A couple of months ago, my BFF turned my attention to a local Instagrammer with a seemingly perfect life.
She had a beautiful house, a gaggle of adorable children, a witty way about her, and a successful business. She had it all, according to her Instagram feed.
Intrigued by the sound of her success and rags-to-riches story, I dove headfirst into her feed when I got home. And then I cried for forty-five minutes.
Now, quick disclaimer about those tears.
I was in the thick of a huge transition into a new job, totally overwhelmed, worried about never achieving my blogging/book-writing dreams, and sleep-deprived from a recent trip. I don’t blame those tears entirely on the Happy-Girl on Instagram. But, it definitely hit a nerve, you know?
With Thanksgiving around the corner, everyone’s talking about gratitude. But we can’t talk about gratitude without talking about social media.
Not in 2017 we can’t. We millennials don’t have the luxury of skipping out on this discussion. Social media has a huge impact on the way we think about our lives.
(Or maybe that’s just me. But I hope it’s not!)
If there’s any one thing that this blog is about, it’s about how much I believe that every twenty-something out there can love their life right now, exactly the way it is.
Even when we’re at the bottom of the food chain at work, or living with three roommates, or between romances, or buried in a mountain of laundry, or killin’ it at life, or whatever. I believe that we can all love our lives right now, just the way they are.
And, gratitude is the key.
If you haven’t already, you HAVE to read Brene Brown. I’m a huge fan, but this book in particular changed my entire outlook on life and the importance of gratitude. Since the power of gratitude is something a lot of writers, thinkers, and influencers are talking about right now, I doubt this is a new concept for you.
The question is, how can we cultivate a lifestyle of gratitude in a world where we are bombarded by images of other people’s perfect recipes, perfect homes, perfect jobs, perfect relationships, perfect lives?
The answer, obviously, is not to cut out social media entirely. If you did that, I’d be out of a job! And since it is in fact 2017, you probably use social media to keep up with a lot of your relationships. Social media is awesome. It’s a blessing. It’s something to be grateful for!
When it comes to gratitude and social media, here are three things I know:
It’s not easy being grateful when we’re hyper-focused on everyone else’s lives.
It’s not impossible, but it’s tough. The comparison game is so deeply embedded in our hearts and in our way of looking at the world that it takes a conscious effort to shut that out, focus on what we have to be grateful for, and love our lives the way they are right now.
Everyone looks so much cooler on social media.
That includes you and me, girlfriend. I do my best to cultivate a #realtalk vibe both here on the blog and in my social media, but we’re all suckers for a beautiful photo. We have to remember that. There isn’t one single girl out there whose life is as cool, as curated, or as beautiful as it looks on Instagram. Not yours, not mine, not anyone’s.
The secret to loving your life just the way it is, is sorting out the difference between who inspires you and who makes you jealous.
Let me say that again: inspired vs. jealous.
Such a fine line, you know? But girlfriend, it’s the key. Jealousy breeds things like –> insecurity, despondence, shame, sadness, and that ever-familiar feeling that you should just quit now, because there’s no way you will ever have that, be that, live that.
And most of the time there is probably no rhyme or reason to the feeds/blogs that leave you feeling totally inspired and the ones that leave you jealous and insecure.
That Instagrammer I mentioned at the beginning of this post? She’s hugely popular and has inspired many women, and more power to her! But there’s something about her story (and I honestly have no idea what it is) that hits the insecurity button in my heart. It’s not her fault, or even mine. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just reality.
She’s just not a person that I need to be following on social media. So, I hit “unfollow”.
And friends, I was better for it. Maybe down the line her story won’t trigger those same feelings but for now, it just does. And when I’m not knee-deep in a 45 minute cry sesh about her life then I can be grateful for the lovely community I’m building here on PartyofSarah.com, my supportive friends, my awesome day-job, my mister, cinnamon rolls, volcano candles, fuzzy blankets, the first snowfall of the year, the fact that Thimblepress is now making confetti tape, the sound of my niece’s giggles, my book being edited by the smartest editor on planet Earth, peppermint mochas…
I could go on. And I DO go on when I’m not crying about someone else’s life.
This Thanksgiving season, let’s be brave enough to ask ourselves who inspires us and who makes us feel jealous, small, or afraid. It’s not their fault that it does, it’s not even YOUR fault that it does, it’s just reality.
Find those people, and hit unfollow.
Because I do believe that your life is worth loving exactly the way it is. We just need to get out of our own way so we can get busy being grateful.
Gratitude is the key, and that blessed unfollow button is the secret.
Did I mention that I’m grateful for you, too?