You scroll through your Facebook feed and everything looks impossibly perfect.
Cupcakes spewing rainbow unicorns, immaculate flower bouquets stylishly faded through Instagram filters, babies that never cry or barf on anyone’s sweaters.
We’re all living in gorgeously curated Pinterest boards online, aren’t we?
You follow suit and share your most magically-filtered moments as well—the times when you’re most selfie-worthy, or frolicking on the most pristine beach—all the while knowing that your life has way more facets than you’re showing. You, like all of us, experience both joy and heartache in equal measure, while displaying only your sparkly side to the majority of the world.
Hopefully, by now, we’ve all learned this important lesson: without sadness, we’d never be able to know what true happiness feels like.
Studies have shown that fully expressing a wide range of emotions is better for you in the long run than keeping everything locked up in a secret feelings box inside your heart.
Here in Costa Rica, I’ve been told by well-meaning friends that I’m “not allowed” to have a bad day. The question “How are you?” is always answered with, “All good”, or “Pura vida.” Boyfriend cheats on you? Pura vida. Your house gets burgled? Pura vida.
It’s like living in a strange fantasyland where all of the bad, unfortunate, sad things roll off everyone’s backs like they’re a bunch of ducks. Unflappable. Copacetic. Chill to the max.
But HEL-lo…it isn’t real. Costa Rica is absolutely where I want to live my life, but this is not how I want to live my life.
My daily life continues to teach me that you can’t have the good without the bad.
It’s so easy to get your feet stuck in the mud of unhappiness—when what you should do is look at it, acknowledge it, and choose to MacGyver yourself a bridge to walk over it, all sanguine-like. Or throw caution to the wind! Roll up your cuffs and trudge right through that muck in your bare feet to the exquisite beauty that waits on the other side! The challenges I experience—sure they’re tough—but they only make me more me.
Another thing, and this is key to learning who I am, is connecting with people who resonate with my inner harmony. Real community, in my book, means diving into relationships rather than floating on the surface. Those folks who project only their bright sides online, or the people I encounter daily who favor the easy lie, the slippery manipulation, the quick cheat, rather than doing the necessary—sometimes challenging—work of figuring out who they are, then showing up in a real, wholehearted way? That’s not me, and that’s not my tribe.
I want to surround myself with people who are at home with their own imperfections, who realize that flaws make us who we are. I wish for a community made up of individuals who live in—and stand up for—integrity.
I crave relationships with people who try their hardest every day to live their values, who walk their talk. To me, that’s perfectly imperfect; that’s real.
When we finally realize that who we are is beautiful and true, we get to live fully. We become ourselves. And our tribe will coalesce as we share with each other, drawn by the invisible threads we weave together, no matter where we are in the world or how we’re feeling at a given time.
How do you show up online: Pinterest-perfect, or perfectly imperfect? How do you think the life you share—or don’t share—affects the life you’re living?
Author: Chrissy Gruninger
Editor: Caroline Beaton
Image: Gisela Giardino/Flickr