by Meghan Bliss | Featured Contributor
How many times have you started your day by opening Instagram?
I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit this, but far too many of my mornings have started with my hands full: coffee in one, my phone in the other. When I was in college — only ten years ago, but before smartphones took over the world — I used to start the day by making a pot of coffee, grabbing a book or devotional, and sitting on the back porch as birds and a cool breeze welcomed me to the day. I’d stay there for an hour or more sometimes, depending on my class schedule for the day, just reading and taking notes and getting my mind ready to tackle whatever obligations I faced with as much peace as possible.
And generally, that’s how I started each day. With peace.
Now? I start my day stressed. Frustrated. Feeling inadequate and inept because I’m not making enough money, keeping my house clean enough, decorating adequately enough, exercising frequently enough, wearing cute enough clothes, or planning enough low carb, gluten-free, high-protein meals for my family to live their best lives.
Let alone curling my long, thick, luxurious, totally-unaffected-by-postpartum-hormones hair so I can look just like my favorite celebrity. Because everyone has time for that with a 4-month-old in the house. (Can I get an #amen?)
Why? Because I’ve let Instagram take me where I swore I’d never go: to a dark, depressing place called comparison.
I know better. So why do I still let myself fall into the trap of thinking everyone else is better at life than I am? Because Instagram — and social media in general — is an adept liar.
Here are five lies Instagram tells us about the lives of other women:
Other women always keep clean, pretty homes. This one is my favorite, and I think it’s because I wake up most mornings to piles of undone laundry (even though I just did some yesterday) and dirty dishes in the sink. It’s so easy to look at a beautifully-curated image of someone else’s home and assume it’s always that beautiful and clean. But unless it’s your full-time job, maintaining a perfect home is impossible. Especially if you have kids. Or pets. Or basically, anyone else living in the house other than you. As much as I’d like to have a perfect home, I’d much rather have a joyful, messy family to share it with.
Other women always eat well. Mercy, y’all. Have you seen some of these lunches? Nicoise salads topped with haricots verts, olives, and fresh grilled salmon in a lemon vinaigrette glaze. Strawberry beet smoothies with flax oil and chia seeds. Chorizo burgers topped with grilled shrimp and avocado. Want to know what I had for lunch? A granola bar and three slices of American cheese. Some days you indulge. And some days you do what you have to do to keep yourself alive.
Other women are in better shape. This one is just plain true. But you know what? Doesn’t matter. Life happens in seasons. If you’re currently in a season of busyness, poor health, or dissatisfaction with yourself, recognize it and figure out how to shift your priorities into the right order, whatever they may be. The lie here comes in when I tell myself that all other women will always be in better shape than I am. Even if that’s true, as long as I am healthy and taking good care of myself, then I’m okay with it.
Other women make more than enough money. It’s so easy to look at someone else’s life and assume she has more than enough money to happily thrive. Especially when you see someone’s tropical vacation photos instead of the peanut butter sandwiches she packed for the next month. You know what? Some other women do make more than enough money. Let them. That has no bearing on your ability to spend, save, and invest well so you can pay off your debt or save for your own tropical vacation.
Other women are happy all the time. It’s really easy to think other women are happy all the time when you see the joy-filled moments instead of the dark, stressful ones. After all, it’s not as much fun to confess that you’re struggling as it is to seem like you have it all together. Here’s the truth: Nobody has it all together. Not the woman with the perfect home. Not the woman with the perfect job or the perfect body. Not the woman who makes six figures a year or the woman who has three million followers. Not even the woman with the happy, healthy family.
Every woman has her strengths, weaknesses, joys, and stresses. Draw whatever conclusion you’d like from photos you see on Instagram, but try to remember that no matter how perfect someone’s life looks on the outside, we’re all human, and we’re all struggling beautifully together.
There’s no filter needed for that.
Meghan Bliss is the owner and head writer at TheLadyinRead.com, a blog for women who read, write, and want to be read.
After almost four years in finance, Meghan quit her job to write full time. She spends her days blogging, writing novels, and trying to stay off of Pinterest. She also copyedits books, newsletters, manuals, and basically anything else you throw at her — including subtitles and restaurant menus. Her first novel will be released this year.
When she’s not writing or editing, you can find her reading, clumsily practicing the ukulele, or watching old sitcoms and superhero movies with her husband, cat, and baby-to-be.
And, as always, trying to find the perfect shade of red lipstick.