Something’s been nudging me to reveal some truths about our honeymoon ever since I posted a picture from it for our two-year anniversary this past February. I wish I could ignore the prodding and just leave people to assume that we enjoyed the most perfect honeymoon full of only romance and carefree bliss (which, by the way, paved the way into this fantasy marriage that has yielded nothing other than deep-seated joy, fulfillment and our perpetually sweet little offspring who is all giggles and smiles and never, ever tries our patience or makes us question what the front door we were thinking when we declared ourselves ready to be parents). However, leaving people under those assumptions wouldn’t just be boring and un-beneficial; it would be downright deceptive.
Instead, I’m going to use our honeymoon as an example of how misleading social media can be because in all likelihood, if I came across some of the images we managed to get of ourselves on someone else’s wall or website, I’d immediately get sucked into the comparison game, wasting precious time convinced that her life, marriage and emotional state are all superior to mine and therefore her worth as a person outweighs my own. It’s all a dirty little mind trick that social media can expertly execute by allowing us to conceal our flaws and vulnerability behind a screen.
It seems logical to assume that by enabling us to exhibit only the aspects of our lives that we’re proud of, social media serves to increase confidence in ourselves and acceptance of one another. However, as I’ve been learning more and more recently, it’s through admitting our vulnerability, faults and failures that we are united with one another and reassured that, “we’re all broken but we’re all in this together,” as the ever-insightful Matt Maher reminds us.
Social media, however, tends to encourage the sharing of anything but our brokenness. In many cases, for example, a struggling new mom will post darling pictures of her brand-new bundle and insist-agram that motherhood fits her like a glove. Meanwhile, behind the screen, she’s so exhausted she can barely hold the cereal box to pour herself some dinner, she’s in tears every time she nurses her baby because breastfeeding feels like nipple crucifixion, and she’s struggling to distinguish the faint line between baby blues and postpartum depression.
Don’t get me wrong: I melt over newborn pictures just as much as the next gal (or adorably sensitive guy) and keeping friends and family members connected is one of the blessings of social media. The problem is when these carefully selected glimpses into other people’s lives tempt us to question our own worth and abilities.
As blogger Cheryl Zelenka explains, “Suffering unites us all. Each person has experienced pain. Therefore, we can compassionately connect with others through this common bond.” Of course, times of joy can also serve to bring us closer to one another and should absolutely not be discounted as meaningless. We were created for joy, which is why we find ourselves constantly chasing and grasping at those things we believe will bring it to us. Suffering, however, is what ultimately gives way to our experiences of happiness. If all our days were joyful, none of them would be. The deeper our capacity for suffering, the more expansive our experience of joy.
So in light of putting an end to pretending that everything is always picture perfect, and with the permission of my incredibly easygoing spouse, here are some untold truths about our honeymoon. Although it was an absolutely phenomenal nine days, like everything else in this life, it fell short of perfection.
We spent an entire afternoon fighting.
Looking back, it’s funny but, like most fights, it was deeply painful at the time. We ignored each other for hours, both refusing to swallow our own pride and approach one another in openness to hear the other’s version of what had happened. (A gigantic honeymoon suite can suddenly feel like a cardboard box when you're giving each other the cold shoulder.) When we did finally speak to each other, we used cruel words, intentionally cutting one another down because as newlyweds, we hadn’t yet learned how to argue productively. Like I said, deeply painful. But you don’t see the remnants of that pain in any pictures.
We spent another entire afternoon looking for a lost necklace we never found.
My husband’s grandmother had given him a gold chain and we tore our room apart looking for it. To make things more complicated, neither of us spoke fluent Spanish and we were honeymooning in the Dominican Republic so communicating the situation to the hotel staff and asking for their help was no easy undertaking. We're still waiting for someone to turn it in to their lost and found.
This picture is posed. I know. Shocking.
You were probably thinking we spent hours upon hours in these Disney prince and princess poses and some admiring, peeping tom happened to snap a picture and send it to us for keepsake purposes. No. It was more like, “Excuse me, senior? Can you, um, photo, por favor? Gracias! Okay, what are we going to do? We have too many of us just smiling…”
I got in the pool once the entire trip.
I’m not a pool person. Call me crazy but the idea of submerging myself into water harvesting strangers’ urine, perspiration, and any other bodily fluid they choose to discard just doesn’t sit well with me. Saying that chlorine kills it is, to me, like putting antibacterial gel on a turd. It's still a turd, my friend. It's still a turd.
On top of that, I hate being cold so needless to say, pools and I generally agree to disagree. The pool at our resort was fantasy fabulous, complete with a swim up bar. Still I managed to get in only once the entire time and it was only after my husband spent the morning patronizing my pool bacteria paranoia. I was miserable the entire time, continually reminding him of my discomfort.
Hopefully these tidbits shed some light on the fact that things are rarely as perfect as pictures can make them appear. Behind every photo is a life or lives that are chock full of their own fears, faults and failures, all of these unseen in a single snapshot. We’re all broken so maybe we should see the bigger picture, quit the crazy comparison game and let our brokenness unite us instead of being divided by pretend perfections.
Food for thought: Do you ever find yourself comparing your own life to those of people on social media? Have any tips for avoiding this tendency?
Copyright 2016 Elizabeth Pardi
About the Author
Elizabeth Pardi spends her days running, writing, and praying her way through this journey with her superstar spouse and their charming little ones, while occasionally sneaking espresso shots on the side. She shares the lessons she’s learning that make life’s loads a little lighter at LoveAlwaysLiz.com.