In a world of instant gratification and validation, standing out is harder to do.

Social media gives us glimpses of the lives of our peers but only in perfection.  The perfect outfit, family, job…life.  We compare ourselves to the all surrounding prestige that we see in the filtered pictures– which poses a problem especially to the younger minded souls trying to find their place in the world. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard for my adult self and I’ve slowly started to feel the freedom from not caring how people see me. However, the validation by my “liked” perfect picture still makes me feel pretty gratified.

I have a few worries about social media but one big one is the perfection of it all. What happens when everything that surrounds us is perfect, just not us?  We start getting harder on ourselves, requiring more of ourselves. Doubting ourselves more and standing out less.  When we’re harder on ourselves, we tend to be harder on other people, tolerating less imperfections and fewer mistakes.  Our friends become statuses, our life becomes a competition.  Our connections become more superficial and more conditional.  We become someone with 2k followers but still spend Friday night alone.

The truth is not on social media, although that’s where we look for it. The connections are in those imperfections and mistakes, that’s where people feel like they belong. The struggles that we have in common or the laughter that comes from the fact that I fell off the treadmill while running today.  Yep. That happened. And I was not wearing matching workout clothes. I also drank coffee out of my boring coffee cup that only had the letter “M” on it. (I am not saying that I don’t post filtered pictures and coffee cups, I can be just as guilty), but it’s important to post the real stuff too.

Those moments that you don’t see on social media are what makes us human beings.

Social media holds the standards of our perceptions and expectations.  We thrive on the validation we get from appearing perfect or doing that good thing, all why judging the ones who fail in real life.  But in reality the best things that you’re going to become will likely drag you through invalidation. Sometimes, for a while. And when things get hard, a lot of those friendships will tell you to try something else. Go back to what’s easy.  No failing allowed, look at Susie and her perfect job that flew her to Jamaica. What we don’t see is how hard Susie worked to get there. But unless their life is on a path that you admire, you have to stick to your own validation and not your friend’s. They don’t have your vision.

We’re going to raise generations that don’t know how to stand out. The only way to be a part of something bigger than yourself, to achieve your big dreams will likely start with standing alone. Our goals and dreams don’t stand a chance if we are used to instant gratifications and validations, because that’s not how they will be achieved.

It’s our perceptions that need to change, not our reality. I want to see more of what’s real in people, and although our youth doesn’t realize it, they do too.

I’ve lived my whole life people-pleasing myself into a shell. Now that I’m older I’ve found freedom in getting to be me and I feel at home in people who fall. Literally and metaphorically.

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