I’m not as open about my experiences on my personal social media accounts, the ones with my name tied to them, because I am sensitive to sharing all of myself even with many of the people who know me best. The real, unfiltered me. Because maybe people I respect will find it unpalatable. The way I find myself unpalatable.
So when I share photos of my trips or experiences, I do it because (the lazy part of me uses it as a safe way to back up my photos–which actually worked the time I dropped my phone in the sink and didn’t have them backed up anywhere but Facebook) I am eager to represent my life. It isn’t to brag or to make others feel badly about their lives–I know how looking through windows feels and it is disparaging. I don’t aim to act as if my life is perfect. It really, really isn’t–and not because I have nothing to be grateful for but because I am just that imperfect in the way I run my life (I’m sure somebody else could do a much better job with it).
But I worry that because I’m not real about the bad and the mediocre, people having a shitty time might do what I do, see the best moments I share and compare. Because I have the audacity to share the good moments (to me it often feels like audacity), it feels like I have the responsibility of sharing the bad because filtered social media stories can create such a toxic, fake utopia that really screws people up.
This photo doesn’t have a filter in it and it’s gorgeous. It’s a sunset in a gorgeous part of the world I never thought I would be lucky enough to see. It was an incredible experience and I will always have that, especially when I feel like I am going nowhere in life because this is proof I have gone somewhere, somewhere incredible. But when I share it on my normal accounts, it’s still filtered because it doesn’t show the shitty parts, the unavoidable parts that make me appreciate it all the more but also don’t sell a fantasy, travel life story that makes other people wonder what they’re doing wrong.
It doesn’t show that I moved across the country for a job and it imploded in a way that will probably scar me professionally for the rest of my life, undercut my confidence, and back-up that impostor syndrome. It doesn’t show that two months prior I walked into my apartment and found my amazing, once-in-a-lifetime, sweetheart of a dog dead and, not having a car and being thousands of miles away from almost all of my friends and family, I had to sit there and hold her, arms sticking out because rigor mortis stops for nobody, trying to figure out how I was going to get her body to the vet and whether it was okay to call an Uber while I was sobbing more desperately and fearfully and with more despair than I ever have in my life. It doesn’t show me walking into an office of women who shunned me so forcefully it felt like walking into a slaughter house every day. It doesn’t show me putting my head on my desk with the door shut and trying to fight the urge to leave the office, trying to root an unwilling body to a chair, something that felt as if I was betraying myself on a certain level, being just another set of hands binding me to fear. It doesn’t show me getting a call that a man I have known my entire life shot himself in the head. And it definitely doesn’t show me sitting there wondering if I deserve any joy in life or whether I deserve to breathe when sometimes I’d really like to just stop.
It doesn’t show a lot of things. And this is by no means a pity me moment. Everybody has their shit. But I’m saying I wish I had the courage to represent all of my life because I think it is important for other people to see that the lives they may compare their own to have plenty of shit in them and they’re doing just fine.