Instagram, Wanderlust and Breaking Free of Comparison

It’s easier to construct a fake life than to live a real one well.

If we don’t like how we look, or the settings of our daily stories, or the activities we actually do, we can change that – in appearance, at least.

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We can easily build a highlight-reel of a life by a changing profile photo, pretending to know about a place we’ve never traveled to, and showing only the best parts of our real lives.

Social media‘s made it all the more possible to present a facade, a shell of who we really are. All put-together, cleaned up and glossy for others to admire.

“To wish you were someone else is to waste the person you are.”
– Sven Goran Eriksson

It’s not a new problem; it’s as old as the human race.

Why do we do it?

We hide who we really are because we don’t feel good enough, included, or accepted. We feel like we’re missing out.

Many of us are deeply dissatisfied with how our real lives look and where we’re headed. Our lives lack a significant trajectory, which leaves us feeling void of something we know we should have: meaning.

Instagram Compulsion

Pretty Instagram feeds from remote locations catch my attention. Silhouettes against distant sunset skies and figures gazing up at majestic, rugged mountains make me jealous, as if strangers’ adventurous photographs trump the live I’m living.

It’s like I want to forge my own memories of those places and people and experiences I’ve never had. My mind imagines a richer life out beyond my current one.

I don’t know why I feel that compulsion.

I like my life. It’s not boring. It’s a work in progress, though it’s headed in the right direction. But there are still times when I’m restless.

It’s okay to be inspired to live a better story, but it’s not okay to grow envious and discontent because we’re comparing ourselves to others.

Hearing A Voice

Most of us would be lying, though, if we weren’t a little dissatisfied, a little weary of routines and familiarity. Repeating tasks and daily commutes can erode a person, then that wearying voice sets in. It whispers:

Don’t you want something else? Isn’t there more than this? Here, in the boundaries of predictability, you won’t see all the places out there. You won’t be happy with yourself or your life if you don’t go out and do that activity or experience that adventure.

Some days I ignore that voice and continue on the path of hard work in the direction I’m confident I must go. But some days that voice drowns out everything in my head and I feel my legs getting restless, my mouth salivating for spicy foreign cuisine, or a scene of exciting travel flashes across my mind.

Wanderlust is the name of the voice. It is an ally and an enemy, both at once.

Wanderlust is a benefit if it drives you beyond your comfort zone, into places and situations that ultimately push you to grow and change and mature.

Wanderlust is a detriment if it prevents you from living in the moment.

It can rob you of the beauty of now because you’re dreaming of somewhere else.

Don’t let it.

Channel wanderlust to dream of what else you can experience, yes, but also to fully engage in each present moment. Because time is so fleeting, few things last forever, and there is a world to see before the sun dips below the horizon. Pay attention or you’ll miss it.

The Chase

You’ll have to rise above comparison and the expectations of well-intentioned people.

You’ll have to fight the urge to do what everyone else says you should do.

You’ll have to reject comparison to your friends and to strangers on social media who don’t know you, your story, or what God’s called you to achieve.

Your meaning isn’t found only in adventures and accomplishments, but some of the most substantial change and growth you’ll experience will come through those things.

And you’ll grow the most when you’re chasing meaning.

Our meaning will be found only in the God who intersects our weary lives and speaks affirmation, truth and redirection when we’ve lost our way. In knowing Him and walking the path He’s given us, we fulfill what dreamers call destiny, what philosophers call actualization, what Jesus calls abundant life.

If you want to tell a story worth listening to, you’ve got to live like you’re already in one.

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What do you feel compelled to do, adventures to experience? What sort of meaningful endeavors are you motivated to fulfill?

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2 responses to “Instagram, Wanderlust and Breaking Free of Comparison

  1. Good post, John. Reminded me of this quote:

    “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

    ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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