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How I'm Learning To Open Up On Social Media

It's both exhilarating and terrifying
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social media opener

When I began blogging nearly a decade ago, social media was barely a "thing." Since then, they've continued to emerge, and with each new addition, I've felt increasing pressure to share more and more. I used to show a very selective, curated view into my life. It looked glossy and perhaps a bit too perfect—but my goal was simply to inspire others, not show the messy/ugly/real world stuff I dealt with like everyone else. And in doing so, I was able to find a balance between my actual life and what I shared on the Internet. I reserved the pretty, aspirational stuff for my followers and anything else was mine. It belonged to my family, friends, and me.

But even in the last six months, there's been a big shift. I don't know whether it's the current political climate or perhaps just the need to see things that are more "real." And I'm all for it. When I'm on social media, I appreciate and respect when people that I follow show their struggles, comedic slip-ups, and failures. Would I prefer to see the glossy cover that Chrissy Teigen is currently gracing or a shot of her and her "stretchies" eating take-out on her sofa? No contest. But coming from a perfectionistic introvert (and yes, that combo is particularly problematic), it's been the biggest hurdle I've faced to date.

I've always been asked about how I balance everything. Since so much of my actual life is tied up in my work, it's truly the best and worst thing. To be able to justify making chocolate chip cookies on a weekday as part of my job is not lost on me. Most mornings I wake up still slightly in shock that I've been able to launch a career out of sharing things that I love. And yet there's also this pressure to be "on" all the time—and it's exhausting. I struggle with how to continue to show the inspiring content as well as the not-so-pretty stuff. I want to pull back the curtains a bit to reveal that I'm just as susceptible to self doubt, parental screw-ups, and fights with my husband, but it's scary and vulnerable. And is it weird to feel like it's also off-brand? Yet anytime I've opened up about certain issues, it's been met with such positive feedback.

I don't often share the times when I have writer's block, am in a rut, or am feeling down. It feels like because those things are internal issues (and my job is to inspire others), I shouldn't be sharing them. And yet that feels isolating and insincere. By only presenting a very curated glimpse of my life, I'm unintentionally setting impractical expectations for others while also not allowing myself to be anything but perfect. And guys—that is a lot of pressure. 

I've gleaned a lot of encouragement and self acceptance from seeing other people share their struggles on social media. I used to think that you fell into one of two camps: You were someone who provided inspiration with little insight into your actual life or were an over-sharer. But the two don't have to be mutually exclusive, and in fact, it's just the opposite. I'm beginning to realize that it's okay to relinquish some control, and that with the good, comes the bad. Yes, there will still be banana pancakes and Santa Monica sunsets (I have no interest in becoming a total Debbie Downer here!), though I can assure you that I'll continue to work up the courage to show the other side of me as well. Whether that's in the form of my own "stretchies" or simply showing more of the things that affect me, I hope it'll help break down the stigma that everything you see on the internet is an accurate portrayal of someone's real life.

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