It’s so easy to start thinking your life is less-than-average while scrolling through social media these days. Someone is always on vacation, buying a new car, attending a special event, or their kid has gotten an award for something great.
While all of these things are really good things, we have to remember that Facebook is what Rachel Cruze calls our “highlight reel.” Social media is where we post happy photos of our life, and that’s a great thing!
But, it’s misleading.
Maybe you have, but I’ve never seen anyone post a photo of an argument with their spouse when they are having a heated disagreement. I’ve never seen anyone post a photo of themselves while they’re yelling at their kids because they’ve “had it” for the last time. I’ve never seen anyone post a photo of them crying in their office because they’re scared they can’t make their next house payment, and they have a vacation planned with their family.
Nor do we want to see those photos.
No. We want to see the happy photos, while everyone is cheering them on.
But, it’s human nature to easily fall into the trap of comparison. As Rachel states in her book Love Your Life Not Theirs, comparison is the thief of joy.
A long time ago, before social media, you actually had to drive over to the Jones’ house to see what they bought – whether it was a new car or a new pool.
Nowadays, we carry the Jones in our back pockets! We instantly see the highlights of everyone’s life. “Keeping up with the Jones” has become easier than ever.
But, comparison truly is a thief of joy.
I’ve caught myself gazing at other people’s family photos or photos of interactions with their kids, thinking, “I bet their kids behave all the time… look how well-behaved they look,” or “How does she have time to do all that? I wish I didn’t have any kids right now. Then, I would have time to do all that, too.”
How detrimental to my own life!
The truth is – no one’s kids behave ALL the time! And, my kids are a blessing to me and God’s gift to me! Why would I ever trade my kids for more time?! What am I thinking?! In reality, I would never do that! So, why think it?
The cold, hard truth is, if we are not truly content with our own lives, and are not doing our best to live in our moments, we will miss out on what’s right in front of us. Therefore, we will never truly be happy with what we’ve got.
Instead of scrolling through everyone else’s happiness while you’re hanging out with your kids or you’re out to dinner, put down the phone and enjoy the moment with your family. Instead of gawking over someone’s extravagant vacation, put down the phone and have a meaningful conversation with your spouse.
It’s amazing what can really happen when we try to live in the moment. Only then, can we be content with our own life and stop comparing ourselves to everyone else’s “highlight reel.”
Whether we think so or not, whenever we are consistently tuned in to everyone else’s life highlighted right in front of our face, we can easily start to feel as though our highlights aren’t as good.
But, they are. They really are. They’re actually better – because they’re mine. No one else can experience my life except for me.
When you compare your life to other people’s highlight reel, you’re comparing yourself to something that isn’t real. I’ve also heard it said, “Being popular on Facebook is like being rich in the game of Monopoly.”
I want you to see that no one’s life is cookie-cutter perfect, no matter how good the photos are. The following photos are actual photos that I’ve posted in the past, but what you’re seeing is only the good that is happening. I’m going to share with you what you’re not seeing, so that you can see what has really taken place behind the scenes.
What my social media photos aren’t telling you…
1. My kids are not well-behaved ALL the time.
What you may see in this photo is a loving, caring mom who takes her kids on a picnic. How nice. “Look how cute and how fun that looks. I want to take my kids on a picnic.” And that’s great. I’m glad I can motivate you to take your kids on a picnic or to the library, and I hope that you do!
What you don’t see is that I am really frustrated in this photo – yes, frustrated and aggravated. We finally get to have our second “library picnic,” and of course no one wants to take a photo for Mom. Our first library picnic was a total disaster (another story), but that’s not why I’m frustrated. This time, I’m fully prepared and everything is going as planned, except for one thing.
About five minutes prior to taking this photo, my boys got punished for a week of no iPad games and TV because they wouldn’t stop fighting with each other in the car – like, ridiculous fighting, bickering, and hatefulness. I won’t have it, so they get punished when they can’t get along. It was going on too long. Now, the only games they’re allowed to play is with each other. This world is full of hate, and my family won’t be a part of it. They will learn one way or the other that they cannot treat each other that way.
Yes, I know it’s normal for siblings to fight, but it’s also very possible to not have fighting siblings all the time. I know it is, because I’ve lived it with my brother.
Many of you moms know how frustrating it is when you have to correct your kids while you are only trying to have a good time with them. I was so angry I could have packed up everything and went home. But, I didn’t. We continued, took a nice photo, had our lunch, and went in to the library. And then, I got over it.
Point is, don’t think that your library picnic experience will be like the facade in my photo. And when it isn’t, don’t be discouraged. Enjoy the moment.
2. My Husband and I do have arguments
We haven’t had a big argument in while actually – you know, the ones when you’re like really, genuinely mad. But in this photo, you would assume that everything is all hunky-dory. I remember this day because I remember being upset that morning.
We were leaving pretty early in the morning, getting ready for the baseball game, and something spiraled into a heated argument. I really don’t remember what started it, probably because it is now meaningless.
The following photo really was a happy moment in my life, so I wanted to share it on Facebook in spite of my horrible morning. Never would I have posted a photo of Ernie and I that morning because we were pretty upset with each other. We were too mad at each other, and I’m not into fake photos!
But, one would probably think happy thoughts about this photo, and they should! It truly is a happy moment. The point is, don’t think your life is any less just because someone else is having a great time, and then quickly forget about how much fun you had last month on your family vacation. I chose to post a photo of my son’s team playing baseball, rather than a photo of our argument that morning.
Our arguments are usually pretty dumb. We likely find out later that it was just a misunderstanding of one another.
It goes something like this: I say something, he gets mad, I don’t know why he’s mad, but he says he’s not mad, then I’m mad, then he gets mad at me for being mad at him…
Really? So dumb.
Then, when I keep him in one spot long enough to talk about it, we realize the whole time it was just a misunderstanding. Don’t compare your relationship to everyone else’s relationship on social media
*Yes, it’s normal to have disagreements and arguments as a couple, but if there’s constant fighting and hollering going on all the time, I do suggest counseling.
3. My house is not always spotless and organized, and I am not the quintessential wife and mom.
Over the years, I’ve learned to let many things take a backseat. I still enjoy having a mostly clean and organized home, but I can’t always get to it like I want to. I’ve had to dish out chores to other members of the “family team” so that I’m not spending every second of the day cleaning; although, I still feel like I do.
I had to let go of the perfectly clean home and let my kids help out, while teaching them to be responsible humans. They may not perfectly fold the towels or sweep up every crumb off the floor, but I use those times to teach them cleanliness and attention to detail. I tell them “good job” for giving their best effort.
I’ve literally heard people say that they wish they could be me because I’m so talented in many areas. I appreciate the gesture, and it gives me a little boost of confidence. But, the reality is, we ALL have special talents and gifts that can be used to bring such a HUGE benefit to someone else’s life. God has created us all with unique capabilities, whether or not we think so.
I yell at my kids when I’m frustrated sometimes, and I HATE that I do that. My heart rate goes up to 110 with a little burst of anger when we can’t find a very important uniform shirt that I KNOW I washed, only to find out later that it is still hanging in the closet. I just didn’t see it the first two times. Now, I have to go apologize to my child for yelling at him for never putting things back where they belong.
I mess up. All the time. And I’m so thankful for God’s grace. Take deep breaths; it’s been a long day and I’m tired. No excuses. Apologize and start over.
4. We do not make a HUGE salary that allows us to do whatever we want.
If you’ve noticed the hashtag #debtfreecar, your first thought might be, “That must be nice. They must make a lot of money.”
What you don’t know is that it took us almost 7 years to be in a place to be able to pay cash for a vehicle for the second time. If you’re interested in getting rid of car notes forever, read about our debt-free journey for some motivation and see how we did it!
It doesn’t have to take 7 years, but it does take sacrifice. We bought this vehicle with 140,000 miles on it, and it’s a 2009 (8 years old). We’ve always paid under $10,000 for our vehicles in the past 7 years, and we sold them for around the same price we paid for them. Then, we added a little hard-earned savings on top of that to buy the next vehicle with cash.
The opposite of this post is true also. In the past, we’ve posted photos of our new car that we bought with debt, and everyone was cheering us on, yet, we were as broke as a joke – and they had no clue.
We could go to the dealership right now and finance a brand new $60,000 vehicle with no problem, and look like some rock stars – we’d get a hundred “likes” for it, too. But that “high” of getting all those likes and the new car smell only lasts for a moment. For the next 5-6 years we’d have to live with a car payment, and we said NO to car payments a long time ago.
I shop at thrift stores, and I’ve learned how to say “No” to a lot of things. I’ve learned that personal finance is about 20% head knowledge, but 80% behavior.
If it’s not in our budget, we don’t buy it. We didn’t always live like this, though. It takes us a while to save up for an inexpensive vacation once per year, or any excessive purchase for that matter. This is because at the same time, we are saving for things we deem much more important, while also being able to give to others and save for our future.
We couldn’t do all of these things without sacrifice. We could not even afford for our son to play travel baseball if I didn’t plan ahead and pack our food for the ballpark parking lot (since you cannot bring ice chests into the park). I spend almost my entire Friday planning our baseball weekend so we don’t break the bank.
So, for someone to think that we have all this money laying around to spend on all these extra things and big purchases like cars – mythical. But, I do understand that it’s human nature to think that way.
We do what we feel is important for our family’s overall well-being, living our own life, and not trying to have something that someone else has. We’ve learned to want what we have, and it’s the best feeling ever.
Content people don’t always have the best of everything, they make the best of everything.
I don’t want to start looking at everyone’s photos differently, I only want to remember that my life does not need to be compared to social media. Social media is only the highlight reel of mine and everyone else’s life, and I need to make sure I’m enjoying my own moments.
I hope these candid moments of my life help us all to realize that photos are there to be liked, loved, and enjoyed…
…but not compared.