Longest line in the world at Starbucks. Worst morning ever.
Saw a rainbow in a puddle. #100daysofhappy
Both of these social media updates bother me, but for different reasons.
Either we choose to share only the pretty parts of our lives, and friends and family walk around with a skewed perception of us, or we are accused of being too negative, of complaining too much. There has to be an in between.
I have been suffering from perinatal and postpartum depression and anxiety since shortly after I became pregnant with my son, more than a year and a half ago. I have good days and bad days. I go through periods where things feel close to normal. I can smile and laugh and give my family as much of me as they need. And then I go through periods of real darkness, when I feel the weight of my guilt at being a terrible mother, real or imagined. It becomes so stifling I can barely breathe.
Can someone tell me how to find #100daysofhappy in a row, when I feel like that?
When I was pregnant with my son, I was left to solo parent my two-year-old daughter a fair amount. My husband was filming a television series that required him to fly all over the place, and I often felt ill-equipped to both be pregnant and a parent to a challenging toddler. I cried a lot. I couldn’t handle a lot. I reached out via social media because I felt so alone.
Many of my friends responded supportively, and I was so grateful for it. A few months later, however, it came out during conversation at a party that several of my friends were put off by those posts. They thought I was being overly negative, and it seemed like they were almost embarrassed by these public calls for help.
I was mortified. Was what I had written really that terrible? Was I making a fool of myself by sharing my darker moments? Should I just shut the hell up and only share the positives in my life?
Then I got mad.
I understand that social media shouldn’t be solely about complaining. Just look at that first update I wrote, which likely made you roll your eyes. However, I also believe that it shouldn’t be only for whitewashing your life, so as not to make people feel uncomfortable, or to appear to have it more “together” than you actually do.
I want authenticity. I want to hear about people’s beautiful moments and their shitty moments, because life is made up of both. To only focus on the positive actually diminishes the role that the negative can play in your life.
Case in point: it was my depression that was the catalyst to start me writing again. My intense desire to share an authentic piece of myself, outside of the social media platforms where critical friends didn’t want to hear about the messy moments. That’s what motivated me to start my blog.
Now, I’m getting paid to write all sorts of things.
Without darkness, there can be no light. Thank you, depression.
The more I write in the candid, honest voice that people have come to know me by, the more people seem to respond. What are they saying? “I’m so glad to know I’m not alone,” and “Finally! Someone who’s honest about their life. Thank you for sharing this.”
Maybe, just maybe, I’m on to something.
I want to start a social experiment, of sorts. What if we were to all post #100authenticdays on social media? Not to dwell on the negative. Not to only share the positive. To be ourselves. To share the crap days and the beautiful moments.
To show people that days can be made of being late for every appointment, dealing with an epic screaming toddler meltdown, and then being stopped by some random stranger who wants to tell you that you are the most beautiful pregnant woman. Yin and yang.
So starting August 1, and for the next 100 days, I’m going to be posting on social media honestly. Authentically. I’ll take a photo of some part of my day, and mention a few moments that made it what it was, in the comments. Some days will be great, some days will be hard, most days will be a mixture. Because that’s what life is.
I wonder how our social media dialogue will change, how our lives will change, if we can move toward authenticity.
Do you want to come along to find out?
Let’s be real, for a change.