The unmistakable non-reality of social media and the fine line between over-sharing and vulnerability.

The longest title for a blog post? Hand raised. Garis, party of one. I had a bigger party, but they all left while waiting for me to finish reading the title of this particular post. That's how long it is.

Dax enjoying a hammock

So, we did the family vacation thing this past week. And we survived. We drove two kids across several states to the beach without a DVD player in the car (this was shocking to a mom at a Chickfila in Louisiana). We gobbled up buttery oysters and flaky snapper, brought in from the boat just minutes before we ordered it. We traipsed across the white sand, carrying our babes (tired from walking), to search for shells and small crabs that scuttled away seconds after we spotted them.

Chief waiting for beignets outside Cafe du Monde in NOLA

We watched the moon's reflection over the emerald coastline as we dug our toes into the cool, packed sand. I made sand castles and tunnels that were nowhere to be found the following day... washed out to sea with the tide. My boys chased waves, dumped sand, fed seagulls, peeked in on alligators, and kept their eyes peeled for the occasional dolphin.

All along the way, I photographed. Click. Click. Click. The smiles. The food. The coastline. The sunset.

As the parents of the Penn State runner who tragically jumped to her death in January share her suicide note this week, I couldn't help but think... Am I doing a disservice to others by not also sharing the struggles? There is picture after picture of the young girl- her name is Madison- on social media. Having fun with friends, selfies, smiling, laughing. 

How do we get real? How do I share my feelings on social media? That it can be difficult as a mom of two young children, to be on the beach with 20-yr-old women with perfect figures. Or, that my husband and I always fight on vacation (it seems are personality differences are amplified when we travel). How do you post pictures of how you're feeling? 

It's true- we had a wonderful vacation. There were difficult moments... my kids didn't sleep well and were up by 5 AM every morning. Packing up for a day at the beach took awhile and then dragging everything that taking two kids to the beach requires down to the shore wasn't easy. Fighting the urge to compare my body with other women's bodies was a challenge. Staying calm with my children every time they melted down when I was feeling equally capable of a meltdown was not always something that happened.

Those are not great photo opportunities. A selfie in the middle of an argument with my husband? Am I allowed to complain or have rough moments when I am vacationing in Florida? Am I allowed to feel tired because my kids won't sleep when there are women who cannot conceive children?

We have created a mess. A mess where we aren't allowed to complain or be vulnerable because someone always has it worse. A mess where we just put our best selfie forward on social media... never truly exposing the mess we are. A mess that leads to loneliness and unfair comparison.

I am aware there is a line. We all need perspective. It is good for me to have the perspective of a woman who struggles with infertility... it helps me to be more grateful for my children. But I also need the perspective of the woman who feels like she is drowning as a mother. And if I'm not honest about my struggles and just show our perfectly filtered life on Instagram, I'm only contributing to her feelings of inadequacy. 
Walking around NOLA

So, let's be real. If you struggle, share it. Maybe it doesn't have to be your Facebook status... but reach out to someone. More than one person. Maybe the first few people won't get it. Find someone who will. Don't do it alone.

For the rest of us? Let's call social media what it is... an opportunity to display our best and our favorites. It's not an accurate depiction of anyone's life. Be honest with yourself about that when you are tempted to compare your inner turmoil to someone else's highlight reel.

And, by all means, if you feel overwhelmed or alone or like you can't do it anymore... please get help. I've had to do it. It is by no means easy. But it doesn't have to be so bad forever.


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