I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I use social media.
In part it’s because I’m making an effort to keep up with family and friends while I’m living overseas, so I’m posting to my Facebook & Instagram feeds more than normal. I’ve also been doing a lot of research for a work-related project regarding how social media is changing the way we relate to ourselves and to others.
In doing so, I’ve become keenly aware of one thing:
Facebook is simply a highlight reel.
It isn’t reflective of our day-in, day-out, not-so-exciting and definitely not post-worthy lives.
We save the best for our social media feeds: We post gorgeous sunsets. Amazing vacations. Smiling faces. Our highlight reel.
We rarely post about the hard stuff.
The crappy days. The fight we just had with our spouse. The feeling that we’re not enough. That others’ lives seem to be so much better than ours. That we’re sad. Or unhappy. That we feel completely alone. Or downright depressed. These are the things we don’t share.
But maybe we should.
As I’ve thought about this, I’ve come to realize that my own social media feeds are often hand-picked to showcase the best experiences of my week.
They’re full of amazing images of what has so far has been a month-and-a-half of great adventures living life overseas. They are all true. But they don’t show everything.
That same month-and-a-half has also included some hard stuff. Stuff that I haven’t posted about. These are the things you won’t find on my Facebook feed. They are the ordinary, often frustrating, or maybe just downright comical events (at least after-the-fact, once I’ve gained a bit of distance and perspective) that real life is made of.
If I were to share some of these experiences that didn’t quite make it to my social media feeds, I’d have to include the following:
- I was incredibly sick my first week here and was up all night before we moved into our new apartment. It took everything in me to keep my “cookies” in during the taxi ride to our apartment, I barely made it to the 4th floor, and my poor husband was tasked with carrying all of our bags and finding food for a sick person in an unfamiliar grocery store where labels are not in English. The beginning of our “overseas adventure” wasn’t so great for me.
- During our first several weeks (including the time in which I was sick), temperatures soared to around 98 degrees here – with no air conditioning. For someone from Michigan, this is not what I would call a fun time.
- Our trip began with a layover for few days in Istanbul before arriving in Prishtina. It sounds great—and it was. But I also didn’t plan on landing a contract just before I left for a writing project due the day after I arrived in Kosovo. With my business, I can work anywhere with WiFi and a laptop, but the ideal beginning to my trip certainly didn’t include spending my airplane ride and each morning of my stay in Istanbul in front of a computer, writing furiously, as my husband visited the Hagia Sophia.
- I spent a lot of the first month in our new home feeling exhausted and easily overwhelmed, likely because my surroundings were new, and even finding my way around the neighborhood took extra effort.
- I can’t find a freakin’ can opener—ANYWHERE. After what has become hours of searching, I’ve resorted to opening cans with a combo of a “church key” and a knife. I’m sure there’s one somewhere. I just haven’t found it yet.
- I have several food allergies, so the fact that I can’t read the labels on most of the food items here complicates things a bit. Picture me, a grocery basket in one hand and iPhone in the other, using a translation app to look up every single ingredient. Now think about how long you spend grocery shopping, and multiply that by 2 or 3 to allow yourself time to translate. Every. Single. Ingredient. You get the picture.
- Moving to a new culture can be stressful in ways you never imagine. Everything and everyone around you is new. Things move at a different pace. And it’s all happening in a language you don’t understand. This gives new meaning to “getting out of your comfort zone.”
- Everything takes longer. There’s no Meijer or Wal-Mart just up the street, and we don’t have a car, so we spend an inordinate amount of time hitching rides, getting taxis and visiting multiple stores before finding all we need. Time management just isn’t a realistic phrase in my new world.
- Next time you visit your hairdresser, imagine that he/she doesn’t speak English. Now explain exactly how you’d like your hair cut (hoping you’ve correctly answered the questions you didn’t understand and won’t emerge bald or with jet black hair in the end).
- Most TV channels are (obviously) not in English, so there’s no TODAY show to watch every morning with my cup of coffee. I know this might sound small, but I miss Matt Lauer. Seriously.
If you were to simply look at my social media feeds today, you’d see hand-picked highlights—but rarely any mention of the hard stuff I just mentioned.
My guess is that your pages look the same. That’s what I’ve been thinking about lately.
It’s way too easy to edit our lives.
And maybe a bit more honesty would do all of us some good.