4 Minutes (Not The Madonna Song)

27 Apr

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It took about four minutes. Four minutes and 20 posts before I was utterly depressed.

I don’t follow certain types of bloggers for this reason. They are not aspirational to me, they are depressing.

Suddenly I’m looking at their tiny bodies in tiny bikinis, on everlasting vacations paid for by others. Suddenly their luscious locks and free clothing make my life feel like one giant slog towards death.

Suddenly the questions I ask myself are

Where did everything go so wrong

Should I make mac and cheese

Wouldn’t that be coping with food

You’re not even hungry

But it will make me feel better

Fine, you have no self control look at that tiny body

Suddenly I’m there.

The thing that bothers me most about these bloggers is that they are selling this as real life. It’s different than a fashion ad in a magazine where you know it is a model posed to sell the clothing. These girls are posing to sell clothing, but also under the guise of “sharing their life.” Here we are on vacation. Again. Best husband, best sunset, best life.

And when you make it personal like that, when you take away hey this just an ad designed to sell clothing and instead say hey look my life is so out-of-this-world, if you bought these things yours would be too, then it becomes dangerous.

No one gets a free pass in life, an existence smooth and wrinkle-less. We all have things.

Christine Amorose, a writer I follow, posted recently about travel bloggers. She said:

I’m friends with a lot of travel bloggers (both online and in real life), and there’s often this very obvious (or sometimes sneakily subtle) feeling of superiority because they travel regularly and make a living from it. Sometimes they even want to teach you how to do it too (!), as if the world needs fewer accountants and engineers and secretaries and is instead calling out for more people to get paid to take photos of waterfalls and post them on Instagram. Even as someone with her toes dipped in the industry, I have the very real sense that this whole travel influencer thing is all a huge bubble that might very well burst. And I see all of the ebooks and guides on “how you can do it too!” and headlines screaming about six-figure salaries while thinking: but is the behind-the-scenes as desirable as the highlight reel? Is that flashy salary paying for health insurance and 401Ks? Are you really as content as the life that you’re trying to sell?

Because within this narrative of exotic travel equaling the dream life, there’s a latent disdain for a life of commutes and offices and mortgages and “the real world” in which many of us live. Speaking as someone who regularly deals with train delays and arbitrary work hours and exorbitant rent payments, I can say quite honestly that there are certainly days in which I would prefer to be sipping a margarita while staring at a turquoise sea instead of dealing with “real life.” But as someone who travels fairly regularly for work and for play, I can also say that real life has a way of catching up with you, no matter where in the world you are. There can be joy and heartache and arguments and the feeling as if everything is finally clicking together at home or the office or while stuck in traffic on your way home just as much as it can happen on vacation.

I so appreciated this, and I so appreciate this writer. She is someone who gets paid to travel, she’s always honest about it, and she never makes her life into something it’s not. I never stare at her and think why not me?

The truth of the matter is, I’ve never wanted to switch lives with someone I know. As soon as you know someone, you see their struggles and realize, oh, ok, no thanks. But it’s the allure, the illusion of perfection of someone you don’t know who convinces you that others out there. They are experiencing a smooth, wrinkle-free life!

Another writer I love says it this way:

Chances are, if you are reading this, you’re noticing a bit of a chasm between the life you lead and the life you want to lead, and here’s a secret: we all have this chasm. We all have this gap. There is nothing broken in you that is not broken in everyone. We are each conditioned to want something different than what we have been given. And so, you have two options: (1) Chase someday, or (2) Accept today. I recommend the latter. Remind yourself that you are here, breathing, alive and well(ish). For now, let that be enough.

I think what’s missing for me in (many) of these types of bloggers is the “we all have this gap” aspect. I read stories and write stories to assure myself that what I feel is normal, that we’re all in this together. We have chasms, we chase after things we shouldn’t. But there is nothing broken in me that isn’t broken in everyone.

I spent four minutes of my beautiful, flawed life looking at someone’s fake, flawed life and it was not a good use of my time.

But I am here, breathing, alive and well(ish). For now, that’s enough.

(And one day, I’ll forget to look.)

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8 Responses to “4 Minutes (Not The Madonna Song)”

  1. Fiona April 28, 2017 at 9:49 am #

    Gosh, yes.
    I am not an envious person but Instagram has shown me that it’s certainly within me to nurture it. To battle feelings of defeat or depression after wishing that I also slept upon crisp white linen in a perfectly decorated house with the beach on my doorstep, I jump to reasons to pridefully justify my life as more meaningful and genuine. Or I try aspire to those #goals (I need new linen I say!) even though I can’t afford it. Or I come up with reasons that it must all be a sham.
    But I am reminded that whichever strategy I use is a big fat distraction from the questions I should be asking myself. I found this article which reminds me of who I [truly] want to be, not what my sinful self thinks it should be : https://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/opinion/sunday/david-brooks-the-moral-bucket-list.html?_r=2&referer=http://www.cestchristine.com/2015/04/notes-on-authenticity/

    • jillianlorraine April 28, 2017 at 9:25 pm #

      YES to all of this. I love “I jump to reasons to pridefully justify my life as more meaningful and genuine.” I do the same–my life is more real, or I’m better in these ways. Still missing the point, still comparing, still trying to justify why I’m OK and they aren’t.

      That article is incredible! I especially love the end: The stumbler doesn’t build her life by being better than others, but by being better than she used to be. Unexpectedly, there are transcendent moments of deep tranquillity. For most of their lives their inner and outer ambitions are strong and in balance. But eventually, at moments of rare joy, career ambitions pause, the ego rests, the stumbler looks out at a picnic or dinner or a valley and is overwhelmed by a feeling of limitless gratitude, and an acceptance of the fact that life has treated her much better than she deserves.

      Those are the people we want to be.

      Thank you for sharing!

  2. Rachel Del April 28, 2017 at 10:01 am #

    Oh goodness. How happy I was to come across this post.

    I’ve been feeling this way a lot lately–looking at someone else’s “perfect” life and comparing it to my own. It’s one of the BIG reasons I decided to take a social media break (I’m in the midst of it right now). While I definitely miss Instagram, I know that in the past four days I have been comparing myself/my life/my clothes/my marriage/my kid to everyone else that I see. and MAN is that a breath of fresh air.

    I’ve opened tabs of the articles/people you linked to in this post and will be reading them now. Thanks for sharing. It’s nice to know i’m not alone.

    • jillianlorraine April 28, 2017 at 9:32 pm #

      Thank you! I’ve been wondering about a social media break, let me know how yours goes. I don’t often feel envious, but when I do it hits me hard and I hate the person I become in those moments. I’ve wondered about doing a break once a week for a day or something? I started with unfollowing anyone who made me feel bad about myself and I found that made a huge difference. No fashion bloggers. No “hate follows” or people that I try to compare myself to. It still happens, though, as this post is evidence of.

      • Rachel Del May 2, 2017 at 2:32 pm #

        Wow. My break was so much in need of. I’ve come out the other end less interested in endlessly scrolling the way i used to. SUCCESS!

  3. sarah April 28, 2017 at 11:25 am #

    yes! all of this! my favorite is that bit from erin loechner, and (i’m sure you’ve read it) her book is so full of all that realness. we are all struggling with this balance – of being both/ands – but those bloggers, man. they make life seem so easy.

    • jillianlorraine April 28, 2017 at 9:28 pm #

      Erin is such a wise soul. I found it interesting, one of my favorite bloggers “retired” and she has since opened up a bit about how unreal her life had become. I would like more of that while people are blogging.

  4. Christine Amorose May 18, 2017 at 7:09 pm #

    <3 <3 <3

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