On Instagram I recently posted this photo of a strawberry smoothie at Goa, a little café by the beach where I live. I wrote: Breakfast on the beach. In february. My life right now…Amazing! My teenage daughter reacted and thought I was very tumblr which I of course had to look up to understand what that means. (in case you are wondering: it means that she thought it was a nice photo) Ever since I posted that picture though I can’t shake a feeling of uneasiness. This is why:
Nowadays everyone seems to understand and accept that the pictures we choose to post in our social media only tell part of a story. I know very few people who share their shadow side. Almost no one writes openly about struggling with life. Instead many people, such as myself recently on Instagram, share pictures of things we label as positive such as holidays, food and alcoholic beverages. When I question this sometimes, people tell me that everyone understands that this is only a part of life and that posting beautiful things and experiences is just part of the social media game.
So to me this means that what we say to each other is this: it’s OK to keep up a facade. And not only in our posts in social media. How about our houses for example? Do you ever tidy your house before guests arrive? Because I used to do that, meticulously. Someone once said to me many years ago: I don’t understand, you have the perfect garden and the perfect house and the perfect husband while my garden is a mess, I don’t have the energy to tidy my house and I don’t know how I feel about my husband anymore. That was my cue to invite this person in and tell the honest truth: to tend my garden and my house was taking energy from me that I didn’t have and I too was unsure about my marriage at the time. But there I was, forcing myself to do a lot of things in order to keep up this seemingly perfect facade. I kept on doing that for a long time afterwards.
Today when you see my garden or my house you should know that I have the privilege of someone else tending them for me. My husband and I are thankfully doing great but that took an almost-divorce and quite some therapy.
Authenticity is a thing. To be truly myself, regardless of who I am surrounded with or what I am doing; that takes some guts. Because being authentic means being vulnerable. Being brave enough to stand up and say how you are feeling for real, however confused that might be for the moment.
It’s impossible to write about authenticity and being vulnerable without mentioning Brené Brown, the researcher who gave one of the most viewed TED Talks in history on this subject. She says that authentic people have the courage to be imperfect and fully embrace vulnerability. They are willing to let go of who they think they should be in order to be who they are. Her talk keeps on inspiring millions of people around the world, even though it’s been years since she delivered it. Why? I think simply because she had the courage to stand up, be vulnerable herself and talk about a truth that resonates deep within people.
I know now that I am not doing anyone a favor by keeping up a facade about anything; my garden, my house or my marriage. Instead you hereby get the real me. Sometimes that involves a strawberry smoothie on the beach and sometimes a blog post about struggling with life. Not perfect and no facade; simply me, living my truth.
If you are interested, you can watch Brené Browns TED Talk: The Power of Vulnerability
You can also read her book on the subject: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead