In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m a ‘words’ person.
A great quote will stop me in my tracks; I prefer receiving a thoughtfully crafted note to a gift and unless I’ve written something down, there’s no way on this earth I will remember it. Oh and I’m also a bit of a Scrabble fiend (if I can persuade anyone to play – bearing in mind you’ll probably lose!).
I’ve recently been indulging in a bit of Brené Brown. I know that she’s been around a while now but I never really jumped on that band wagon and certainly couldn’t profess to actually watching any of her TED talks.
In our family, we’ve been exploring what it means to be vulnerable. None of us are particularly good at sharing our thoughts and feelings with others and I happen to know that Brené Brown is a supposed expert in this field. It turns out, that what started as a small piece of research into what makes a person joyful, became a 6 year study in vulnerability and a two year stint in therapy for Brené!
Surprisingly, I’m not actually going to talk about vulnerability today. What I want to share instead, is a quote from one of Brené’s talks; a quote that has stayed with me ever since…
The more I reflect on this statement, the more true it becomes. We’ve gone from a time when eggs for tea were an absolute luxury (World War II era) to feeling sorry for ourselves if we can’t afford to go on an annual summer holiday – something which is now seen as a right rather than a privilege.
What’s happened to our world?
The arrival of social media has meant that our lives are now under scrutiny. With that comes a tendency to compare our somewhat mundane life with the (far more) exciting shiny one that the latest Youtube sensation/next door neighbour/girl we sit across from at school, is sharing on a daily basis.
It doesn’t really matter who it is, if their life looks more interesting, we conclude that our own must be meaningless. If we aren’t saving the world on a daily basis, does our life even have any significance? We wind up dissatisfied with ‘ordinary’ leading us to search out something ‘extraordinary’.
We have almost come to expect it of today’s social media-driven generation, but are us adults really any different? In fact, does this deep sense of dissatisfaction and pressure that our teenagers are buckling under, actually stem from the messages the generation before them is sending out (that’s us parents by the way)?
One thing I’ve been considering over the last week, is how we can effectively communicate satisfaction to our children. How can we counteract the message that social media is screaming at them – an ordinary life equals a meaningless one? How can we convince them that ‘ordinary’ is where it’s at?
What this doesn’t mean.
First of all, this doesn’t mean that we quit making an effort in life. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having ambition, drive and determination to better yourself. I truly believe in a creator God who made us humans to work hard and to get some satisfaction and pleasure out of achieving. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
It’s when achieving becomes a need, an addiction even, that we are robbed of the joy that just ‘being’ can bring.
What can we do to change this?
Remember that I said a thought-provoking quote will often stop me in my tracks? Well what I should have done was listen to the rest of Brené’s talk so that I could provide you with a well researched expert’s opinion. Instead, I let my own thoughts ruminate meaning that this is more of a brain dump than anything else, but here goes…
My first thought was that we need to go back to basics and if that means coming off social media altogether allowing ourselves to enjoy life without the added complication of looking to the left and right, then so be it. But I’m not convinced that is a good answer. Yes if it causes stress and is constantly making you feel unfulfilled, then step away for a while, but social media is here to stay and the next generation actually really need to learn how best to navigate it. Who will they learn from if it’s not those who go before them?
Recently, I’ve been obsessively questioning what I’m posting on social media and here on the blog: Why would anyone want to read it? What’s exciting about my life to warrant anyone clicking on the link I’ve just shared on Twitter? In a nutshell, even I as a 40-something adult am being swayed by this culture that ordinary is meaningless.
Ordinary is refreshing.
But what I am learning, is that people actually find reading about an ordinary life, quite refreshing. I have had various comments on here (thank you to anyone who responded to that blog post) and text messages from friends, encouraging me to keep writing. People who want more of the ordinary relatable life and less of the sensationalised (possibly exaggerated) life that they will never attain.
So instead of living in fear that our ‘ordinary’ is boring, perhaps we should try counteracting the amazing, exciting lives that so many seem to be living on social media, with real life – sharing the simple every day pleasures that bring us joy.
A good book…sunshine on the face…bluebells on a dog walk…jumping in puddles…clean sheets at the end of a long day. All things that bring a smile to my face (ok perhaps not the jumping in puddles but I enjoy looking at other people’s photographs!). All things that are perfectly achievable for the average 40 (0r 30) -something mum who is trying to make it to the end of the day without losing her rag and living in the hope that one day she might make it to the bottom of the laundry pile.
I follow a few people on social media who I think convey (very well) this simple reminder to embrace the small things. We could all take a leaf out of their very interesting, relatable and highly achievable book. It helps that they take great photographs too!
Clarina’s Contemplations // Wellies on the School Run // Me and Orla // Picture Taker Memory Maker // The Ordinary Lovely // Coffee Work Sleep Repeat // Inside Out and About // The Wood Creek // Meme and Harri
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