Dictionary.com defines it as "not false or copied; genuine; real"; "representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified".
Is it possible to be truly authentic in a world of staged photos, filmy filters, and careful editing?When the only parts of our day that other people see are carefully chosen snippets of our choosing? I've gone back and forth on my answer, but I think I have finally come to a conclusion.
I think it is possible, but I also think it is very hard.
It's so easy in our world of social media to loose yourself amongst the plethora of filters and laughing "candids". It's easy to get bogged down as you scroll by picture after picture of perfectly happy babies and mamas who seem to have it all together. How quickly we forget that the word of social media is not true reality but a carefully curated version of life that we like to pretend is authentic.
Now don't get me wrong; I love beautiful photos. And no, I don't want to look back through my Instagram feed and see shots of dirty diapers, mountains of laundry, and screaming babies; that's just not how I want to remember motherhood.
But at the same time there is something in me, in all of us I believe, that craves to be real, honest, open, and vulnerable. We want to represent the world for all its beauty and pain.
Finding Real Life
There was a time when I felt like I got lost in the tiny squares of Instagram and forgot for a moment who I was. All I saw day after day were golden hued pictures of children in stockings and bonnets. I read captions of mama's hearts "exploding" with love for their children and I grimaced that I didn't feel the same way.
I struggled with the thoughts that maybe my life didn't live up; or maybe I was doing it wrong.
So I went on a journey to "feel all the feels" and capture "kindred memories" and I filtered the crap out of my life until only the rosy, golden hued moments of false joy remained; and you want to know what I figured out? We are enough. My life is good enough. Whether I measure up to Instagram's perfect standards or not is not the problem; how I view my life is the problem.
When I found myself frustrated and hating my feed and all my photos because they reflected a life I don't feel we truly led was the moment something in me snapped.
I was done with Instagram and done playing the games of the perfect Instamom. Because the truth is it doesn't matter whether or not they like your photos; it matters if you like your photos.
I hope that when my children are grown and have moved on, I will be able to look back at those little squares and laugh, smile, maybe shed a tear. I want to remember the glorious messes we made while crafting. The fun we had using our imaginations. Our daily adventures and yes even the struggles that came with them.
I hope that when I look back on my social media presence I can feel that I represented myself and motherhood well in those little squares; because nothing about it is a cake walk.
What I've Learned
Even though I am wading through the midst of the struggle right now, I know someday I will look back and "feel all the feels". So I'm doing my best to portray motherhood through social media as I experience it; the real and the raw, the good and the bad, the laughter and the struggle.
Because motherhood passes in the blink of an eye; there is no sense in trying to be someone you're not or portray a life that isn't real.
So if you find yourself in the place I was, struggling to see the real me in my feed, take a step back and reevaluate. Sometimes I think we need to relax a bit more and remember to have a little fun. It can be so daunting putting yourself out there on social media day after day; you never know how people will respond to your photos or captions, but you know what? Who cares!?
I mean for real; who really cares?
I think we put far too much weight on what other's think of us rather than just deciding if we actually like ourselves. Bottom line, is it possible to be "authentic" on social media? Yes I believe it is. But it started with knowing who you are and being confident in expressing yourself.
Don't take flack from anyone girl. Don't ever let them get you down. If you're out there being yourself and enjoying your life, don't let anyone make you feel bad. I decided a long time ago that I would be unapologetically me and though I lose sight of that sometimes; I always come back around.
Do you feel you are living representing and authentic you on social media? If not, I hope you'll take a moment to step back, breathe, and rediscover who you are. Because there is no one else worth being friend.