
Being in the countryside, the clatter of the city far behind me, soaking up the soft evening sunlight.
Hugging my baby girl with her head snuggled real close on my chest.
Coloring and creating.
Making loose-leaf tea in a glass container so I can watch the color seep out of the leaves and swirl into the water.
Spending time with good friends where all we're doing is sitting and talking (and maybe chasing our kids around a little bit).
I feel more like myself when I watch The Lord of the Rings, especially the parts with the hobbits and the Shire.
I feel more like me when I'm reading and when I'm writing my thoughts out in a journal, on real paper with a pen, and when I'm laughing until my abs cramp at something goofy and, honestly, I feel more like myself if I end up snorting a little, too.
All of these details help ground me into me.
They aren't crucial details, but they help me remember who I am and how I like to spend my time and what makes me feel refreshed. They help me remember what I value and what I want to teach my daughter and what kind of marriage I want to have and what kind of friend I want to be.
These things that make up who I am are separate from social media. They are separate from other people. They are separate from what I should or shouldn't.
They are just me.
Not sure what significance this has exactly, except that it feels good to know. To remind myself and to write it out. To maybe celebrate about it a little and be glad that there are things that make me, me. That make me different from someone else and give distinctiveness to my personality.
And maybe now I don't feel so washed out. So wispy. I feel like I have a little more substance to me, a little more meat on the bones of my soul. And I think maybe that it is important for our souls to be healthy in this way so that we feel able to share them with someone else in a sincere way. Or maybe so we can do some kind of good someplace. Or maybe just so we can know we have worth.
No matter how many likes or comments we might have.
*Quote taken from On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman.