I want to talk to you today about social media "highlight reels", playgrounds and isolation. It sounds like a crazy combo but allow me to preface it with this:
It’s important to remember that everyone has challenges and struggles and that life is not always how it appears.
When social media feeds showcase everyone’s highlight reels, it’s easy to assume that everyone’s got it better than you. And when you don’t share what’s bringing you down, others can assume you are just fine when in fact, you are not.
When I am faced with challenges, as I have been lately, I tend to go inward. It’s the introvert in me. Recently though, I took it too far and ended up isolating myself and inadvertently pushing away the people who love me most. It wasn’t intentional. Quite honestly, it’s pretty easy to do when juggling work, a side hustle, kids, and other responsibilities. I just found myself there.
Isolation is no joke. Think about it! There is a reason why solitary confinement is considered a form of extreme punishment and drives people to their breaking point.
Now here comes the playground part:
Isolation is the ego’s playground, whereby the ego is the insufferable bully who won’t let you be. It’s a dark, slippery slope where scripts begin to form, and fear sets in your mind. It can even make you forget who you are or how valuable and powerful you are. What the ego won’t tell you is that scripts can always be torn up and rewritten -- anytime you choose. The ego wants you to believe you are powerless when you are anything but.
If isolation is the ego’s playground, then friendship is the soul’s playground. It’s sunny and bright there. It feels safe. It’s reaching out and connecting to others. Unlike isolation, friendship is oneness in its most beautiful form: UNITED -- because life was never intended to be lived alone.
How did I get out of isolation? It took one friend reaching out and just listening. As I poured everything out to her, she repeatedly insisted, “You are so loved. Why are you not reaching out? You are so loved.”
She didn’t try to solve my problem. She didn’t judge it. She echoed those words which drove me to tears. She was right! But I didn’t want to burden anyone. Sharing seemed overwhelming to me because I had let it all build up in my mind.
I had allowed this issue...this obstacle to become bigger than me. And when I would glance at those damned highlight reels on my social media feeds, it just seemed to me that everyone else was on the other playground -- the sunnier one with no bullies. Why would anyone want to listen to my woes? Who could possibly understand when they are whooping it up on their vacations, getting all of their children to smile while looking at the camera? I mean, really, who can do that?!
Soon after that meeting with my friend, our other friends reached out to me. That alone made me feel so supported. Then the Universe got wind of this, and I found myself running into different friends quite randomly: once while out on a run and then again when my friend who lives out of state showed up on my doorstep. Just last week, I was able to catch up with yet another friend whose child happened to be in the same activity as mine.
Sharing struggles with friends may not solve problems, but it makes us feel supported and feel less alone.
When connected with my friends, I feel loved, and when I feel loved, I am pretty fucking invincible. I may not be any further in making my way through a challenge, but I feel so much lighter about it when sharing with my peeps.
The other thing I realized was that the highlight reels were just that. My friends had challenges and struggles of their own. Yes - the very same ones whooping it up with their perfectly smiling families and their amazing vacations. Big, seemingly insurmountable problems - if they were to take them on alone. But we shared, we unloaded, and our combined burdens seemed far less threatening.
No matter what is happening or what our current circumstances are, life does go on. But how it goes on is ultimately up to us.
What has all this taught me? That there is still joy to be had, self-care is our #1 priority and humor, a must. And that baring your soul over a bottle of Veuve with homemade chocolate chip cookies with a friend is not only perfectly acceptable, but strongly recommended.
We cannot let this life break us. We have the privilege of choice. We can choose, from moment to moment, to be happy or grateful or at the very least, appreciate how strong we are. We have the freedom to set boundaries and put our needs first. We can say no and just rest.
We have the power to reach out and pull a friend from the menacing grip of isolation into loving arms.
We are all in this crazy, messy life together and together, we rise, we overcome, and we go on. So please disconnect from those highlight reels and reconnect with your herd. I promise that as soon as you do, you’ll find yourself on that sunnier playground no matter what you are dealing with.
If any of you can you relate, please leave a comment below and share as much detail as possible in your reply. Members of our herd come here each week for insight and inspiration. Your story may help someone else find the courage to reach out.
Thank you so much for reading and sharing. Your support matters more than you know!