A Picture Isn’t Always What it Seems

September 20, 2023

Turning 36 has caused me to do a lot of personal reflection. 2022 has been a tough one – dealing with depression, grief, the pandemic and the general ups and downs of life. I always get a bit sad before my birthday, thinking about my parents who are no longer with me. It can be hard to feel joyous when the people who made you aren’t here to celebrate.  

As this past birthday approached, I started looking inward to reflect on previous years. A lot of positive memories came up – spending time with friends and family, delicious cakes, surprises and even cuddling baby goats (it’s real, Google it). You can’t experience true joy without some pain and trauma. The birthday that stuck out the most was my 33rd birthday. The photo below is taken on my birthday, in Disney World, while I experienced a “magical moment” – a server surprised me with this amazing ice cream sundae. Tell me – when you look at this photo – what do you see?

Happiness? Joy? Pleasure?

What I see is sadness, inauthenticity and pain. Before this photo was taken, I had been crying for a good hour – unsure what was causing it but no matter how hard I tried, the tears would not stop. I think it was mostly due to a disconnect with my current partner (to be honest, a MAJOR red flag that I was ignoring) and missing my parents. I look back now and realize I was crying because I knew something in my life was missing; something wasn’t right. It is easy for me to now see I wasn’t living my true, authentic self. IMPORTANT REMINDER: a photo is just a quick snapshot of someone’s life. It does not – and will never – tell the full story of their life or that specific moment. Your journey is never going to look like another person’s and that is okay. Show yourself some compassion. Feel the feelings that come up when you see that photo and then let it go. 

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