If you watched my Instagram story over the weekend, you would have seen pictures like these:
At first glance, it looks like two ladies who’ve been close friends for years, enjoying a girl’s weekend with no cares in the world. Except, it wasn’t that. It wasn’t that at all. It was actually the first time we had spent an extended amount of time together. We hadn’t been BFF’s for years although you wouldn’t know that by the photos you would have seen online. It was the first time we really had time to actually hang out and not just work together. It was really the first time we got to know each other without our husbands or others around.
I’m sure we can all agree that social media shows the world what we want it to see but I think to some degree it gives us a tool to lie to the world–about our life, our friendships, our happiness, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, the weekend in North Carolina was absolutely fantastic overall. We had some incredible conversations, prayed together, shopped around Charlotte and adventured through Asheville together. And of course, much of it hit our insta-stories. 😉
By watching those stories, you’d see that we went to the farmers market, that we had a delicious dinner at the most blogger-esque restaurant, attempted to hike (this kind of failed), and road tripped with the music blaring and windows down…just like all the best girlfriends do, right?
But what couldn’t you see? What broken and unspoken parts of the story could Instagram not accurately capture? You’d only know if I told you. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do because I know stories can be deceiving and leave out some of the most important details. We see stories and accept them as truth all the while forgetting what really went into producing such stories…the video we redid three times before posting, and the scenes we set up to get the exact photo we had in mind…all the awkward stares we got from old people as we took photos of every meal at every restaurant (does anyone know why this has become such a trend?).
And maybe you’re peeking into the story of the girls that left you out or the group you wish you were a part of and what you see on the surface makes you feel even more alone. Maybe you’ve wondered how everyone else seems to have such fabulous friendships and why you’re still standing on the sideline watching everyone else’s friendship flourish.
So I’m here to tell you the story behind the story…the real story…the real story of what actually happens between girlfriends, no matter how close they are or how instagrammable their lives are.
Like I said, it was really the first time I had spent time with Kelsey. I didn’t know much about her on a deeper level, other than that she also loved Jesus, killed the photography game, had an adventurous spirit, got married just four weeks before me, and has a really cute puppy. So when we flew to North Carolina to work on a photography project together and then made plans to spend the weekend there, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
And the truth is, I spent most of the weekend comparing myself to her. She had better outfits than I did, I thought. Her hair looked prettier. Even her 5 am early morning flight look trumped my sleepy eyes and old t shirt. It secretly drove me nuts. I mean, we all have a little green monster inside of us that secretly wants to be the prettier friend, the more successful mom, etc. Of course we’d never say that outloud but isn’t that essentially what comparison does? It brings to our attention that someone is seemingly ‘better’ than us or ‘ahead of us’ in some ways. It reminds us of all the ways we may not be as good as someone else…at style, at business, at writing, at parenting, etc. And while we all hate it, quieting that little green monster once and for all can be harder than we tend to anticipate.
I had wasted most of my energy all weekend obsessing over the fact that the girl just knew how to put together the perfect casual but cute outfit every. single. day. Then there I was, rummaging through my suitcase, tossing socks and underwear, just trying to find something. Toward the end of day two, I just accepted the fact that she was going to look better so I might as well give up.
On the last day, we shopped around Asheville and stumbled upon a tiny boutique called, Charmed. I remember a thought passed through my mind as I browsed, “What would Kelsey wear? She always looks so cute…” I began searching for earthy tones and cool boho outfits…just like she would. Pathetic, I know.
An aqua blue romper with ruffles immediately caught my eye. “This is SO me!” I said, picking it up off the rack and looking at the tag. The brand? Very J. (People call me J all the time so you can imagine where this is going…)
I couldn’t hide my excitement. It was as in that moment, seeing it dared me to focus on who God made ME, not someone else. It dared me to stay true to myself. It wasn’t called very Kelsey. It was called Very J. It was my kind of style that reflects my kind of heart.
Hmm, coincidence? I think not.
“I have to try it on!” I squealed.
A perfect fit! And only $22! I snapped this photo, sent it to my husband, and bought it without a second thought.
It was the first time all weekend I finally felt good in what I was wearing and I couldn’t help but change into it immediately.
“Well, now I feel self conscious!” She said as I made the purchase.
“You? You feel self-conscious?” I said, hardly able to believe what I had just heard, “Why?’
She admitted to feeling the same–even expressing the fact that she went shopping before the trip, ” I asked my husband if I could go shopping before we came because I knew I was going with you and you always have such cute dresses!”
My jaw dropped at the fact that she had felt the same pit of insecurity I’d secretly carried the 48 hours before. I expressed my shock and admitted that I had been doing the same.
Seriously?! She asked, both of us trying not to laugh at the madness.
And then all tension broke and we hugged and the atmosphere shifted. It’s like the courage to be transparent for .02 seconds shattered the invisible boxes we had been trapped inside of.
Maybe you’ve done the same thing. Maybe you’ve been stuck in the same glass box…not really living but constantly comparing. Maybe you’ve spent more time comparing yourself to your friends instead of living in real community with them. But God showed me something this weekend and it’s this: Comparison is illusive. The math just doesn’t work. Because if I’m comparing myself to her, whether it’s her personality, job, talents, or shoes; chances are she’s probably comparing herself to me. And if you think about it for a second, the comparison on both sides basically cancels itself out. It equates to zero. It just doesn’t hold any value. The only value it has, all that its worth, is the amount someone is willing to pay for it.
So the question is: why do we give it so much value? Why are we so willing to pay for it by offering so much of our time and joy and resources to feed it? Why do we sacrifice our friendships and genuine conversations trying to keep up with it? Why do we waste so much time trying to solve it anyway? That’s not freedom. That’s self-imposed bondage that closes us inside an imaginary box. It limits us to a story. It drives us to pretend we have the perfect life when we know that’s a lie. And we begin to believe those glass walls actually exist.
But those things that divide us hold no value. Social media and stories and even the assumptions we make in person? They’re illusive. They have no power. We give them power when we don’t stand up and speak out through them.
So reach your hand out across the plane and be real and honest. Transparency shatters the box. Courage shatters the box. The power of God in you breaks through the moment you set your pride aside and say, “Hey girl, me too.”Click To Tweet