My Not So Perfect Life
Greetings, blogosphere. Is there anyone out there? You may wonder for my happiness/sense of self given the title of this post, but rest assured, all is ok in my world.
I turned 35 one month ago, and as one of my birthday gifts(which I'd asked for) I received Sophie Kinsella's My Not So Perfect Life. I've been a fan of hers for years now, particularly the Shopaholic series, which I think I've mentioned in this blog before. In the novel, we meet Katie who is living the high life in the Big Smoke, with an Instagram feed to prove it. Katie is in awe of her boss Demeter who, in her eyes, is achingly cool. When her job comes to an end and already short of cash, she has to return to her parents' home in Somerset. Wanting to save face and keep up pretence of her London life, she tells her family she's on sabbatical. What she doesn't realise is that Demeter will come back into her life, in a way she could never have imagined.
Some parts of My Not So Perfect Life were uncomfortably close to my own experience(Sophie Kinsella, have you tapped into part of my past life?!), and aside from the spelling of her name, I found more in common with Katie than I maybe would have liked. We may share part of our lives on Instagram, but is is the full picture? Not exactly.
I recently deactivated my Facebook page for a month(which I'm just over half-way through), and also gave myself the following bans; no Twitter, no Snapchat, and the hardest one, no Instagram. The intention was so I could focus on NapoWriMo - writing 30 poems in 30 days - for more info go here
The effect was far more soul searching than I could have predicted. Here's one reason. About a month ago I went with loved ones to Jodrell Bank Observatory, a place I was so excited to go, as I have always loved space since I was a little girl. What's the connection, I can hear you thinking. At Jodrell Bank, you have to turn off your mobile phone before you go in, as the Lovell telescope is so powerful, it can pick up a mobile phone on Mars. Part way through the day, we went to the cafe which had some really cool clocks showing how time passes on different planets. Looking around I realised something pretty shocking in the age of smartphones. People were talking to each other, not glancing intermittently at screens. They were listening to each other as well, totally focused on what each other was saying. A lesson we can all learn from.
I'd recently got into a bad habit on social media of comparing my lives to other people's. A big thing in the twenty-first century is FOMO - Fear Of Missing Out. People saying yes to things they'd rather not do, for fear of what people would think if they don't. But how honest are people about their lives online? Are the lives of people you follow really an endless stream of parties and wholesome family days out, clean eating and perfect make-up and hair? I seriously doubt it. And most of us are guilty of it. Do I post a pre-workout shot and screenshot of how many steps I've done using my Fitbit? Sometimes, yes. A day sat on the sofa eating biscuits? Not so much.
Since not being on social media I've felt much better about my own life. I've never been one of the crowd and am comfortable with who I am, by not being on these different online platforms, I don't see pictures of the events I'm supposedly missing out on.
But is social media the only way in which people edit their lives? Don't we all live our lives through a filter in one way or another? When your colleague asks how your weekend was, do you tell them the boring parts or only tell them about the fun bits? When people ask how you are, do they really want to know the answer? When you next ask someone a question, do something a bit unusual and actually listen to what they're not saying. The spaces in between the silence are key.
I would urge everyone to read My Not So Perfect Life. I can't say I would stay off social media forever, it's unrealistic, and many of my friends and family share their biggest news that way. But I'll definitely be thinking about how I share when I return. If you use Instagram check out the My Not So Perfect Life feed
Don't forget, it's okay to not be okay sometimes.