Parts of this past week were total sh** and completely out of my control as what at first sounded like a bad possibility turned into reality. My sister was supposed to be on the homestretch of breast cancer treatment and we were all looking forward to her reconstruction surgery this summer to put an end to this chapter, allowing my sister to move on to enjoying life to the fullest. Then, while taking chemo pills (radiation and chemo pills are typical precautionary treatments post mastectomy) my sister’s eyesight began to get blurry. At first we thought she simply had to stop taking the chemo pills and all would be fine, but it turns out that’s not a typical side effect of the chemo pills. It’s a symptom of cancer moving into your eyes. Test results this week confirmed that. Hopefully this cancer can just be blasted out with radiation, but we won’t know until more tests are done to see if the cancer is anywhere else. That’s where my sister and my family are at as I write this…. Anxiously waiting on more tests and praying for the best.
This past week I also listened to what people had to say on the ongoing discussion about social media and the distorted reality of people’s lives that some think it makes. Did I owe it to my followers to let them know I broke down in tears of sadness and anger this week so they don’t think my life is simply about running? (Admittedly, if it wasn’t for some contract obligations, I wouldn’t have posted much at all on social media this week or even most weeks for that matter.) When I click the “follow” button for someone, does that mean they automatically owe me both the good and tough part of their lives just so I don’t think their lives are perfect and get jealous? On the one run I did this week, I started coming up with my answer.
To make this post a little more about running I’ll add why I only did one run this week. Last weekend I ran an ultra and with this week’s news, I had to admit to myself the stress meant I wasn’t recovering as well as normal. Instead of using running as a coping mechanism and dragging out the recovery, I chose walking or other forms of active recovery so I could still move while letting my running muscles heal.
While I ultimately decided to share part of my life on the Trail Sisters platform to help make my point for this article, I don’t think I owe this dose of my reality to anyone except for my close friends and family. I’m comfortable with making that statement because I fully believe no one else I follow on social media owes me their tough moments just because I clicked “follow.” Of course I don’t believe it’s right for anyone to purposely paint a picture of their life that makes their life seem better than it actually is. I heard on the radio last week people actually take pictures in homes nicer than their own and claim it’s where they live. That’s obviously not good! (If you’ve done that I don’t think badly of you, but I do think you’re better than that!) What I’m saying is that I appreciate people sharing a glimpse of their lives with me at all. No one really has to do that. I absolutely love the fact that people take a snapshot of a view or moment in their lives that they think is special and share it with me so I can try to see beauty through someone else’s eyes. In a world where it’s made easy to focus on all that is negative, I suppose I kind of see something like Instagram as a platform for people to focus on the beauty this world has to offer. For that reason, while I am filled with gratitude for people who are willing to share the challenges of their lives, it’s not something I feel like people owe me. If I do get the feeling of jealousy because someone’s life looks so easy and perfect, I realize that’s my issue and my ego trying to play tricks on me.
With all that said, I actually do think we all owe each other a couple of things… Compassion and the understanding that we all face tough moments whether we choose to share them on social media or not.
Life shapes us all different ways. We all know some people that are an open book, while others are extremely private. Many of us are in between. There are reasons behind each way, but all of us will face moments where life will bring us to our knees and those moments will shape us even more, for better or worse. We it owe it to each other to not assume things or if we do assume things we should assume the best of intent. We owe it to each other to keep in mind we all face tough moments. We owe each other space to make mistakes or say silly things because we’ve all had bad days where we weren’t the best versions of ourselves. We don’t owe it to each other to share our worst moments on social media, but we do owe it to each other to see one another with a compassionate heart simply because we know what it’s like to be human. Extending on that, as you head into the office, line up at the start of a race, go grocery shopping, or browse through social media, take a moment to truly look at the people around you and remember we really have no idea what another person’s life is like in that moment.
So whatever you see fit to share with me and others on social media, I thank you for that.