The eye of the beholder
For a while now I’ve been mulling over this in my head. Months, really. Thinking about who we are truly and who we present ourselves to be.
I spent a good hour texting back and forth with my friend Jen the other day about how I’m nervous for Monday. Monday is the day I drop all the items donated to the families. I know everyone’s probably sick of hearing about it, but stick with me a little bit longer.
I’m nervous. I’m nervous about dropping all those items off. Will it be what I thought it would be? Will they be appreciative? Did I purchase the correct items. Colors, styles, brands? Anyone who sits there and thinks, “They’re poor, won’t they just be grateful for what they get?” shame on you. I set out with the mindset that these people aren’t charity cases. They aren’t deadbeats. They’re good, kindhearted people who just need a little help. Proud women, supporting families, or even just themselves – which let’s face it, is sometimes very hard to do.
I told Jen that I do this because it feels like the right thing to do, and that I want others to become inspired. I want others to want to do this, too. I said this to my friend. Not an acquaintance. Someone who can read past the BS. I meant what I said, and she knew it. But sometimes I wonder, do people believe me? Or does it seem too good to be true?
Then I asked her if my intentions seem pure.
See, in today’s world of social media, we can pick and choose what we post, so we can always look good, or funny, or really well put together. The majority of my friends on Facebook either went to high school with me or have worked with me at some point in life and so they know who I am. Sure, people change with time, but do we really change so drastically?
I don’t know what people thought of me in high school. Truth is, I probably don’t want to know. I won most talkative for the senior superlatives hands down. So, in my mind, I’m pretty sure I was annoying.
What one thinks of themselves is usually way different than what others see. When I think of myself, I think laid back but reactive, smart but not bookish, opinionated and mouthy, kind, genuine, honest, stubborn, pretty but not jaw dropping, in shape but not bikini model worthy, strong, determined, moody, impatient and bubbly.
But is that real?
I don’t lie on Facebook. But at the same time, I don’t post every time one of my kids flip out on me. Just yesterday, for example, was probably one of the worst days in a long time. I built Luca’s loft bed, and it was going great, but I was in a mood. So every single little thing the kids did that I didn’t like annoyed me. And I told them as much. Sure, in the end the loft bed got built, but in that time, we had tantrums, dance class, more tantrums leading to pee accidents, bath time, lunch time, nap time, hammer time (seriously!) and OH MY GOSH THERE ISN’T ENOUGH WINE IN THE WORLD time.
When it was all done, and I was done busting out my 10th grade geometry-repressed memories (seriously, Pythagorean Theorem? Stop.) I posted a photo of it online and felt proud. Defeated, but proud.
Did I post that photo to say, ‘HEY GUYS! LOOK AT ME! I BUILT THIS LOFT BED FROM SCRATCH AND IT IS AMAZING!”? No. Not at all. I posted it as sort of a victory lap for myself. Because, let’s get real here, building things regardless of how big or small is a big deal. I don’t want to be a giant braggart, but am I allowed to be proud? And when someone sees the photo, do they immediately roll their eyes? There’s being proud and then there’s being proud. That feeling you get, when 10 years ago, you’d grab the phone and call your mom to tell her. Now, I can tell Facebook, and subsequently, my mom.
Personally, I love it when people post photos of themselves or their kids or what have you. There’s something about being allowed to view someone else’s life for just a brief second that’s really fun and comforting.
Anyhow, I’ve been having a lot of self-doubt as of late. I’ve been feeling rather defeated and that’s not like me. Where do we stand in the world of social media? Everything is so PC anymore, that if you post a selfie, you’re bragging. If you write a status saying you just had a life milestone, you’re too boastful. You post a photo of your kid, you’re phishing.
I don’t know about you, but I live in the confines of my home the majority of my life. It’s not glamorous, but it’s my life and it’s what I’ve chosen for myself. I know I could go out and get a job. I know that I could easily put my kids in daycare. I choose not to. So sometimes I get a little lonely, and by golly, if I post a funny photo of Audrey on Facebook, wouldn’t you know it, people are interacting with me. Quickly, and very impersonally, but interacting.
Then suddenly, the walls don’t seem so close. My friend in Louisiana said she can’t believe how big Audrey’s getting, and for a split second, it felt like she was sitting next to me on the couch.
So this self-doubt that I’ve been feeling has gotten to be a giant elephant in the room. To the point where I’m getting almost paranoid. I started doing something I’ve avoided the majority of my life – I’ve started to wonder what others think of me. Sure, I wonder from time to time, but not to the point where I figure everyone’s judging me.
When I was at Trader Joe’s a few Mondays ago, I was talking with the food sample guy, as I always do. He commented on how I looked tired and I told him about the spinathon. He told me what an awesome idea that was and then told me how he’s wanted to raise money for a direct family for a long time, just never knew how to go about it. We stood there talking for nearly 20 minutes about it, and the logistics (surprisingly the kids were being good) and near the end of our conversation, he said, “Wow, you must have a fantastic rapport with those people, for them to willingly give up money to you without a direct charity.”
Then it hit me.
Those people who choose to judge me because I post a zillion photos of my kids every week and typically have positive things to say can bite me. I don’t care about you.
Because in the real world. The non social media world, people trust me. I’ve become a person who is trustworthy. I walked out of the gym that day with over two thousand dollars in my pocket and no one worried where that money was going. Not a single one. All those items in my house right now, all four thousand dollars worth of items, will all find their new homes Monday.
I didn’t do this for a pat on the back or for any sort of recognition. I did this because that’s what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to want to make the world better. You’re supposed to want to help out your neighbor.
I don’t find myself to be better than anyone else because I do this. If someone thinks that I in fact do, then fine. Think that. I’m just a normal person with big dreams and I like to act on them. I have the complete and full knowledge that this is the only life we get to live, so we probably should make the most of it. That’s all there is to it. One life.
I plan on living it.