Lately I’ve been catching myself living in a way that people can see. I think something funny and I want to share it. I look good and I want to post a picture. Plagued with an abundance of self-awareness, I’m finding myself in a place where I’m contemplating a total overhaul of how I live my life.
It’s not that wanting to post and share things about your life is bad, I just wonder if the intention is good.
Why do we want to post things? Is it just simply out of habit and that everybody is doing it? Is it because you’re proud? Is it to prove your worth? Is it for a compliment? Is it for validation? I’d feel pretty confident in saying that it is a combination of all of these things.
I don’t think social media is bad. In fact, it’s been incredible for a lot of things. I don’t know, though, if feeling the need to live your life in a way that makes sure everybody sees is good.
We live in a very outward culture. We post about our lives all the time, mostly celebrating our wins, from the cool and fun things we do every day to the major life events. I believe that social media has taken on a role that is so much bigger than we’re even aware, and I find myself wondering, Who am I living for?
Am I living for the people who follow me on Instagram, from friends to family to acquaintances to strangers? Of course we want to say no immediately, but think about it: If you have ever felt compelled to take a picture of your meal or the vacation you’re on and share it (of course you have), why is that?
I don’t think this is a rhetorical question; I think you should really look for the answer.
The answers that I have come up with, if we’re being radically honest (which is my only switch), would all lead me to the conclusion that I am not always my first priority when living my life.
I’ve decided I’m going to start living for me. To do that, I think we have to ask ourselves how we would live and who we would be if nobody could see.
If social media was never a thing. If pictures were taken for your personal scrapbooks. If the way to get to know someone was by asking them who they are. If the only way to say what was on your mind was to use your voice or write a letter. If nobody knew what job you had unless they asked…
Who would you be? What would you do?
I’m working on this and I think you should too. The truth is that the person that emerges when there are no eyes on you, no fear of judgment, and no need for acceptance is your authentic self. The truth is that that authentic self doesn’t need anyone’s approval and it doesn’t fear anyone’s judgment.
Living for you might mean something that looks radically different from what you have and what you see. It is in high school sociology that we learn of the power of groupthink and social conformity. These concepts are not new and are not complex, but I think we’re missing how they are glaringly present in our lives today. From Bali to Boston, people tend to post the same kinds of things; how is that possible when I know that everyone is perfectly unique and distinct?
Blame it on my wild nature, but I wonder if we all started living for ourselves, doing what we want, when we want it, following our own light, posting less, sharing less, doing more, no more comparing and instead cultivating, would our world shine brighter? Less weight, more fun? Less conformity, more extraordinary?
I can’t say for sure, but I’m going to start living for me.