I read the book Eat, Pray, Love over a decade ago and I still reference the lessons I took from it on a regular basis. Honestly, Elizabeth Gilbert had me feeling like I needed to go on a year long journey to find myself, and at that time I probably did. I still feel like I want that journey, but I don’t feel like I need it anymore. But this is a recent revelation. A few months ago I was just as lost as I was when I first read that book.
For the past few years we have all been living in the era of Instagram perfection. You know what I’m talking about… where we follow unknown people who are living their best lives in hopes that, someday, we can also live our best lives just like them. Well, at least that is how I have been interpreting it. For me, I needed to have the perfect business, perfect body, perfect vacations, perfect everything. But that never happened and I was always so let down. I would be living these great experiences and think, “Well that’s not how this instagram ‘influencer’ did this so clearly I did it wrong and can no longer enjoy this amazing opportunity.” How crazy is that! But I’m not even joking in the least when I say that this is how I felt.
The culprit behind these feelings is Instagram. Yes, I’m pointing the finger and assigning blame. Don’t get me wrong though, I LOVE INSTAGRAM! I still do. I am on it more than most and that is how I started noticing the trend I am going to delve into, the trend of the decline in insta-perfect lives.
I decided to jump off the insta-perfect train about 4 months ago. Honestly, I don’t remember the exact day. I just remember thinking that I couldn’t do this anymore. I already have a perfect for me life and I was ruining it because I wasn’t skinny enough, I hadn’t been to Morocco, I hadn’t reached 10,000 Instagram followers so that I could finally have the coveted swipe up feature, etc.
Taking a break from Instagram completely opened my eyes to the potential that I still have. I have always wanted to be a writer. Even when I was little I thought that being able to write wherever, whenever you want had to be the best job. There is something about a person that can paint the perfect picture using only words, bring you to a completely foreign place and make you feel that you are a part of it. I want to be a part of that elite club of writers. But trying to live the “Instagram-perfect life” crippled me to a point where I had stopped writing altogether because I just needed to find who I was again, not the person who was comparing herself to every other person on a social media platform.
All of this had me thinking of Eat, Pray, Love again. You know that scene in the movie where they’re in the barber shop and she is saying how she feels guilty because she’d been in Italy for three weeks and all she had accomplished was eating. Then the Italians in the room explain to her about Dolce far Niente, the sweetness of doing nothing. Pretty much saying that Americans feel too much guilt and work too hard to the point of experiencing burnout. Well, I am ready to stop feeling guilty that my life doesn’t look as perfect as someone else’s. I am ready to start living this one life that I am given. I am ready to be the best version of myself, even if it’s not documented for the world to see!
Why don’t we all stop trying to live a “perfect” life and start living the life that we want? I bet that will be a whole lot more fun than comparing ourselves to others and feeling guilty. Plus, the journey will be completely our own, which is a much better story anyway.