Before I begin, I’d like to apologize in advance for the length of this post. I had a hard time putting into words my feelings on this topic without going into some length. I hope you will read till the end as I feel the message is important.
We all love social media and for me Instagram is my favorite. I love looking at pretty pictures and gathering inspiration from others, but is social media causing depression in todays youth?
I read a story the other day that really touched me. Not because I am depressed or have ever battled depression but because I could relate to her story. As a young adult I struggled for a while after having to make what seemed to me like the hardest decision I would ever make in my life. I was an athlete; ballet was my life. I spent my whole life up that point training, stretching, practicing discipline, going to ballet class, watching my weight, going to ballet class, performing, rehearsing, watching what I ate, stretching and training some more. I was a perfectionist even though I was far from perfect, but I wanted to be perfect. I was good in school but ballet was my focus and everything I did revolved around ballet. Every decision I made I thought how would or could this effect my career as a ballet dancer. To give you some perspective, I stopped skiing when I was ten for the fear of injuring myself and not being able to dance again. I quite diving, though I was really good at it, because I didn’t want to loose focus or take time away from time I could be taking a ballet class, or practicing at home. In high school I partied but not that much because I had ballet class and rehearsals during the week and on the weekends and did not want to have an off day for fear I may not get the role I was dreaming of. At 17 I deferred going to college to pursue a career in ballet, a professional career that only lasted a year and a half due to an injury. No matter how much physical therapy or medication I could not mask the pain I felt. So shortly before my 19th birthday I came to the realization this pain wasn’t going to go away no matter how hard I wished for it to go away, how many chiropractors and doctors I saw, how many pills I took, or alternative forms of therapy I tried. This was the decision I struggled with, the decision that it was time to give ballet up and find my next dream to pursue.
I say all this because while this was such a difficult decision for me and the months after I moved home were tough, while I had some doubts and wondered if I should find someone other than my parents to talk to, and after my mom found a couple people I could meet with, in the end I didn’t need to. I also didn’t have someone else’s filtered life to compare mine to. What do I mean by this? I didn’t have curated filtered images of other seemingly perfect peoples lives to remind myself that I wasn’t living the life I had dreamed of. Yes there was MySpace and Facebook but back then, at least for me, it was used only as a way to communicate with friends who were away at different colleges. I shared pictures and posted on my wall but not in the way I use it now. Now Instagram and Facebook are an extension of my blog. I have a dedicated Facebook page for Have Need Want and I share images and articles and products that I feel you all would be interested in. It’s a way to show a glimpse of what I write on my blog. And then there’s Instagram. I post outfit pictures, food, what I’m doing now, home projects, and much more. I curate images and quotes, it’s almost like a mini version of my blog. While I don’t really use any of the Instagram filters, I do take time in taking the pictures that I post either on the go with my iPhone or pictures I take with my Canon Rebel and upload to my phone to share. This is my filtered life. Rarely do I snap a pic of my disorganized house during the week. Yes, my husband and I pick up after ourselves, (we’re not total slobs people) but there definitely are nights where we’re just too tired or busy to tidy up all the way before going to bed. I’ve been known to push aside the clutter just outside of the frame of my lens for a picture then push it back once I’m satisfied with the picture I post on Instagram (isn’t this crazy!).
Are these types of behaviors causing someone else to get down themselves? or aid in their pain? This of course couldn’t be farther from my intention and I could only imagine it’s the same for all of you reading along with me. My life is far from perfect and actually it’s not even all that exciting, at least not all the time, but it’s my life and I enjoy sharing it. When choosing the pictures I post on Instagram, Facebook, or my blog, I aim to inspire and uplift women not cast a shadow or make someone jealous. I scroll through peoples Instagram feeds and sometimes can’t help but wish my life was like some of the accounts I follow. Their lives look so perfect, they travel all the time, their home is always spotless, they always have new clothes…you get the point. It’s hard to imagine though that a feed of carefully curated images, such as those, could be aiding in someone else’s sadness but then I am not in a state of mind or can even comprehend what that might feel like.
Just remember that “even people you think are perfect are going through something difficult.” It just might not be the same as your own.
I get stressed, frustrated, upset, annoyed, and at times jealous but at the end of the day I am a happy person. The purpose of me sharing this story with you all is, if any of you are depressed or are feeling low and thinking life will not get better for you, I’m here to reassure you that it will and it’s “Ok to not be Ok.” The hardest obstacles in life can be overcome even if at the time it doesn’t seem possible. It’s also “Ok to show people you’re not Ok.” It’s ok to share your feelings. The people around you, who love you will appreciate it, trust me!
I know this post is far from what I normally talk about but I felt compelled to write this and I hope you all can take something away from this. Madison’s story touched me and I truly hope that those who need help can feel it’s ok to get help and those who don’t understand can have compassion and empathy.