The Most Perfect Life, Ever.

Last week, I got an email from a friend.

It was in the context of us emailing back and forth about various insecurities/first world problems. “I totally admire your life,” she said. “…I feel like we all need to see what everyone else sees, because it’s pretty damn cool!”

It was a sweet email, but it also made me cringe a little.

When I first started using social media often a few years ago, I’d often fall into the trap of thinking everyone’s life is The! Best! Ever! My life is not The! Best! Ever! and if I made the mistake of comparing myself and my life to those sunshiney photos of those Perfect Lives, it wouldn’t usually measure up.

As I got older, I learned a few things:

  • My life ain’t bad.
  • A blog is not a full snapshot of anyone’s life, but many people just put their best selves out there.
  • Dude, if you are feeling down on yourself, step away from the Internets for a little while. You will always be able to find someone whose life is seemingly way better than yours.

The day after I got that email, I saw Carla post an article on Facebook about Instagram’s Envy Effect and everyone’s lives looking perfect on social media. I commented on her Facebook, “but, really, who wants to post an ugly Instagram photo?” but I think it applies  generally over social media.

2cb792ec785e11e2a8e322000a9f13d9 7 The Most Perfect Life, Ever.

Just one of those awful Instagram photos

 

I also know that I—and other women—have a tendency to downplay my achievements, especially on my blog. (Well, except for running. Dude, if I get an amazing PR, no, I will not be downplaying that.) Who wants to be seen as bragging?

This is all a long-winded way of saying: I try to be as real as possible on this corner of the Internet, because painting some perfect picture of my life isn’t doing me—or you—any favors. I celebrate the awesome, but I let you know when I’m frustrated with myself, or when I’ve failed. Obviously I don’t share *all* of my struggles on the Internet, because that is what family, friends and a good therapist are for, but I also hope never to portray some super-awesome-amazing-with-no-problems life. Nobody’s life is perfect.

And: beware the Instagram effect.

 

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35 comments on “The Most Perfect Life, Ever.

  1. Jen

    I used to get so depressed looking at everyone’s facebook pictures with all their friends, and i didn’t have any it seemed. Turns out I just needed to bring a camera with me on occasion.
    Jen recently posted..8:10 x 26.2 miles

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  2. Michele @ Nycrunningmama

    This is SO true. I won’t post negative pictures (for the most part) but I do step away from social media when I’m having a bad day or string of days. You can always tell when I’m in one of those stages b/c I don’t tweet and there are literally no pictures on IG.
    Thanks for sharing…sometimes it does feel like everyone has a perfect life =)
    Michele @ Nycrunningmama recently posted..#BostonStrongSI Recap

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    1. Theodora Post author

      Same, usually. Not in a purposeful hiding, but sometimes you need time to work through things. I’ll sometimes post about the negative after the fact but usually after I’ve had a little time to process.

      Reply
  3. Katrina @ 'Sota is Sexy

    I feel women in particular are under such extreme pressure to present a “perfect” version of themselves through various social media channels. Interestingly enough, the posts/photos/tweets where I tend to get the greatest response are the ones where I’m being REAL and often times showing how IMPERFECT my existence actually is. Go figure!
    Katrina @ ‘Sota is Sexy recently posted..Fact: There’s a hole in my pants

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  4. Melissa

    I am not one to leave comments on the blogs that I read but your post really resonated with me. I have actually stopped reading a lot of blogs because other bloggers, in my opinion, only write about there seemingly best selves and all of there amazing accomplishments. But to me, this is not real life. No one is perfect. I keep coming back to your blog because you seem real. I appreciate that you write about your accomplishments as much as your struggles. Thanks for doing what you do!

    Reply
  5. lisa fine

    So true. It’s really good to keep it all in perspective when reading blogs. I used to think some blogger really had it all together, but over time came to realize that they’re just sharing the best parts of their lives. And I’ve stopped reading some blogs that sound too sugarcoated or glossed over – can’t stand that. Bring on the real as much as possible.
    lisa fine recently posted..from vermont vittles to city sprouts.

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  6. Maria @ Pappa Don't Preach

    This is so crazy true! I was exactly like that in the past, thinking, “omg, everyone else had such a great weekend and mine was boring.” I’m so glad I got a hold of those crazy thoughts or I’d be just that – CRAZY.
    However, I do love the gram because it makes my sometimes mediocre food look amazing! haha! It’s all perception!
    Maria @ Pappa Don’t Preach recently posted..Baby Cabbages Go Fishing

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  7. Niki

    What a great post! I think it’s very important to try not to compare ourselves to others, but social media does make it very easy to do so.

    Reply
  8. Meghan

    This is really true. I definitely share the positives and leave out the negatives. The term “Instagram effect” is a good way to put it. I’m not instagramming the less than exciting or mundane…but I also wonder how much of the “truth” or less shiny people want to see. I think we could all benefit from people sharing the negative or not shiny every once in a while, but it gets a bit old if people are complaining or griping more than the opposite.
    Meghan recently posted..Weekly Workouts 4/15-4/21

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    1. Theodora Post author

      @Meghan: I mean – blogs are definitely a form of escapism, to get a glimpse into someone else’s life, so it’s natural that more positive than negative stuff is shared, because, you’re right, who does want to read lots of complaining? But agreed, there could be less shiny edges, and I think there’s constructive ways of doing that, too.

      Reply
  9. Alison @ The Peacock Diaries

    This is so timely! I was having a conversation yesterday with a friend about some blogs we mutually read, and the problem with blogs/social media in their tendency to present partial, only rose-colored-glasses views of life. I commented that of the blogs we read, I have a feeling that you would be the blogger who is most authentic IRL to your blog personality. Every life has highs and lows, and I feel like you have always been very honest in sharing a balanced view of your life (thank you for that!). I definitely enjoy escaping into Pinterest and Instagram for an hour or two and using the inspiration as motivation to set some goals or just daydream, but it can be dangerous to stay in that fantasyland for too long.

    I think your blog definitely conveys the idea that nobody’s life is perfect, but it also reminds me that perfect is boring. A full, well-lived life is a roller coaster ride — and you have to have a few bad moments to really appreciate the good ones!
    Alison @ The Peacock Diaries recently posted..Lovely Life List: Learning to Drive

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  10. Molly

    Love this post! I read all kinds of blogs, so I often feel like my house isn’t pretty enough, that I’m not stylish enough, or that I don’t run fast enough or far enough. So I appreciate you keeping it real. :-)
    Molly recently posted..Veggie Chili Quinoa Bowl

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  11. MegG

    Yep Love this! I strive to be very honest on my blog, but I forget about instagram a lot in terms of not posting “perfect”. I like pretty or funny images, I cringe when people put pictures of their crying kids or gross blisters (seen both in the last few weeks). Sure that may be real but, blargh. I do like to read blogs of real people, and you’ve kept it real for a long time, which is awesome.
    MegG recently posted..In My Twenties Tuesday: I’ve had a friend since Pre-School

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  12. Jane @ Not Plain So Jane

    I think you’re a great example of being real, and people appreciate it! Being honest & open with readers about the good & bad (especially with health-related blogs) sort of starts to break the mold of people thinking there is a perfect way to eat, or lose weight, or exercise. We’re all real people, trying to be healthy in our own way. There is no perfect anyone or anything, ever. I drink way too much diet coke, I really like Cheez-It’s, and I watched House of Cards in ONE weekend. Oh well!
    Jane @ Not Plain So Jane recently posted..WIAW- Beach Style!

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  13. Victoria

    I was actually about to post on something similar soon. Having just gone through my divorce, I kept it off the internet because I don’t share a lot personal items on my personal Facebook or blog etc because it was between myself and my ex. It’s always good to remember that while Instagram can fake a good tan (thank goodness, right??!!), we all have our own struggles behind our smart phones and cameras.

    Reply
  14. Jen

    I definitely try to share both the good and the bad about how my runs and training go because I never want to be a discouraging force in terms of exercise. I’d be so sad if someone read my blog and thought, “well workouts aren’t easy for me and they seem easy for her so I might as well not try.”

    With that said, I certainly don’t post about every bad thing that happens. Part of that is me not wanting to ruminate on it, but part is also just that a lot of times our failures are more private things (say, a fight or a bad work review) that we don’t feel comfortable sharing.

    Anyway, great post, Theodora :)
    Jen recently posted..Class Review: Body Ride with Jason at Revolve

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  15. Shauna

    Great post, as usual!

    I’ve read a lot of people referring to this as pertains to parenting, specifically mommy blogs. I’ve read a few that ( even without having kids myself) I can say with 99% certainty are skewed waaaaaaaay unrealistically toward the positive, beautiful, and CLEAN (coughgetreal). Observing that level of filtered perfection seems to really bother some of my mom friends. Can’t say I blame them but they then rebel by sharing every mundane, gross detail of their lives with kids in a way that makes them sound incredibly negative. It’s interesting. I say, let’s just be ourselves and maybe leave out the extremes?

    Reply
  16. Carissa @Fit2Flex

    I totally think you make a great point. It’s the comparison trap that you can’t stop obsessingly looking at. My husband and I have noticed the “hater” effect on FB. When something genuinely good does happen in your life you can tell a lot about your true friends but who comments and supports you and who ignores you to then post something “amazing” about their life too. I try to be supportive to everyone’s little victory because it means a lot to mean when I’m supported.
    Carissa @Fit2Flex recently posted..Why live a healthy, active lifestyle?

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  17. Anna

    Ack! Was this me? If so, I didn’t mean to make you feel weird in ANY WAY. I do think you’re really good at being honest, but I also think you certainly inspire me—and your other readers and lurkers :) In fact, I think that’s what makes it more inspiring—is that you have this incredible bulldog determination and everything DOESN’T come easily to you.

    Also, in contrast to the Instagram effect is something interesting I learned while talking to a psych for an article … your self-esteem can actually go up if you look at Facebook instead of a mirror. It’s because with Facebook (or a blog) you curate the images and the projection, so the idea is that it CAN be good to sort of admire the way you project yourself, if that makes sense? I thought it was cool, anyway! xo

    Reply
    1. Theodora Post author

      Maybe? :) No, I know you didn’t mean to make me feel weird. I just thought it was really funny and made me stop and take pause to hope I wasn’t trying to project some perfect life. Very interesting about looking at how you project yourself though! That does sort of make sense.

      Reply
  18. Kayla W

    I get this all the time!

    I feel the same way about Facebook, it’s like a highlight reel of everyone’s greatest moments.

    All we can do is celebrate with them, then go actually our rockin lives.

    Reply

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