Virtual Competition

We all have that one friend whose life could be a Hallmark movie. She spends her days organizing family sing-a-longs, has slow-motion snowball fights, and she snuggles with her family by the fireplace, drinking cocoa and wearing matching pajamas. The Golden Retriever has a matching neckerchief. And the toddler doesn’t spill hot chocolate on the white, plush velvet couch.  

This woman is too amazing to hate. I imagine she cries one beautiful tear that rolls slowly down her cheek as she ponders her incredible existence. The soundtrack to her life would be all violins and cellos.  

My life’s soundtrack is basically a record scratch. 

So how do I know this perfect woman with her perfect hair and her perfect family and her perfect life?  

I follow her on social media. (Stalking is such a harsh word.) 

She posts pictures of her family cheerfully eating dinner that didn’t come from a freezer box, or shares a video as she dances out the door in a slinky red dress that she’s wearing to a charity event where she’ll donate her time to help orphaned goats in Uzbekistan. 

I’ve never owned a slinky red dress. I’ve never saved orphaned goats. 

This woman has a circle of friends that travel to spa retreats and spiritual workshops. I imagine them talking on the phone, laughing at the extraordinary circumstances that allowed them to live on this planet with such good fortune. 

My friends need to ramp up their game. 

Her Instagram feed is an advertisement for excellence. Her children willingly pose for family photos, her redecorated bathroom (that she did for less than $50) is chic and stylish.  

My family photoshoots turn into a fistfight, and my effort at redecorating my bathroom consisted of a sloppy repaint in a color that was supposed to be “seafoam green,” but looks more like “hospital lunchroom.” 

Her LinkedIn profile. . . (Okay, I admit it. This sounds suspiciously like stalking.) Her LinkedIn profile is a list of accomplishments that makes me wonder if she has a body double. She sits on charity boards (hence, the Uzbek goats), founded her own company and has won several awards. 

It took me three weeks to write a LinkedIn profile because I had nothing to say. Good thing I have experience in creative writing. 

One day, by sheer coincidence, I met this woman. Well, I didn’t meet her. I eavesdropped on a conversation she was having. (Stop judging me. Everyone eavesdrops. Right?) 

I heard her say her divorce was almost final. I heard her express concern about her teenage son. I heard her say she was struggling. What I really heard was that her life was messy.  

Finally. Something I could relate to. My life is messy, too! 

I was instantly ashamed. I realized I’d made up a completely inaccurate story about this woman based on snapshots of happy moments; single instances in time that she shared with the world.  

How much do we not share with the world? 

Social media has destroyed the self-esteem and confidence of more women than the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and Beyonce combined. We spend hours scrolling through posts, videos, photos and updates that make our heads swim with inadequacy. 

We often succumb to the “Why bother?” attitude and medicate ourselves with bags of hot Cheetos. 

I challenge someone to create a social media page where no filters are allowed. Everything must be real and honest and messy. Our lives don’t have to be Hallmark movies, but it’s about damn time we realized we’re already enough.  

 

Originally published in the Davis Clipper

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