After a long day of work, I was lounging in my yoga pants and flannel shirt eating chips and scrolling through Instagram. The more I scrolled, the more icky I felt. How does everyone’s lives look so perfect?

How are these travelers always looking so gorgeous? Did they change into that gown once they climbed that volcano? How are they taking such nice care of those dresses on their camping trip? What’s with the straw hat in the fields of flowers- why does every travel writer have one? Should I get one?!

How are those apartment walls so perfectly white? How does the pages of that open novel look so scrumptious among the tangled twinkle lights and cup of perfectly marshmallow-ed cup of hot chocolate? How do they get their sheets so white and fluffy?! WHY DOES IT ALL SO LOOK SO FLIPPIN’ PERFECT.

Why does my life not look this good? Am I not good enough? 

It’s so easy to compare, right? It’s so easy to peer into the personal lives of others these days. But despite my love for all things from the past (hand-written letters, hat boxes, vintage lingerie, 1930s music, record players, long voicemails), I have sincere love for social media. I reach out to social media when I’m seeking inspiration, when I’m brimming with ideas and words to jot down in my blog. I use social media to write to old friends and family members. I spend hours looking back nostalgically at old videos and past Facebook albums. I reminisce. I make new friends online, I form connections in online groups and professional networks. I learn new skills. I figure out what new vegan cafe recently opened through Instagram. I learn editing tips via Youtube. I meditate using social apps! The list goes on.

But here’s the thing, guys: social media isn’t real.

I mean…not really. There comes a point where we have to draw the line.

Social media is a glorified highlight reel

No matter how much truth we write in our captions, no matter how untouched our make up-less faces are, no matter how honest it all looks, social media will never truly be real. Reality is real. In-person connections are real. Hand-written letters are real. Phone calls are real. Hugging someone, that is real. But we can choose to use our creative talents and our voices to share the real. We can share the imperfect mess of it all. Not only will that allow us to be more honest and true to ourselves, but being real, being “authentic” (ugh, I hate that word.) really does draw people in more.

This blog is my space where I do that. My Instagram captions and Youtube vlogs are other places where I do that, too. It connects people.

Scrolling through our feeds, we stumble across beautiful people, perfectly styled homes and outfits, the happiest couples. But to believe that all of those people, those influencers (ick, don’t you just cringe at that word?) are happy and fulfilled is to believe that social media tells the whole story. And it doesn’t.

Social media tells a tiny fraction of the truth. It is part of our story, but it’s not all of it.

We are all on the struggle bus together; everyone has a problem that they are uniquely facing, and we can all relate and be able say “me too” to one issue or another. That’s the great thing about social media: it creates community, it forms connection, and it starts discussions. It is so hard to not compare your life to others when you have an entire life memory bank of thousands of people in your hand. Every birthday, every life milestone, every meal, every job promotion, every relationship update. But there are ways to make social media more honest. We can share the behind-the-scenes moments. We can share our messiness, we can Instagram Story the frozen Trader Joes ravioli we had for dinner, the cheesy tacos that we stuffed our faces with. We can share the honest moments, the simple life struggles. And by sharing the tough stuff, others can relate and feel less alone.

Never feel that you are unworthy or lacking. You are whole – you. You alone are complete and full in all of your entirety as a living human on this planet. You are the energy of stardust. You are everything that makes up this Universe, and we are all one and the same. When your real life doesn’t resemble your perfectly square tiled Instagram feed, I want you to give yourself compassion. I am cheering you on and rooting for you…and your wonderfully unedited and messy life. Because despite what people put on the social media, we can all agree: life is messy and not what it looks like on Instagram.

For When You Compare Yourself to Someone on Social Media…

February 8, 2018

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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical moments through my lens and my pen. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I'm inspired to share the light around me. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

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Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.

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