Wrinkles and Relationships
It's amazing what photo filters can do for wrinkles and relationships.
As I scroll through my instagram feed, I see one continuous incongruity - I rarely edit photos of plants and scenery, but pictures with my face in them have gone through filters, sometimes more than one. Photos with my kids go through another sort of filter, the one where they are presented as loving, creative, motivated, funny and kind. I rarely capture the tantrums, the boredom or the fights.
The scrutiny I apply to my appearance and my life is hardly fair. Sure, we all look a little better in the brighter light that softens the wrinkles and splotches, and pictures of a placid family are less likely to generate panicked calls from friends and family. But what is going to happen when it all falls apart and we are seen in truth?
Here we go.
Here's me, and here's me.
It's not really a big difference, right? For whatever reason, I feel the need to "jazz" up the one on the right. There were even more drastic versions of the edits, but I started looking more like a paint-by-numbers version of myself.
I suspect you may sometimes do the same, especially if you share your life on social media. This problem doesn't stop with images of our own face. We start to arrange our spoons next to the dinner plate, drape the blanket a few inches to the left on the couch, push over the pile of laundry just a smidge, wipe the rim of the coffee cup, crop out that stray twig... all before snapping the picture. We treat our lives and homes and friendships as if they were an exhibit to be curated.
And we can't keep it up. We become that person that always has to make snarly lips in pictures because we can't stand what our face looks like when it is in its natural, unaware state. We can't invite people over for dinner because our living space would take more than a few days to straighten. We don't take our kids out to a nice dinner because they might drop their shoe under the table and smack their heads when they crawl around looking for it.
We just might let the curated image of ourselves hijack real life. Either we end up in alienation or burn out trying to hold it all together.
I once had a friend tell me that she loved coming over to my house essentially because the messiness of it made her feel welcome. I'm not sure that I agree completely - I would think that tidying up a bit shows anticipation and honor of a guest - but I get what she was saying. I wasn't putting on a show. I let her see me in all my mess.
Real friendship is exactly that. It is us and all our mess. People who love me and my family know that we don't paint by numbers, and they don't ask us to. They love the filtered me, but love the real me more.