ihor-malytskyi-204553Have you ever seen those people on Instagram whose lives seem flawless, incredible travel destinations and the kind of daily life everyone hopes for? Of course you have, after all, social media is a breeding ground for high expectations and beauty on a whole new level.

But have you ever thought about everything that people don’t share on social media?

Trust me, I have. Growing up in a digital age where everything we do needs a picture or ends up online somewhere, I think it’s easy to lose track of living our own lives when we’re so busy focusing and comparing ourselves to others. I think we forget that things aren’t so cut and dry, they never have been.

We need to take a moment before judging to take a look behind the curtain.

That girl who just posted a picture with her family, all home for the holidays, as everyone smiles real big and pulls each other close… This is the first time they’ve all been smiling in the same space together in the last five years.

That boy who just tweeted about having the time of his life at the music concert of the year… He spent the last four months working overtime at three different jobs to pay for something other than his own school fees and housing. That was a gift from his boss.

pawel-janiak-312458Those adults you see, graduating, living, taking their first steps into the real world, excited to see what change they are capable of making in the next leg of their journey… Each and every one of them feels a little bit behind, worried about not finding a job, as they question whether they’re going to be secure in the future they’re heading towards.

Three job applications a day; two backup career paths lined up; one more cup of coffee with a side of optimism to keep them going.

These are the things you’re never going to see in a 280 character tweet, a beautiful instagram post, or a facebook check-in.

This is what people never tell you.

And I think we’ve strayed from this idea: that of being authentic.

I’m not saying that whenever I ring someone up at the University Store and tell them to have a good day, they need to mean it 100% when they say it back with a smile on their way out the door. People don’t need to air their dirty laundry online or talk about things they don’t want to talk about.

What I am saying is that if there are people in our lives that deserve to know we love them, or things we want to do, or a different kind of life we want to live, then why are we holding back? If someone wants to hide behind their curtain, if it’s better for them that way, then let them. But if you don’t want to automatically responddaniel-cheung-109141 “good, and yours?” when someone asks you how your day is, or dress up for a picture instead of dress down in sweatpants and be just fine, then by all means, live your life.

If you’re great, that’s fantastic. If you’re struggling, that is okay too.

Let yourself be authentic.

Because I feel like people hold themselves back too much, with friends or family or themselves. While there is a time and a place for everything, I do understand that, I think that with the right people in your life you shouldn’t have to feel the need to be anyone but yourself.

With the holiday season here and Thanksgiving only a week away, it’s a time to not only stop and think about those who have less than we do, but also to simply appreciate everything in our hands.

The family or the love or the hope or the food. Whatever we’ve got, this time of year is a reminder to appreciate it a little more, to hold on a little tighter as they say. As time goes by, things are going to change, and it’s better to have loved and lost than not at all.

You have to let people in behind that curtain and take time to be appreciative before that time slips away from you.

Preparing to head back home in two days, I think of the time that has passed and all the things that have changed. I haven’t seen half of my best friends since July, and for the other half it’s still been too long. Yet I think of the people I look forward to seeing– the ones I can be completely myself with– and I wonder about the rest of us.

For I hope you have people in your life who allow you to be genuinely yourself.

noah-silliman-407597As much as I have talked about the things in people’s lives that we don’t see, the struggles and the lives they live out of the public eye, it doesn’t mean we can’t all be a little kinder today while acknowledging our lives for what they are. We are flawed, each and every one of us, and we are not always going to know where we’re headed or what we are doing.

But in being unsure, trusting that we are all going the right direction and being thankful for the lessons along the way, one day that curtain is going to close and each one of us will have the people we need on our side of it.

If that’s not enough, I don’t know what is.

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