Beyond Facebook: Why it’s important to share our struggles, not just status updates
I’ve had a head cold for this week, and while I haven’t been bed ridden, my energy’s been low. So last night, at 7 o’clock, after rustling together dinner for the family I was on the fence about whether to head out for a dinner with some girlfriends. Part of me just wanted to put on my pj’s and curl up in bed to watch the latest episode of Orphan Black. But I fought the urge, threw on a fresh shirt, a fresh coat of lippy and headed on out.
And I’m so glad I did.
In fact, the unedited conversation that ensued is the inspiration behind this blog post because it was such a potent reminder of how important it is to invest in creating real relationships with the kind of real people who can help us keep the ‘small stuff’ into perspective, rise above the bigger stuff, and retain our sense of humour as we go.
As five of us women sat around a table in a nearby restaurant, we all had our turn at sharing the trials and tribulations of our lives. Sure, we see each others Facebook status updates, but our conversation went beyond that…. to those things we wouldn’t post to Facebook, to the personal challenges that we guard more closely, and the things that chip away at the image like others to have of us… that we like to have of ourselves!
When we share from a place of authenticity, of vulnerability, of truthfulness, we open ourselves up to connect more deeply with those around us. It’s okay not to share all our lives on Facebook, but we can’t expect to create deep relationships if we aren’t willing to share the things we wouldn’t post online.
We talked about keeping romance alive in our marriages. Infusing fun into the busy-ness of our daily lives. Dealing with an egotistical boss, a judgmental mother-in-law, a daughter with special needs and a neighbour whose all too good at asking favours but rarely up for returning them. We talked about how we feel about ageing, how hard it can be to make time for ourselves without the guilt that too often accompanies a choice to prioritise our own needs above those of our children, partner, clients or workload.
Of course we didn’t leave with all the answers to all our problems. But we all left feeling strengthened in our friendship; knowing that we’re not alone in our challenges and frustrations, that none of us have it ‘all together’ (however it may appear on the outside) and that we can lean on each other more often than we’ve felt we could.
As I wrote in Find Your Courage, when we reveal our vulnerabilities, and bare our hearts to other people, we aren’t left weaker, we are left stronger. Many people I know, myself included, sometimes feel pressure to keep up the appearance that we’ve got our ‘shit together.’ The truth is that none of us have got it all together all the time. When we share from a place of authenticity, of vulnerability, of truthfulness, we open ourselves up to connect more deeply with those around us. In turn we give others permission to lay down their own masks, to share more openly and reveal more of what’s going on in their own world. The result: we are all better off.
Of course I don’t know what’s going on in your world. Perhaps you’re feeling on top of the world at the moment. Perhaps your upbeat Facebook status updates truly do reflect the raw reality of your life. If so, fantastic. But if not, then I can only encourage you to be more courageous in connecting with those around you, dropping your guard, letting go the need to show you’ve got it all together, and sharing how you really are (i.e., the stuff you might never post on Facebook). While our fears drive us to avoid situations that put us at risk of rejection or ridicule or criticism, only when we have the courage to do just that can we forge the rich, and incredibly rewarding relationships that help to buoy us over life’s bigger waves, and retain our sense of humour as we go.