Now let me make this clear, I am just as much a culprit in this kind of mess as anyone else. I mean seriously, my marriage fell apart on the grand stage of social media. How could it get any worse than that right? By God's grace, our marriage came back together stronger, happier, more genuine and far more real away from that very same stage. What I can say now after seeing and feeling the consequences of such drama is I've learned there's more integrity and dignity in stepping back, and thinking before we project a version of ourselves or our thoughts we don't even recognize. Being so caught up in the hurt, the anger and needing to feel right only leads to more hurt and anger and cutting off our noses despite our faces. The reality is, when we talk about the real you, the real me standing up, "We can either be shiny and admired or we can be real and loved." (Glennon Doyle Melton) I'd rather be real and loved especially in a world dominated by the fake, flashy and shallow and I think when most of us stop and ask ourselves the same, we agree. It's no secret, and there's no shame in the truth. For two years my husband and I struggled with our marriage. It wasn't because of a lack of love but honestly a lack of attention paid to our foundation. We were so caught up in a world of posts, pictures, likes and friending we lost sight of what mattered...each other. Johnny was trying to make ends meet, get fit and feel young again. I was neck deep into keeping everyone happy and with my internal tank sitting on empty I was unable to see what was happening right in front of me. So over 16 months ago both my husband and I walked away from social media and tended to our own foundation, rebuilding it, clearing the weeds away and tending to and watering our own grass.
The bigger picture for us, was not shutting down or putting anyone out of our lives. We just understood we needed to concentrate on ourselves, our marriage, our faith, family and the life we wanted together before anything else. There is a time and a place and a season for everything, Sometimes it's simply about waiting and growing, pulling up the weeds and not the roots of budding healthy blooms. And so for us after getting things in order in our own lives and home we've recently re-opened a small, joint Instagram account. And by small I mean family and a very, very few close friends. It's not that we're reclusive, it's simply a matter of accepting what Macey Kurtz says is true, "Some people will never know the real you and that's OK because not everyone deserves to." Johnny and I have just come to a place where our life is not on constant display, not for sale or up for auction to just anyone for the sake of a new follow. We're not caught up in whatever drama is going on, taking the perfect picture to post, staging scenes of our lives for prying eyes or convincing ourselves or anyone else for that matter how happy we are. Instead we are busy living our life and being real on both the good and bad days TOGETHER. Truthfully, that in itself brings a whole new level of happiness. You can say we have learned "making mistakes is better than faking perfection" any day of the week. This is the thing, when the real you stands up, no pretext, just the honest to goodness you, well something amazing happens. You stop worrying about impressing everyone and you actually begin making something beautiful of your life. So yes, this is our story, and our way of adjusting our personal sails through this great big social media storm. This is our choice, and a choice we're content in. I guess for Johnny and I we realized our life together, our family and who we really are as individuals didn't need to be displayed anymore. Why, well because our lives speak for themselves, imperfect and under construction daily. Together as a family, we're implementing some pretty sound advice by a much wiser woman than I, Brene Brown. "Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we are."
In closing and on a personal note my husband will tell you I'm about as stubborn as they come. Asking me who I am is seriously a loaded question. But I can say without a doubt I know who I am inside and out and my roots run deep. Personally, I'm a goofy, silly and at times perplexing combination of nerd, geek, Disney princess and hockey mom. I can be a hot mess, then turn around and pull it all together. I'm a public school teacher, a book worm and a breast cancer survivor. I'm a third generation born American, the only daughter of a Philly girl and a southern gentleman and a soldier. I'm married to the love of my life, an American Indian man and the mama of two uniquely different and handsome boys. I have an Irish temper and a southern grace about me. I am God made, Jesus saved and Texas raised. No one can tell me who I should be anymore nor should they. I guess that's the problem I see with social media. It has begun to define us in such a way that we sometimes forget who we really are, getting caught up in the staging of our lives. And that is exactly why it's so important to set those boundaries up, to know who you are, not what other people think you are. A great quote by Leila Sales explains it best for me, "Sometimes people think they know you. They know a few facts about you, and they piece you together in a way that makes sense to them. And if you don't know yourself very well you might even believe they are right. But the truth is, that isn't you. That isn't you at all." And this is the truth behind why don't we Facebook anymore. For us, it's simple...we are interacting, communicating and connecting with one another more often, giving all of ourselves to each another every day. That said, it's not out of pride, or because we're better than anyone else, that our way is gospel or it's the right thing for everyone. We have just found for ourselves, keeping the majority of our lives private is what makes us happy. After all the struggle, the hurt and drama Johnny and I agree, personal relationships be it friends or lovers, are at their best when cultivated away from the stage of social media. See we've personally found friendships, those that are real make us better people and hopefully with the same mind set. "We like people who understand. The type who aren't quick to judge. You can vent to them, and labeling you will be the last thing on their mind. They don't believe rumors because they know there are two sides to every story. They give you a chance before they judge you. They get to know who you really are, then have an opinion." When was the last time you read a social media post and thought this way? And that is why we left it all behind. We no longer take offence to the drama or the harsh words streaming out of spite or resentment anymore. The reason is simple too... we don't give it a window into our lives. The truth is anyone looking to poke the bear or outdo you simply isn't sure of who they really are yet. Give them time. Don't react, just breathe and wish them well. Amazingly, the Word of God is actually pretty clear on this, even in our modern times. 1 Samuel 1:7b says this, "The Lord doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." I guess the real questions we need to be asking ourselves is this, "What does your heart say about the real you? And what is it God sees when He looks into your heart?"
So this is what Life Lesson #135 ~ The Real You is really all about. Just maybe it's time to see ourselves and others as God does...with our hearts and with fresh eyes. The reality is sometimes it's not about standing up for the version of ourselves we think we are or showing off our faces to each other the way social media portrays us. Maybe, just maybe it's about stepping back, sitting down and being the authentic, genuine, real version of you. The you ,you know you were created to be.
"Be real. Be yourself. Be unique. Be true. Be honest. Be humble. Be happy." ~Anonymous