I guess about a month ago I saw the above quote. I had been noticing this insecurity problem in myself and others for a long time now, maybe two or three years, and the quote so succinctly boiled the problem down. It just hit me square in the face. We’ve created this world where we are basically viewing everybody through a keyhole and mistakenly thinking that what is in our line of sight represents their entire life. We don’t see everyone’s “behind-the-scenes” most of the time, but we use the tiny sliver we do see to judge ourselves very harshly.
In September of 2012, I opened a new chapter in my blogging by talking about vulnerability and how it is so important to story telling and human connection. I absolutely believe that and understood that concept looong before I ever started blogging in 2009. Even though I believe that and am actively working here to form deep human connections, specifically around the struggle of illness and the journey to health, it is still sometimes really tough for me to be truly open and vulnerable.
You would think that we’d all be super open, super vulnerable people in this age of internet living. We have all these platforms to share our lives on, like Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter. That isn’t what happens most of the time though, instead we live at once extremely public and extremely private lives. Manisha Thakor, a financial educator, puts it this way, “Social media has created an alternative universe where we can “stage” our lives and then share those images the same way a magazine might stage a layout.”
This staging, this focus on only the highlight reel, happens in all sorts of arenas. Nervous about being judged as a mom . . . stage it. Anxious about how good your marriage is compared to a friend’s . . . stage it. Not sure your career looks successful enough . . . stage it. And because I spend nearly all my time focused on people battling autoimmunity and attempting to manage their health with a Paleo approach, I see lots of edgy apprehension around whether or not one’s efforts in this area are perfect enough. “Is she more Paleo than me?” “Is he managing his MS better than me?” The insecurity involved in mentioning that you don’t have an amazing yoga routine down that has transformed your joint pain is nearly as excruciating as the joint pain itself. Being sure that the coconut milk you are using in the photo of your morning breakfast has been flawlessly manufactured without a single additive from an impeccable organic local sustainable farm where the farmers are making a living wage and that before even putting it to your lips, you have first done an extensive elimination and reintroduction period complete with a well-organized food journal that notes even the slightest reaction . . . we aren’t that vulnerable at all, but we are in a lot of internal turmoil.
I want to help create the most supportive community I can around this “illness-to-health through diet and lifestyle” journey. I want it to feel safe enough to be vulnerable. I care a lot about the emotional part of this thing, ’cause it has such a big impact on recovery. Our stories matter more when they are less staged and our connections, while we try to do this intensely hard work, will be deeper. Try to be more mindful that what you see on social media probably only represents a quarter, at best, of people’s real lives. Cheer for the highlight they are sharing with you, but don’t judge your life or efforts as worse of based on it.
So tell me, what “unstaged” part of your healing journey are you most worried about sharing? I’ll go first . . . I am most worried that my food sourcing isn’t “pure” enough and the Paleo/AIP community will view me as less committed or less informed based on that “purity.” The truth is that we’ve currently gone as far as we can go within our financial and time budgets to source real food. An example, I do not eat only organic fruits and veggies. GASP! My highlight reel focuses on the organic produce I do eat though. There! Now you guys know a little more about the “unstaged” me, so tell me about you!