October 25, 2017

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What a Tree Taught Me About Social Media

July 10, 2017



"Stop focusing on what you're not, and focus on everything you are."


This thought came to me the other night as I was scrolling through social media -- which is never a smart thing to do at 3 a.m. -- and feeling kinda "loser-ish".  Why, you ask?  Because social media is a double-edged sword.  It's a great tool for staying in touch and wonderful platform for voicing our thoughts and feelings.  But it's also a sort of trap.  We are bombarded by images of perfect bodies, smiling faces, and people having the time of their lives -- and sometimes we start to believe that those people are like that all the time. They never have a bad day.  They're never bloated.  They're perpetually successful and positive.  They are never curled up in the fetal position on their sofa wondering if they can make it through next week.


It's not that people only use social media to make their lives appear flawless and carefree.  In fact, it has become quite popular to be "vulnerable" on these platforms as well.  Spilling your heart and soul onto the virtual page for everyone to see can be cathartic.  And important.  And helpful.  But even the most vulnerable of posts can leave us feeling a little, well, less-than.  "She certainly has been through some tough things, and look how strong she is now.  I could never be like that."  No matter what the story is, our brain can twist it around to make us feel like we don't measure up.


This may be the reason why some of us delete our social media accounts one month, and then re-open them the next month.  It's most definitely a love-hate relationship.  If everything and everyone in life is our mirror, reflecting and amplifying the very qualities we dislike about ourselves, then social media is the biggest, mouthiest, and most obnoxious mirror of all.  It's a mirror we can't stand to look at.  And we can't seem to look away either.


So I ventured away from my social media feed and began scrolling through the pictures on my phone, looking for a good one to use for my next social media post.  (Hey, I know.  I see the irony.  It's messed up.)  And I found this picture I took when we were at the lake last weekend.  It was a picture of water and trees and a mountain.  As I zoomed in closer, I could see that some of the trees on the side of the hill were basically growing in rock!  And I thought that if those trees were anything like us, they might say something like this:  


"That tree over there sure has it made.  She has lots of soft dirt to grow in, while I'm sitting here on this rock.  Her life is perfect.  My life sucks."  


Or, "Look at that tree over there, growing on a rock and overcoming all this adversity and being all strong and buff.  He's amazing.  I could never do that."


But seriously -- nature.  She has a lot to teach us people.  Trees aren't sitting around looking at other trees, comparing themselves, or feeling inferior.  They just freaking grow where they are.  In the dirt. or on a rock.  In the full sun or in the shade of other, bigger, stronger trees.  They just do their thing. They don't worry about what they're not, because they know what they are.  


I love social media, and I don't plan to stop using it anytime soon.  What I will do, however, is try to keep it in perspective.  I won't compare my rock to someone else's dirt, or my dirt to another person's rock.  I'm just gonna try to freaking grow where I am.









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