Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Life on the Pages of Facebook

We are constantly constrained by appearances. As teens in middle and high school, we experience the angst that comes from wanting to be like everyone else. We see the lives of others as seamlessly perfect while we magnify every little pimple and imaginary flaw of our own. In college we often wonder how we could have received that scholarship or extra credits when everyone around us seems so much more deserving. I don’t know about you, but I have spent a great deal of my life feeling like a big fat fraud – so undeserving of any honor or accolade. The defensive mechanism that evolves, then, becomes about only sharing the good aspects of our lives.  Never let them see you sweat. Never admit to failings. Don’t let anyone know that you struggle to be the wife/mother/housekeeper whose image you have created – more for your own benefit defense than for impressing others. To what end do we do this? Is it really productive? Is it real? Of course not! But why do we persist, then? Is it an attempt to hide the perceived inadequacies of our true selves? Or is it more about how we wish we were – what we strive to accomplish in our lives?

This is the type of thought that comes to mind on a regular basis in my love/hate relationship with Facebook, blogging or any other electronic medium. On the one hand, these means of communing with others are a god-send. How else would we be able to reach such a vast audience to share our convictions about being pro-life or Catholic or aspiring mothers/wives/saints? The merits are real and the medium lends itself to reaching many like-minded women and sharing our struggles in our quest to sainthood. But what of the illusion of perfection that can be seen on walls and pages and posts? Do we do anyone a service by not showing the shadowy underbelly – the sordid side of attempts and failures? Our electronic era is a double-edged sword then – both a help and a hindrance. If we truly look with seeing eyes we will consider the losses as well as the wins…the failures as well as the triumphs.

Sometimes I take a look at what I have chosen to share and realize that I.Wish.I.Had.That.Life! Oh wait! That is my life – it’s just not the complete picture. Along with every pristine photo op there is an unseen struggle. Every time the photos show a perfect, pastoral scene there is blood, sweat and tears involved in getting to just that perfect moment. Numerous attempts are made to get it right and the ‘undo’ button just isn’t functioning in real life. Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for those perfect scenes – as difficult as they are to come by. I’ve earned them with a multitude of failures, redo’s, and backtracks. They are real but they don’t present the entire picture. If I zoom out there will be evidence of failed attempts, wrong turns, and heartbreak. But I need to own it all – the complete photo – not just the edited, sanitized version. Life is messy. Life has ups and downs. Sometimes the best ups come after more than your quota of downs. Own it! Just as Christ died on the cross for our unsavory acts, so too, should we die to self to find the goodly portion of life.

This post is an answer to Jennifer Fulwiler's 7 Posts in 7 Days: An epic blogging challenge - day 3