"I think about how valuable it is to live the life in front of you, regardless of how tempting it is to press your face to the glass of other people's lives online, even though doing that is so much safer and so entirely addictive." -Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine
If you've known me any amount of time, you likely know that one of my greatest struggles is comparison. This quote from Shauna Niequist feels like something she is speaking directly to me. I struggle with living the life in front of me because I am so worried about how it holds up to what everyone around me is doing, what their lives look like. Social media eats away at me in that way. Posts about traveling the world, pregnancy, new babies, big houses, new jobs all run together and speak lies to me about how my life isn't valuable.
I have a deep fear that everyone else is moving along at just the right pace and that I am incredibly behind. And what I'm left with is a shell of a person who can't enjoy the present because she's so worried that her life isn't what it should be.
I'm blessed to be married to a man who doesn't really care what others think of him or his life. He lives in a bold way, blazing a path ahead of him and making decisions based on what is important to him, rather than what is important to other people or what others will think of his decisions. I envy him for this, at times. And I admire him even more for it. When I first met him, I remember him telling me that one of his favorite quotes was from Ralph Waldo Emerson. "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." He embodies that saying in his everyday life in so many wonderful ways.
I, on the other hand, have trouble living the life in front of me. I think about our student loan debt and wonder how many decades it will be before we climb out of it and can start doing other things with our money. I look at friends my age with multiple small children and wonder, "When? If? Will we ever be able to afford little children?" I look at our fixer upper of a house compared to the beautiful, Southern Living worthy homes of friends and think, "Should we just burn this whole thing down and sleep in a tent?"
On my worst days, that's where I live. And on my best days, I am joyous and happy for those around me. But man, can social media really bring me to a bad place. A place where I am pressing my face against the glass of other people's beautiful lives, wishing mine were half as Instagram-worthy. I miss my own beautiful life right in front of me-- my snuggly dog, my small but lovely home, my handsome husband. I'm a tangible, hands-on kind of girl-- I love the smells and feels and sights of all the beauty around me. Yet I fear that I'm totally missing all of that tangible goodness in my own life because I'm so focused on the 2D filtered images of someone else's.
So I battle this lack of contentment with my own life day in and day out and wonder about the solution. It's simple, really. Besides praying for God to change my heart and my attitude, I have to let go of things not meant for me. I don't think social media is healthy for me. Instagram doesn't wreak havoc on my inner peace as much as Facebook, but I still feel the pull of wanting what others have in that space some days. I deleted the Facebook app from my phone forever ago when I noticed what an ugly person Facebook made me. Yet, I found a way around that-- using Safari to log into Facebook. I deleted Instagram from my phone during a past season of Lent and fasted from that for a good 40 days. I've started making myself log out of Facebook on my computer because I so mindlessly type "F" into the web address box and click on the first link that pops up-- Facebook-- multiple times an HOUR just to see what else other people are doing.
I need a social media fast, but I'm terrified of missing out on important news or events in someone's life. How will I know when it's someone's birthday? How will I know that my coworker is pregnant? How will I know that someone got engaged? How will I find out about overtime needs at work without the Facebook forum? The truth is, the people who really matter in my life will tell me those things face to face. Or via a phone call, since I live so far from many of my village people. The people who do life with me day in and day out will reach me through means other than social media. Social media makes me a really shallow, insecure person. I need to find contentment and joy in who I am and the life I'm living again. I need to find peace in Christ and who He made me to be-- living the life He called me to. And I need to stop pressing my face against the glass of other people's lives through social media.
So I'm setting off on an adventure of living without social media for a while. And I need you to hold me accountable. Because I am prone to wander and prone to fall back into my old ways. And I'm prone to get caught right back up in the ugly, self-focused, jealous person I become when I spend too much time on social media. I need help living the life in front of me.
How do you keep yourself free from the temptation of comparison in your life? What boundaries do you have to set so that you can live the life in front of you? How do you accomplish a healthy relationship with social media?
Would love to hear your thoughts on this. I'll do my best to keep posting in this space through the next schoolyear but won't be as great about posting new blog posts on Facebook. Feel free to follow along on here with how things are going. And thanks for understanding this act of self-care as I chase after the beautiful life right in front of me.
Lots of love,