I definitely have a love/hate relationship with social media. I think a lot of us do.
On the one hand, I love using social media to connect with friends and family and express myself through writing, art, and photography.
On the other hand, I am certainly aware of the pressure social media can put on us to look perfect and to tailor our media pages to look polished and posh. Social media can make us feel as though we must have everything together and live perfectly beautiful lives all the time, or we are “less than”.
Worse yet, sometimes when we look at social media pictures, we worry that no matter how much we try, we will never look like that, and so we think that our life does not deserve to be highlighted, capture, or showcased—on social media, real life, or anywhere else.
This is definitely the dark side of social media. It can sometimes make us feel that only perfection deserves to be celebrated.
I recently struggled with some of these worries while planning a cross-country road trip with my husband.
I love sharing beautiful, unique, and interesting things on my FB page for my friends and family—including interesting and silly photos of my husband and I. So, it would be totally normal and like me to post pictures of us doing stuff on our cross-country trip.
But posed pictures often make me really nervous. One of the reasons for this is that they often feel unnatural to me. I never know what to do with my hands. I get stage fright. I feel all tense and scrunched up.
I like looking at other people’s pictures. I just don’t like posing for my own very well. (The exception to this is selfies, which have taught me a lot about self-love. You can read about that here.)
On the other hand, some of my discomfort with posed pictures is due to the fact that I have a lot of problems comparing my pictures to other pictures on social media.
I look at professional yoga photos or the pictures of social media darlings, and I feel like in comparison, my pictures often look like those weird pictures from the eighties that people post as a funny meme on FB. (And I grew up in the eighties, so I probably have a lot of those pictures lying around somewhere).
I decided I wanted to honor my natural feelings of discomfort with posed pictures but to get over my socially constructed feelings of not being polished enough.
I figured out a compromise. I really loved being active and often feel comfortable with semi-posed shots that occur while I am engaged in some kind of joyful movement. One of my favorite activities is hula-hooping and hoop dancing.
So, I decided I would hula—hoop across the United states as a way to document my cross-country adventures. (Of course, we took other pictures, too.)
Somewhere in Utah
I loved my hula-hoop, photography adventure project.
The Salt Flats in Utah
I took some great pictures and some not-so-great pictures. (You can see some of my awkward ones at the end).
Very few of my hooping pictures look perfect or very polished
Crater Lake, Oregon
but they sure look like me doing something I love and having a great time.
Smith River, California
Sometimes I look downright graceful
Smith River, California
The Redwoods in California
and sometimes I look pretty awkward—that’s pretty much me: a whole lot of awkward grace.
At a beach somewhere in Oregon
I think that is all of us.
My hula hooping adventure made me reflect on life in general. For a lot of my life, I struggled with acute perfectionism.
I used to feel like I had to be polished, professional, and in control of every situation. My perfectionism pushed me to achieve a lot, but it also often made me miserable. (You can read more about this here.)
Snake River, Idaho
I avoided many wonderful, potentially life-giving activities because I was afraid of looking unpolished, ridiculous, or imperfect in some way.
Bonneville River Basin, Idaho
My hula—hooping adventure reminded me that our purpose in life is never to look perfect and polished at all times. Our purpose is to live our unique, beautiful life in all of its perfect and imperfect moments.
Around Kearney, Nebraska
When we do this, we create a life that is uniquely ours and spectacular in its originality.
That’s when the magic happens.
Somewhere in Nebraska
Photo credits go to my husband, John:
Also, thanks to my FXP Fitness hula hoop that breaks down into segments, so it is easy to transport on trips:
You can read more about this product here.
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Outtakes: Whenever I take hooping pictures, some of them are always poorly conceived or executed. So here’s me, keeping it real:
Lopsided hula hoop–weird hand pose.
Me trying to balance and about to fall over.
This idea was good in theory but just looked really odd in the end.