Real Mom Monday: Authenticity in an Instagram World
Tomorrow night, I'm joining a panel of amazing female business owners, coordinated by the Savoir Agency to chat about authenticity.
If I'm being totally authentic with you, it's quite mind boggling to me that someone would ask me to speak as an "expert" on this topic. While I am now a very open book, share my story kind of gal—this was not my truth for the majority of my life.
As a small town, Southern girl—I was raised in a land where constant smiles are encouraged. In fact, we are pretty much taught that "happy girls", who don't burden others with "sob stories" will go farther in life.
I actually don't disagree with this. Who doesn't love a happy person, right? But a big pretty smile on the outside, masking darkness on the inside, does not a happy person make.
When the symptoms of my Biopolar began to surface (in my late teens), I hid them from everyone—my own mother included. Not because she wouldn't have understood or wanted to help—quite the opposite actually, but because I didn't want to cause her worry. I truly believed it was my issue and no one else should be burdened.
Be happy. Be smiley. Keep it bright and shiny. It was my mantra.
In my mid-twenties, when the highs and lows became almost unbearable, my bright and shiny shell started to crack. At the time, admitting the diagnosis of my mental illness was the biggest tragedy of my life. I labeled myself a failure. Through the fear, I couldn't yet see that owning my illness was actually going to set me free.
If only I could have fast forwarded a decade to my now late-thirties self...
I would have told her that there is nothing more healing than being authentic with yourself and with the ones you love most. I would have told her that naysayers suck and their opinions mean nothing. I would have told her that if you take care of yourself, then you can live quite well with Biopolar—that you can even be a great mom. I would have hugged her and told her to embrace the woman God made, not hide her away. I would have told her that people love you even when you're not always smiling.
Seeing as time travel doesn't exist, this was not my story. Mine was quite messier. It took blowing up a marriage, a substantial stay in a mental institution and a massive life change to get me to where I am today.
Honestly, I needed the extreme shake up to ensure that I would never—EVER go back into my very confining, unhealthy (yet shiny) shell.
Today—I'm living life as a real person, a real wife, a real mom and a real business owner. Like all of us, I'm navigating realness in our not always real "social media" world—one that often screams perfection, one that screams "bright and shiny".
I'm very aware that the person I was before could not have handled the pressure of this publicly perfect world. Not to suggest that I don't occasionally go down the "comparison rabbit hole" when scrolling through my Insta feed. But now, I'm confident enough in my own story. I know that my timeline is my own, no one else's.
Even if I wanted to escape social media, I don't think I could. Instagram specifically is a very big and REAL part of our business. As a dedicated business woman, I can't ignore the value of it as a tool. I would like to think that I am getting it right—trying to find a balance of real life stories and behind the scenes paired with enough pretty pictures to entice a mama to "click" the pic or swipe up to shop the story. I'd like to think that our account is not overly "salesy" or "fake"—but I know I make mistakes EVERYDAY.
I like transparency. I think it connects us in an often disconnected, digital world. I find joy in sharing our story, but with kids, I also understand that there are boundaries. I don't want to overshare, and I don't force pictures on them. If we don't get the shot in 5 minutes or less. Guess what? We don't get the shot. Life and business go on!
For better or for worse, our lives and BURU are very intertwined—it's what works for our family right now. It's what we know.
For me—this is authentic.
This is our life.
This is our story.
Are you struggling to tell your story? Do you feel it has to be "fudged" to live up to today's Instragram standards?
I hear you, and I would love to hear from you.
If you're in the LA area, then I would also love for you to join the conversation tomorrow night (10.24.17) at the Ken Paves Salon in West Hollywood from 7PM-9PM.
If you're not in town, I'll be sharing more details about our conversation and what all the lovely panelists have to teach via Instastories.