Last year, my mother-in-law was taking a picture of Marissa, Sebastian and myself.
We were trying our best to get Sebastian to pose with us and he just wasn’t having it. Marissa was attempting to hold him in her arms and prop him on her lap but nothing any of us could say would get him to stop squirming around (most parents of toddlers I’m sure can relate).
Marissa gave Sebastian the option to stand between us and behind us, arms wrapped around our necks.
That suited Sebastian fine, so that’s where he stood and when the picture was taken, it was great.
Marissa looked great (because when doesn’t she) and Sebastian looked happy as can be.
You would never have known that we’d spent the last five minutes fighting like hell to get him to just pose for the camera.
Highlights are like that.
We tend to forget those things when we’re perusing social media. We see smiling faces, we see fit physiques, we see posts of celebration and we forget, momentarily, that anything difficult happened that brought that post, or that body or that smile to fruition.
In the gym, when we see someone hit a personal best, we lose sight of the fact that the new record came after weeks or months of attempts, bailed lifts, gym related or non-gym related injuries, illness, and more.
With fat loss, every recorded milestone came because of days in a deficit, days in a surplus, days where we gave up and said “F*ck it”, days where we doubted ourselves, days when it all clicked and came together but all that you see in a before and after picture is a high end and a relative low end, with none of the other glimpses in between.
When you see a smiling couple, do you ask: What’s behind that smile?
There are pictures of Marissa and I, really nice pictures where I know (and she knows) where we were, not just on a social or geographic level, but where we were with our marriage or relationship. What fight preceded those smiling faces? What struggle were we trying to overcome? Was it simply a case of: fake it ’til you make it?
As you take your life in scope, and you view social media through the lens of highlights, there’s always a story that’s not being told. There are filters, there is digital manipulation, there is conflict, sadness, failure, depression, anxiety, happiness, joy and grief. They all exist. They all played a part in a more complex puzzle.
So, when you compare yourself against others (as many of us do), remember that the highlights are what draw attention and likes and shares and they are never indicative of the whole story.
Nowadays, when my wife and I smile, for instance, we know our story, we know the days of happiness, the days of sorrow, the days of loss, and the days of celebration. The whole story is there and the smiles capture one solitary moment.
Fortunately, our story has earned the right to more highlights.
Which story does your highlight tell?