Life Is Not Instagram

There is no filter.

One thing I consistently tell people is that life is often times out of control.

We think we hold the power. We think we have the ability to make all sorts of decisions and make all sorts of changes.

Until one day, life just happens to us. And then it keeps happening. And then it happens to us again.

The cycle continues until we’re knocked out, laying on the mat, not knowing how we got there.

We often times scramble to our feet in those moments and try to make sense of things, but it doesn’t work.

We’re then left powerless. Just when we thought we were getting our feet under ourselves, life showed us who’s boss, without mercy.

That’s life.

I think platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc — allow us to “doll” things up.

They give us permission to live in a fantasy land, where bad things can’t reach us.

If things are going bad, they let us post a picture of us smiling instead, grasping at another opportunity to go back to our childhood and play pretend.

The problem is that real life will always be waiting for us on the other side.

And contrary to Instagram, real life doesn’t have a filter.

People pass away without notice or warning.

A diagnosis halts our plans and our momentum out of the blue.

A sudden breakup stings our eyes with tears and finds us in the midst of vulnerability, questioning whether or not anyone will ever love us.

Loneliness creeps in, challenging us to find friends while our confidence fades and cannot seem to match the intensity of our desire to not be alone.

We grow up without a parent. We lose a job. We stop working out. We get overwhelmed. We blame ourselves. We hurt too much to finish the job that needs to get done today.

The unforgiving cycle continues.

Life sucks sometimes, man.

Whatever you do, don’t blame yourself

I often tell people that our first action in the midst of suffering has to be not to blame ourselves.

I’d follow that up with, “sometimes life just happens to us”. Being able to remind yourself of this can be crucial in determining whether or not you’re going to wallow in the mess or move forward.

Blaming yourself will set you back days, weeks, months, and maybe even years.

Your ability to bounce back from a trial will be lessened because your focus will be all about critiquing yourself.

I don’t even care if your current situation in life is mostly your fault. Blaming yourself will make it worse.

It eventually leads to constant criticism and if you let life put you in this spot, you’re choosing to be at its mercy.

A lot of the time these situations can influence you to take on a victim’s mentality.

A victim mentality is a personality trait that basically influences a person to often view themselves as a victim of certain circumstances, even when there is evidence for the contrary.

This brings me to my next point.

There is another thing you should avoid doing at all costs.

Whatever you do, don’t complain

Entitlement breeds complaining. It stems from a place that has us believing we deserve more than we’re getting.

This might be the case, but momma always said: “life ain’t fair”. And you know what? Momma is right.

Remember, you’re going to get some bad bounces, you’re going to be dealt some bad hands throughout life.

It’s really all about what you do with the hand you are dealt with that matters.

Entitled people tend to not only take on a “victim’s mentality”, they also believe that they often deserve more from life. They are the type of people that tend to believe life owes them something.

Here’s the truth — life doesn’t owe you anything. It won’t cut you any slack, it won’t make excuses for you, and it will kick your ass if you let it.

If you wallow in the corner, crying out about what you deserve rather than what you already have, then you are once again placing yourself at the mercy of life itself.

Recognize that you aren’t in control

One of the biggest fears that people have in life is giving up control.

We have such a difficult time accepting the fact that we don’t control anyone else’s thoughts, opinions, and attitudes.

But the truth is that we will never be able to fully influence the real world around us. There will always be someone or something existing in our world that is trying to hold us down.

Sometimes we’re forced to accept a reality that we don’t want to live in.

Life brings us to this place.

Right when we think we’ve figured it all out, we’re hit with another painful surprise.

Life doesn’t work the same way as our online profile says it does. We use these social media outlets to overcompensate for the imperfections in our own personal lives.

It’s critical that this recognition is not lost on us. We have to be able to separate our reality from our fantasy. Otherwise, we’ll live in denial, something bad will happen, and we won’t be able to overcome it.

If we come to expect that life isn’t easy– that it’s full of imperfections and painful twists and turns– then we carry a positive tool into our every day life.

We carry the ability to be resilient against life’s blunders, failures, and sufferings. We carry a certain recognition and respect for how quickly life can turn on us.

Because sometimes there isn’t a light at the end of this tunnel.

Sometimes you have to sit there and cry it out.

There is no filter available to us. We don’t have the ability to edit our reality. Sometimes we just have to figure out how to deal with it.

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not point fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!”

-Rocky Balboa

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +393,714 people.

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