Most days I have to remind myself that everyone has at least two versions to their life- the one that they show and the one they hide.
My mum tells the story of being surprised at how tidy my dad’s flat was the first time she saw it. Until she looked behind the sofa!
I wonder what people move out of view when they’re on a zoom call, or do they pick an entirely different background to hide it all?
What’s behind your metaphorical sofa?
Spending a lot of time on social media can mislead us into thinking that everybody else is living a better, happier, more ‘successful’ life than we are. Photographs of rosy-cheeked families having joyous (you never see grumpy) nature walks, athletes standing on top of mountains or children in an immaculate kitchen holding a perfect cake, hit us time and time again. On Twitter especially I come across people who have read the best book or had it published.
The harsh year of 2020 either made us into boasters: ‘look what I’ve learned to do’, ‘here’s a list of the three hundred books I read’, ‘duo lingo has helped me to become fluent in Latin,’
or into shadows.
Often when I spend time reading Twitter I find myself shrinking with a feeling of disappointment and failure; I haven’t learnt a new skill, read a library of books or mastered a language. Don’t get me wrong, I think announcing our successes is so important, especially this past year. It shows a laudable, fighting spirit that I’ll celebrate in another post another time.
I watch as many individuals seem to be doing this whole living thing better than mostly exhausted, defeated little me. But then I remember that everyone has two lives: the one that they show, and the one they hide. Even the most glittery post has a more real, insecure person behind it. They just push that shadowy part of themselves into the dark.
I’m more interested in the parts that people want to hide than the ones they put on display, because those are real and true and in need of our kindness. So this year I’m going to try to approach the presented life with a more discerning eye. I didn’t learn a new skill or publish a best seller but now I want to learn to acknowledge the hidden worlds.
And maybe, when we do that, our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram friends will feel brave enough to let us in.