The Internet is Fake: Why You Need to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
I’ve never believed that the internet actually reflects real life. Though I swear I do my best to be as real and honest as I can here (and encourage my bloggers to do the same!) it’s still carefully chosen phrasing, moments of gloom wrapped up into “lessons learned” posts, and lots and lots of undying enthusiasm. I mean, really, why would I blog about the backache my period brings each month that almost takes me out of commission? Or the fact that I rarely wash my face before I go to bed because I’m basically too lazy? Or that my father once grounded me from life for leaving a spoon with peanut butter in the sink, instead of the dishwasher?
Those details, that much “honesty” has nothing to do with my business and my ability to help you live life on your own terms–so it remains unsaid…
Yet, that is life. My life. Messy, real, and full of daily challenges and moments of grace. Just like yours.
So, what’s my point today? Well, it’s something that’s been on my mind a lot, and something I think I may unwittingly promote, regardless of my true feelings.
Fact: The internet is a land of false extremes. It thrives on boxing you into one side or another- pushing you out of your comfort and into someone’s version of the perfect life. It survives by making you yearn to clearly be on “the right side” of options, in line with your heroes. Bloggers, product peddlers, life coaches, and all versions of inspirational speakers promote living on one side of an extreme, or another…
(Yes, I know it seems like I’m shooting myself in the foot. Keep reading.)
See if this sounds familiar, sunshine…
Are you a domestic goddess, happily settled in into your adorably decorated apartment/house/cottage on the ocean, creating trinkets of love for Etsy, becoming an ace photographer, while also managing a lover, a full-time job, and the ability to appear completely precious in each and every photo ever taken of you? And you definitely love life and probably bake things too!
Well, that’s okay! As long as you are an adventurer. You’re living a location independent life, blitzing on and off of your social media accounts with tales of new sights, new friends, new ways to make tons of money, while appearing never to work, right? Devoting yourself to minimalism, meditation, and inspirational quotes, while secretly obsessing about your online guru status and ways to avoid appearing conventional? No?
Still not familiar?
Try this one on for size. Perhaps you worship at the alter of corporate success… You climb the ladder with perfectly pulled together big girl outfits, glamming for networking photo booths, themed cocktail in hand, don’t you? No one knows much about your “real life” (even you!) as you make poster child appearances for your company and their brand- a virtual social butterfly, slavishly devoted to your paycheck as means to new handbags, fancy vacations, and high end yoga studios. The good life? It’s yours!
Are you reading this going, “Molly? That is so offensive! How dare your pigeon hole people with such stereotypes? And anyways, Molly, you are totally a paragraph 2 pusher, so who are you to talk?”
I know. I know. That’s the point. Who am I to tell you how to live your life? Who is “The Internet” to push an extreme version of someone’s perfection wrapped-with-a-big-bow definition of success? Imagine that life is one of those bar charts you studied in stats class. The online representation of “life” tends towards the outliers, when in actuality, most of life happens within the bell curve. The bell curve? The boring bell curve of reality? Really? Yes. It just does- that’s the whole point of those damn charts!
People get big online when they have a distinct voice, a specific point of view or lifestyle that seems romantic, or exciting, or perfect to the rest of us. And when you hit “online rockstar status” with a certain take on life, you stick to it and promote it as gospel for your readers, clients, followers. Whether your offline life really reflects it or not.
So, I’m here to tell you to stop listening to the Internet to tell you how to live your life. Live your own life! Stop comparing your “boring bell curve” life to seemingly perfect online lives! Create a mish-mash, hodge- podge, perfect reflection of YOU and all your beauty and all your “imperfections.”
‘Cause that’s real life.
Learn how to stand up for what you think is right, to make your unique mark, to have such utter fierce self-love that you can captivate others with your sheer passion. Make your own rules- and if that means playing by the rules- fine! You get to choose.
Don’t forget that life changes. Most of us will flip flop between extremes, or find comfort in the middle, or change our minds multiple times on “what we want to be when we grow up”. Most of us don’t fit neatly into one of the above descriptions of an epic or awesome or extraordinary life…
It’s true that I’m living on the road right now, trying my hand at location independence, waking up to daily adventures. And parts of it are awesome: biking along Lake Champlain for hours this morning, meeting hilarious old men who invite us to come canoeing in Florida over Christmas, meeting so many members of this small Tribe at workshops, getting to really practice living in the moment. But also, parts of it suck: not knowing where my next shower is coming from, continually being a slave to free wifi, not having room or space to just hang out, worrying about what happens when the honeymoon is over…
And though I adore Stratejoy and coaching and writing for now (and YOU! Hello YOU!)– I try to remember that I can do something different tomorrow. I can start painting. I can tackle baking and playing with puppies and actually finishing a 365 challenge. I can get a kick ass corporate gig and learn how to walk in heels again.
I can change my mind. I can follow my whims. I can live a life that is not neatly defined on the Internet.
And so can you.
So tell me, what is your “bell curve” right now? What’s life ACTUALLY like to be you?