In a time where we are preoccupied with maintaining appearances both online and in-person, we go through our days managing the impressions we make on other people. We wear clothes we think strangers will approve of, we post pictures we think will accrue the most “likes,” all the while running from the feeling that we’re doing it all wrong. At the end of the day, we pour over the profiles of beautiful people with impressive resumes, comparing our messy life and stained pajamas with that carefully curated picture.
We know it’s not real: that the beautiful smiles of airbrushed influencers or the perfect home of that mommy-blogger are not real life. We know that everyone posts their shiny moments, the ones where they look brave, the ones where the dirt is swept beneath the rug, and demons safely locked away. We know that we are comparing our worst moments to other’s highlight reels, and yet, we still set down our phones with the heavy feeling that we are inferior, that we are not enough.
The problem is, I don’t have a $1,000 camera to take professional pictures with. I don’t spend an absurd amount of time at the gym or the mall. My wardrobe is filled with bargain-finds, my apartment is usually messy, I enjoy a good Netflix-binge, and I actually like fast food (THE HORROR).
Despite it all, I feel pulled to post pictures that tell a different story: a story of a person who has it all together, who is successful at everything she does, who drinks Kale smoothies and goes for hikes in her free time. I have enjoyed success in my work and I do drink Kale smoothies, but these facts are not my redeeming qualities; I don’t need to parade them like trophies, proof that I deserve to be here.
The version of me who watches TV while eating Chinese take-out is just as worthy as the version of me who I feel pulled to advertise online, because these are both me. I don’t have to be perfect to be valuable, and I don’t have to look like someone else to be beautiful. Neither do you.
My every moment may not be “instagram worthy,” but I have a big heart and I care about people. I have worn leggings most days this week, but I also did something kind for a friend. At the end of my life, whenever that may be, I think these will be the things that mattered, the reasons I know I did not waste this precious gift.
I wasn’t put here to stress about whether my life lives up to the highlights I see on social media. This world needs me just as I am, so that is who I plan to be.