I’ve got one more amazing guest post for you today! My mom and sister loved your comments so thank you a lot! I’ll be back for good tomorrow but until then, enjoy Megan’s goodness:
Heeeeeyyyy HRG readers! It’s Megan D again. Can we all just pause for a moment and imagine we are on the beaches of Hawaii right now, like Janae?? Cause it is cold here in Utah and I am not a cold weathered person so I just want to imagine. For a sec. Just hold on.
(the beach in front of the house we stayed at in Hawaii last year #sigh #takemeback)
Okay. Thanks. Back to the blog. My last two posts I talked about not being able to run and my injuries, and then coming back from my injury. But today I wanted to talk about virtual reality. What does virtual reality have to do with running you say?
(We aren’t talking about THIS type of virtual reality)
Pretty much nothing. But neither do Janae’s trips to Target and Costco, yet here we all are;) This is a blog though. A form of social media— like Instagram or Snapchat. It’s a way we can take a peek into someone else’s life whom we don’t actually know. We see other people through social media. People from all over the world. We see their family, their routines, their workouts, their food, we learn their likes and dislikes- we get to know them well enough that it feels like we DO know them. I mean, that is how I felt before I met Janae in person- that she was down to earth, sweet, funny person. And she was! And then we became besties and lived happily ever after.
But does looking at other people’s lives on social media distort our views of what is real? Does this online ‘virtual reality’ make us forget what is normal? I know it does for me. Hi. Let me reintroduce myself. My name is Megan and I tend to get down on myself for not living up to what (I) think (I) should be like. I am a female #Obviously #WellHopefullyObviously and I think that might be in our nature. Maybe it isn’t in yours (if so, teach me your ways). When we see these photos of other people’s lives- people we don’t know and even the friend down the street- we are seeing small pieces of their life that they CHOOSE to put out there. TO be seen. The way THEY want them to be seen. Then, almost automatically, our brains put together a sequence of what we assume the other person is like and what we assume their life to be like. We all do it. Even me. Please tell me that I am not the only one.
We spend a lot of time seeing what we think other people’s lives are like. Some of what we think may be accurate, some of it may not be. That she is a fast runner, has the perfect family, always looks flawless, plans amazing parties… whatever it may be. Even if you don’t get down on yourself in seeing these things, these crafted images plant a seed in our minds and perception of what ‘normal’ is begins to shift after seeing these images day in and day out. These seeds that play a small part in how we view the world around us.
Even those dang filters on snapchat can change the way we see ourselves and others. I mean, I wouldn’t complain if that beauty filter followed me around all day:)
We put the best version of ourselves out there for people to see (for the most part; there are times we share struggles and the unflattering pictures) but not as often as those that put us in a better light.
A few months ago, I hiked Mt. Timpanogos with Megan and Lindsey. It is about a 15-mile hike with 5,600 ft of climbing in that 7.5 miles up. It is beautiful and challenging. What do you do when you finish something like that (or a hard race, etc?) You take a picture #dug #proof #InstagramItOrItDidn’tHappen.
So, I gave my phone to Lindsey and asked her to take a picture. Remember how I told you I was awkward in pictures, right? Please keep that in mind and proceed with caution and remember… this was with the help of a PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER #FacePalm
Me: I feel weird. What should I be doing with my hands? I am suddenly super aware of my hands.
Lindsey: Do you have a pocket you could put your hands in?
Me: Why yes, I do. Right here in the back of my pants is a tiny pocket for a key. This looks natural, no?
Lindsey: Try looking down and off to the side.
Me: This feels weird. Are people going to wonder why I am not looking at you? And once again. My hands. What should I do with my hands?
Lindsey: Try grabbing your hat and looking to the other side.
Me: Hey yooooooouuuuu guys. I think I am funny.
Lindsey gives me back my phone. I look at the pictures and immediately start to pick myself apart. I think the shirt doesn’t fit well and isn’t flattering and why would I want to post a picture of myself for my friends and family to see if I think I look…. not so great.
I grab my backpack. Pull out my jacket to cover up the shirt that is clinging in all the wrong places. Put my backpack on (yes! this will give my hands something to do!) and ask Lindsey to try again #BlessHerHeartForPuttingUpWithMe
Phew. I like that better.
I enjoy the rest of the hike back down and then when I get home… you know what is next. Filter. caption. Hashtags.
Guess I should have mentioned how many tries it took to get that one picture I posted. People could have seen the effort it took to get a picture was about the same as climbing a mountain. Ha! But instead, I think I am just trying to get a decent picture of myself. One where I look alright (I am just shooting for mediocre here even) so that people don’t pick apart my flaws. The flaws that probably only I see in myself (my friends and family are decent humans after all and I don’t think they would do that). So why do I do that to myself? To be beautiful is not to be accepted by others, but to accept yourself.
I keep thinking about these physical flaws and why we are so consumed by them. Things that are so very common like double chins, zits, the roll of flesh over the pants in my picture. Those things are not flaws or imperfections! They make us human! It is the human condition to wear these things, but it is society that makes us criticize and think less of ourselves for having these human things. It is ME looking at the pictures that were taken and thinking those negative thoughts about myself and choosing to post a picture that covers them up. We become so consumed with changing and perfecting our outward appearance that we forget to turn our gaze inward and work on the flaws we carry in our minds and hearts. Working on loving myself is not easy. Learning that self-care, respect and love are just as important to my health as exercising and eating right.
I have spent so much time in the last 6 years or so hating my body and it hasn’t gotten me anywhere. Hating something doesn’t make you love it. My body is amazing, right now, exactly as it is and so is yours! Mine hiked that mountain! It hiked a mountain every single week this summer with my kids, or friends or husband- even with my ‘flaws’! When I think back to those hikes, I don’t remember what my body looked like, but the experiences I had and the relationships I made with those I was with.
“Navigating life and feeling good in your skin is not easy for any of us, but i think it could be more fun. I think we all could use a lot more compassion and a lot less judgement of ourselves and each other. And maybe we could all engage a sense of curiosity about what beauty is and what it looks like, instead of assuming pre-existing ideas are true” -Tracee Ellis Ross
Now I am not saying that we should all post pictures of ourselves looking our worst. I am not saying that if I take a series of pictures, I won’t ever be posting the one where I feel I look my best. I am saying after the picture has been taken, I will try to look at the picture for what it is- the moment in time that was captured. Nothing more. I will look at the set of pictures and pick one I like instead of seeing flaws; changing, and then taking a new picture. When we are more open, real and vulnerable with each other, that is when we connect with each other and see each other for what we are. Human. All of us. I realize that this world of social media isn’t reality. This is something I will have to make a conscious effort to remember. I will spend more time becoming an observer in the world around me. I am trying to take a step back and widen my view of things. Because what do you actually see around you? Is it perfect? Flawless? Or is it messy and human? Reality is messy, diverse and imperfect. Life is lived in that imperfect.
Who else becomes hyper aware of their arms and hands when the camera comes out?
Tell me one thing you like about yourself. Physical trait or a characteristic trait. Let’s be nice to ourselves for once;)
Do you love hiking? Tell me your favorite hike where you live.
I would love to travel to different destinations and just eat and hike my way through that area. My husband and I did that in Portland and it has probably been my most favorite vacation to date.