My highlight reel is real. It’s just … highlights.
I don’t sportsball, so correct me if I’m wrong, but when the ESPN announcer features the highlights of a sporting event, she or he shows the important parts. Some good. Some bad. All significant to the outcome of the game.
Social media is a highlight reel. Even those who share their low points are only sharing the noteworthy parts. We can’t share our entire lives online, because we are out living.
Recently, I shared images of what appeared to be a fantastic trip. And don’t get me wrong, it was. I flew first class to Miami to visit my brother, sister-in-law and brand new niece. I spent one of my nights in a Miami apartment overlooking the bay. My last day consisted of relaxing under a rented cabana on the shores of South Beach, watching the teal waves crash along the seaweed laden sand.
That was the highlight reel. Now, let me give you just some of the backstory.
It starts with my brother Allen, sister-in-law Kellie, and their daughter, Lola.
After giving birth to her first child, Kellie hadn’t bounced back mentally. In a few conversations with her, she pinged my PPD radar. Her baby was only about 3 weeks old and Kellie sounded a lot like I did when I struggled with postpartum depression. I wanted to see her person to get a better feel for how she was doing, but they live in South Florida and financially, it wasn’t a good idea.
Randomly, I told Allen I wished I could visit and help them. He said “Why don’t you?” I reminded him how much a last minute flight would cost. He suggested I ask our uncle (who is a pilot) for a standby pass. Ordinarily, I would have said no. I hate asking for passes. I’ve done it a time or two over the years, but I just don’t like asking people for things I don’t need. Since this was for a good cause, I reached out to him.
My uncle was so kind as to not only cover the taxes (the only cost associated with the ticket), but he put me on the list for first class. Thanks to the first class ticket, I enjoyed a more comfortable seat, a blanket and two glasses of wine, which helped ease my flight anxiety, all at no cost to me.
While I was technically going down there to help, I assumed my role would be limited to doling out unsolicited advice, oooing and ahhhing over the baby, doing a little housework and cuddling baby Lola so Kellie could sleep. Instead, I took over most of the parenting duties for a couple days. The day after I arrived, Kellie learned she hadn’t delivered all of her placenta (5 weeks earlier) and needed an emergency D&C. After her procedure, she suffered complications that caused her to spend a night in ICU. Though a scary experience, I am grateful to say she bounced back and is on her way to a total recovery, both physically and mentally.
Kellie’s issues completely outweigh my unexpected responsibilities and what I “had” to do was a total joy. I am in no way complaining. I am simply calling attention to the fact that while you may see pictures of my sweet niece on social media, you will not see what was happening behind the scenes. First off, it was not my story to share. Secondly, I still want to post the highlights. What my sister-in-law endured was terrifying and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. However, hospital stay aside, I enjoyed the time with her, my brother and my niece. And that’s what I want to document on social media. It’s okay for me to share the highlights, but I needed to get permission to publish her story, and I’m only sharing it here because it ties in to my point:
It is okay, and sometimes necessary, to share only the highlights.
I know enough people to know that life is hard. It kicks us when we’re down. Sometimes, it feels like things are never going to turn around. I know that no matter how charmed things may seem, life has sucked for you at some point. It’s the nature of life. Literally. No one has it all together. Everyone has struggles.
After Kellie improved, it was time for me to leave. Since I was flying out of Miami, I was able to spend one night with my cousin Alaina who lives in South Beach. Let me tell you, those 24 hours were fan-freaking-tastic. We walked to an outdoor bar for drinks, then grabbed a bottle of wine from her apartment and headed to the hot tub where we laughed and talked for hours. The next day, we walked to the beach after taking a detour to grab a sandwich from my favorite grocery store. I kept telling Alaina how much I needed a day like that. I Instagrammed the hell out of my time there.
What you don’t see on my highlight reel is when I first arrived in Florida our family got some hard news that will require major adjustments and sacrifices for everyone in my house. We are facing some big changes, and my entire family is hurting right now.
The details aren’t for everyone. I don’t want to talk about all of my personal difficulties on Facebook. I need my IRL (in-real-life) friends to get through this struggle. While I am thankful for my Facebook friends, they do not have to be privy to the specifics of what we are enduring.
Some details aren’t for social media, and that’s okay.
Please don’t feel pressured to share something you aren’t comfortable sharing because the internet keeps raging about the social media highlight reel.
All you need to do is know my highlight reel is simply my highlight reel. You see what I want to share. It may seem awesome when in totality is riddled with stress. I might post an amazing or hilarious moment, or even a genuine sad moment, whatever I share is true, but incomplete. Don’t let mine or anyone else’s highlight reel make you feel bad about your life, and don’t stop sharing your highlights with me!
Just remember, no matter what you think of someone’s status update, it will never be the whole story.
*Author’s note: there must be something in the water, or maybe we’re all just in the same stage in life, because in the last few weeks, NOMB has published three posts on this very topic. If the highlight reel talk resonates with you, be sure to check out: