Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I see you

I’ve mentioned before that I’m new to social media. It’s only been in the last 6 months or so that I’ve plunged into various platforms to connect with the world. On one hand, I feel hooked. There are lots of parts that are surprisingly enjoyable. On the other hand, I’m still ambivalent. I wrestle with how much of me to put out there and for what purpose.

As I’m sorting my way through it all it’s been fascinating just to non-judgmentally observe other people’s online behavior. People seem exceptionally witty via a social media platform. They also seem more attractive, more adventurous, more philosophical…just all around more awesome. What’s interesting about it all is what a good friend recently shared: “To everyone else I must look totally narcissistic. But when I post, it’s my way of checking, ‘Am I pretty? Do I look ok?’” That fascinated me and I appreciated her honesty. While we intuitively know there’s more behind the image, I think the image tells such a compelling story that we forget everyone has their insecurities; we all have an internal reality that might look very different than what's projected to others.

But here’s the gift we have in social media. It offers the mirroring and attunement we used to get as babies. What I mean by that is that when we were younger we would put something out there (a facial expression, a word, a thought) and (if our parents were healthy) then it was reflected back. It made us feel safe knowing that we were seen and heard and we could have as much impact on our world as it has on us. It’s the same way with posting. When you post a picture, upload a video, add a status update, or communicate in any way, you generally get immediate feedback- a like, a favorite, a retweet, what have you. That’s incredibly reinforcing depending on the day you’re having.


I know personally when I post an image it’s not that I’m necessarily fishing for compliments. It’s more about checking in like my friend shared: I feel confident here. Am I confident? I feel happy here. Am I happy? I feel optimistic about life. Will I have a good life? I think I look good here. Am I lovely? It all goes back to being seen.

Here’s my conclusion. I’m not sure the phenomenon is good or bad…it just is. I think the opportunity we have to mirror one another is an honor. We all need that sometimes. Perhaps before critiquing someone’s representation consider what they might need from you. Maybe it’s a rough day for them. Maybe they’re searching for something or feeling a bit disconnected. Maybe all they’re looking for is someone to witness who they are and reflect back to them, I see you.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Bouncing back

I recently saw this clip of an athlete from several years ago who got back up and won her race after literally falling on her face. I went through so many emotions as I viewed the footage. There was immediate shock and concern when she fell. Was she okay? Then once she got back up and started making up the distance, I found myself rooting for her. I got chills as I witnessed her extraordinary ability to get back up and finish…and not just finish, but finish and win.

This is the definition of resilience- the ability to rebound and to bend and flex without being broken. I believe we all have this inherent quality inside. We all possess the ability to conquer our challenges of life. Yet, some people realize the gift they have inside and others do not. What makes the difference? I’d say it’s a matter of tenacity.

We all have something we hope we never have to face…something that we think would absolutely destroy us if it came to pass. For me, it was betrayal, rejection, and abandonment by a loved one. And despite my best attempts to safeguard against that deeply feared trinity, they happened anyway when a relationship ended badly a few years ago. I won’t lie. I went to a very low, very dark place. It was the kind of despair that puts you in the fetal position and makes you want to fall asleep and not wake up. But even when the pain was excruciating, something in me kept going. Giving up wasn’t an option. It was like my spirit saw my life beyond the moment and spoke to me to get back up. The steps were wobbly at first, but as I kept moving I gained stability. Then as I stabilized, I felt a fighter rise up inside. I refused to let that moment, that person, that loss knock me down and keep me down. I was going to overcome it because that’s who I am.
That’s what resilience is to me…that, “Oh hell no!” attitude toward obstacles. We all have a fighter in us. Sometimes the fighter lays dormant inside until just the right moment when we have to show ourselves and the world what we’re made of. Now hear me, it’s not about going out and seeking pain and trauma to endure. Truthfully, if you live long enough difficulty will probably find you without you looking for it. What I mean is try to get to a place where you embrace all facets of life- the abundance and the lack, the joy and the sorrow, the love and the loss. Whatever you’re facing today, you already have everything you need to overcome. But you have to keep moving. Even if you’ve fallen down several times, get back up. Get back up and finish your race.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Photo bombers

Yesterday I was catching up with a friend about another friend. I asked about the most recent guy she was talking to because I didn’t know anyone was in the picture. She replied, “Well, he was in the picture but he wasn’t the picture. It was more like he photo bombed.” We busted out laughing and went back and forth another ten minutes or so joking about different guys over the years that had “photo bombed” our lives. It tickled us, but maybe you had to be there. The point is it got me thinking about this relatively recent phenomenon where strangers just insert themselves in your pictures without permission. What is that about?


I tried to think of reasons people might do that. For some people, they know it’s wrong and they know they aren’t invited, but it’s part of the thrill to do it anyway. For the majority of others though, it’s probably more about being playful and wanting to be a part of the fun. Either way there’s a subtle but clear understanding that there are some who are actually meant to be in the picture and others who are not.

When you apply this idea to dating or any relationship really, it gets even more interesting. The contenders, as one friend says, are those who have serious intentions in getting to know you. They have expressed genuine interest and corroborated their intent with an honest pursuit. The pretenders, on the other hand, might have a casual, fleeting interest, or perhaps they are genuinely curious about who you are, but they have not taken steps to really know you on any deep level. That might be perfectly okay. Not everyone is marriage material or a BFF. The problem is when pretenders masquerade as contenders and get access to your heart space. Both of the friends above and myself can attest to the crappy feeling of realizing after the fact that someone struck an emotional chord even though they never should’ve been there at all.

So what do you do if your life has been photo bombed? Realize it happens to the best of us. Once you realize someone’s not supposed to be there, wrap it up and move on. Or if they leave first, let them go. Embrace that every detail of your life is divinely appointed, but especially relationships. Some are casual, some are seasonal, and a few are for the long haul. If you misjudged someone’s role in your life, who cares? Live and learn. Give them a funny nickname as my girls and I are in the habit of doing and find those connections that are meant to be in the picture. And next time just be a little more aware of potential photo bombers. It is beach season after all.