Life Versus Instagram

Last night, Greg and I went to an epic birthday party. Artisan foods, singers and performers, appearances by rock-and-roll hall of famers and a Grammy nominee, fresh juice bar, baristas making coffee, shrimp served inside ice sculptures, cake boss pastries, all the foods, all the drinks. I met passionate, inspiring people who are working on cool projects. I love hearing about these types of projects, but it creates a weird stirring of discontentment in me. I would love to partner with likeminded, creative people to bring beautiful things with a beautiful story into the marketplace--I feel like that's my sweet spot. And then I feel unsettled because I haven't arrived at that place yet and I begin to wonder if I should just start my own thing (without having a clue how) or if maybe I’m not as awesome as I think and maybe I should rethink all this nonsense.

And then I wonder if I'm just living in the wrong place to make something like that happen. All the people I met last night have their homebase elsewhere. Maybe there’s just not enough people doing those types of things here and maybe I should be in a different city to make it happen. Am I a sucker for being here? Would I be more advanced in my career if I were in a place like _____? 

Last night I watched three young ladies in tight dresses at table six. They are musical performers at the party. They are fluffing their hair and taking selfies and flirting while not flirting. They know from hours of practicing in front of the mirror what angle to drop their head to get the most favorable camera angle, they know how wide to smile and how to place their hair just so for that selfie, which is instantly posted to Instagram and their fan page. I know all this when I see them and I judge them so hard. I am in a totally different category, I tell myself. There is no comparing them to me. I am my own brand of awesome and someday, someone will notice my amazingness and make a fan page for me with hundreds of thousands of likes. This is a familiar routine for me: I see someone who has an opportunity (drop-shipped or not) into their lap and I will find a way to loathe them and find creative funny ways to paint them as less than. I’ve already dismissed them as vain, good for nothing idiots before they’ve opened their mouths. Surely they have no real talent and if they did, they would keep their mouths shut about it and wait for someone to notice it. Like me. And if no one ever notices their talent, then they should find creative and scathing ways to write others off as vain, good for nothing idiots. Like me.

What a tangled web I weave. Like Will Hunting, at least I won’t be unoriginal. 

In other words, I am in a funk today. Should I be selfie girl, exploiting all the details of my life in order to make other people feel like crap about their own? Not that my life is better, but with a good camera, white teeth and some decent vignettes I can sure make it seem that way. Especially if I give my followers tips on how to whiten their teeth, wear the right shade of lipstick to make those white teeth pop, and where to buy all the things to help their vignettes look pretty--but not as pretty as mine. You see, none of us will ever be good enough for Instagram. We will never be good enough for these lives that we pretend we have. 

The problem isn't table six at all....the problem is me. I wrestle with feeling like I'm not enough, that I'm not saying or doing the right things at the right time, that I'll fail. I struggle with comparing because I will always come up short. 

This morning, I wake up at home in Sherman Park. It’s an unusual day for me—the girls are at Grandma’s and we’re snowed in. We’re staying home today and Greg makes a fire. My first thought today was “wouldn’t it be great to walk and get a cup of coffee at my local cafe this morning?” Maybe I could post my snowy jaunt and that quintessential heart-shaped milk froth photo on Instagram. Hopefully I’d be able to nail that selfie with a trendy stocking cap and snowflakes landing on my eyelashes just so.  I'd be smiling a toothy grin because my life is just perfect and Instagram is my witness. But I don’t live in that kind of neighborhood. I could walk and get an airbrushed t-shirt, some liquor, flavored papers for rolling weed, or get my nails done. But an Instagram-worthy cup of coffee at a cafe, no.

I look out my window at the snow. One of my neighbors has already come by in the wee hours of the morning with their snowblower and cleared my walkway. I hear the scraping of shovels from other neighbors who are out right now clearing their sidewalks. I could walk out right now on my cleared sidewalk and would most likely end up talking to the neighbor who is shoveling and be invited inside their home for that cup of coffee. We’d likely end up in conversation for the next thirty minutes while sipping on that coffee. And pulling out my phone to take a photo is out of the question because there’s no heart shape froth at the brim. It's just two people, talking in a kitchen on a snowy day and there's no way to capture how beautiful that moment is.

And I know, on a very deep level, that this is just the kind of life that I want to have and there's no need to compare with anyone else. It’s harder than whitening my teeth, it takes more time and energy than buying pretty things. It makes me better. The beauty in our relationships will never be captured properly with an iPhone. All the pretty things on Instagram can't be compared to this real life, these hard decisions, these opportunities to pursue other people, these chances we have at being known. 

I also know that I need to be a better kind of person to the ladies at table six. They’re young, they’re figuring it out. I hope they have healthy people in their lives who will help them. I'm learning how to see them with new eyes. When I finish writing this, I'm going to go check out their music. I've heard it's actually pretty good....dammit.

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  1. Beautiful raw honest thoughts. My philosophy is to give my attention to all things that contribute to feelings of joy and contentment. Not to don rose colored glasses but because there is no better way to assist me or the world. Love to you for your authenticity. drscastor