I recently read a devastating story about a beautiful 19-year-old girl who lept to her death from the 9th-floor of a parking garage.
But the most shocking part of the story is this: no one saw it coming.
Looking at her social media that day, no one would have guessed that this 19-year-old UPenn Track Star was dealing with her own demons. Her “perfect-posted” life would have never tipped you off. Even just one hour before she killed herself, she posted a beautiful picture on Instagram, of twinkling lights in the city, with backdrop of a beautiful sunset coming from behind.
What no one knew then, is that the sun was about to set on her own young life.
This horrific story really hit home, because it reminded me of the secret battles everyone is facing – whether or not we see it.
I especially remember a time in my life when I felt similar things. I was about 2-months post-partum, having recently delivered my 2nd child. I remember that time so well because I was going through the thick of postpartum depression. My days were filled with tears, anxiety, and feelings of being overwhelmed with life and all that it entailed.
But looking at my social media profiles during that time, you wouldn’t have a clue. In fact, I remember a series of photos I posted of my daughter and I making silly faces in the camera. To the rest of the word (and even to her precious little awareness) life was great. But as for me, my world felt like it was crumbling inside.
I remember scrolling through social media that same evening with tears streaming down my face, feeling a wave of depression come over me. Why was everyone happy, but me? What was wrong with me?
My sweet husband, whose pep-talks I could never live without, gently held me and reminded me of the photos I had posted that week. I don’t remember his exact words, but he said something like this that has since then stuck with me:
“Everyone is going through something…but no one posts pictures of their tears.” (Tweet It!)
We live in a world in which everyone is out to present their “picture perfect” self through the lens of social media. Take a scroll through your Facebook wall and what do you find?
Our Pinterest-perfect lives, our elegant meals, and our happiest moments. We are out to show the world the best in us, even when it’s not always 100% reality.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there is anything wrong in putting our best face forward and capturing our highlight reel through social media. But what I am saying is that comparison is the greatest enemy of joy. But even more devastating than comparing real life to real life, is when we compare our “worst” to their “best”.
Pastor Steven Furtick says it like this “The reason we struggle with insecurity, is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight-reel”.
You see, it’s one thing to talk about our brokenness, but it’s a WHOLE OTHER THING to share our brokenness with the “world” on social media. And maybe, just maybe, that’s not always the best place to do it. I’m all for being “authentic” when it comes to presenting ourselves to the world…but at the same time, there is nothing more powerful nor healing than sharing your deepest burdens with the REAL people in your life. People who deserve to know. People who long to carry that burden with you.
There MUST be a time and place to let down our walls, take off our masks, and show our true self to the world around us.
During that time in my life, I am proud to say that my closest circle of friends knew exactly what my “real life” looked like on the inside. They brought me meals, visited with me for hours, called, texted, watched my kids, and sent me cards to help me get through that really dark time in my life. And I don’t think I could have gotten through it without them.
But looking at my social media page, you would probably never have known about any of it.
You see, everyone is going through something. No matter what they post, no matter how they present themselves, no matter how happy they appear. We all know what real life is like: it’s filled with highs, and it’s also filled with lows. Not one of us humans are exempt from that.
You see, everyone is going through something. And if we forget that truth, we will be filled with envy rather than contentment. We will find ourselves growing bitter rather than becoming better. We will find that we are feeling more alone than we ever thought imaginable. Because the more envious we feel, the more we disconnect from the world around us.
We are made by a relational God, who designed us for relationships, and that’s why we want so badly to connect. So go ahead and connect, first and foremost with the REAL people in your life. Share your heart, share your life, and be as authentic as you can with the people God has surrounded you with. And secondly, go ahead and connect by using social media to share a portion of life with the world if you so feel led.
But as you are scrolling through your NewsFeed, don’t ever allow yourself forget that there is ALWAYS more to the story.
To yours, to mine, and to theirs.
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, national speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life. You may also recognize her voice from her 100+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!
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