Yesterday, my husband and I began a road trip to his cousin’s wedding in Virginia. Now, I am not a fan of long car rides… At all. But my older sister wisely advised that I look at this trip as an adventure. So as we set out, I posted a fun little picture to Instagram and Facebook:
I captioned the photo: Essentials of a road trip: Starbucks, Sea Bands, Arcade Fire, funny/handsome fella and most importantly, game face. Let’s do this 💪🏼
But less than 20 minutes later, I was feeling like death. I was extremely carsick and I felt like the coffee I had taken a few sips of was slowly trying to destroy my insides. I thought, “I don’t drink coffee that often and I don’t have much food in my stomach; I’ll feel better after some food and water.” But as the minutes ticked by, I became more and more sick. I recently found out that I am gluten intolerant, so I decided to see if by some strange chance there had been gluten in my beverage. Sure enough, my coffee was labeled online as not being safe for a gluten allergy AND even though I had ordered it with soy milk (I’m also lactose intolerant), it still contained dairy. An iced carmel macchiato was to blame for the agony I was experiencing.
As I sat there in tears, mad at myself for being careless and mad at my digestive system for being my number one enemy, my husband said “Maybe we should just turn around and go home.” I felt awful- Not only was I not a fun road trip companion but now I was going to be responsible for my husband missing his cousin’s wedding.
We decided to keep driving and see how I felt. To sum up the trip, I spent the rest of my time holding a Panera bag in my lap/over my mouth, in case I got sick. It was a glorious view … Looking into the depths of a brown paper bag is probably not how people thought my road trip would go, based on my “cutesy” post.
At one point in Pennsylvania, my nausea subsided enough for me to look up. As we entered this beautiful forest, the left side of the road was overtaken by a gigantic sign that said this was a protected area. I didn’t think anything of it. But my husband quickly put the pieces together: we were near 3 Mile Island, the location of our country’s worst nuclear disaster. This area was dangerous, despite it’s pristine vistas and glorious sunlight. I snapped another picture:
The trees were perfectly lined up, forming a canopy above us as the sunlight shimmered through. I immediately thought how this was a perfect example of looks being deceptive. This forest was majestic and was bordered by a gleaming body of water, yet there were no sprawling houses basking in the golden rays or boats bobbing in the water. From an outside perspective, this made no sense. But with a little bit of background information, thanks to my hubby, I began to understand. And I felt sad.
I thought back to my collage of our “fun” road trip. To anyone who viewed my pictures, it probably looked like I was excited for this journey; who needs the comfort and convenience of a quick plane ride when you can drive for 14 hours? But the truth was, I was dreading the long trip, certain of my impending carsickness. I simply chose to present a much more polished version of my life.
How often we as humans seek to present the most appealing parts of ourselves and hide the ugly, sad and completely raw parts of our lives. I know I have been guilty of it more than just this once! Studies have shown how social media is depressing us, yet we so willingly believe the lie that everyone else has their act together. And then we perpetuate this lie by contributing our own!
I’ve learned through my own journey that people are often craving honesty. They may smile and say life is great, but if you allow yourself to be vulnerable and share your struggles, they quickly let the façade go and with a sigh of relief say, “I’m not the only one.”
I wonder what would happen if more of us decided to be really honest? I’m challenging myself to be more real. I don’t need people to think my life is perfect or that I’ve got it all together. I’d rather be authentic and maybe help someone else along the way see that it’s okay not to be living a fairytale life.
For more information on 3 Mile Island: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/three-mile-islands-residents-remain-on-alert-three-decades-after-nuclear-crisis-/2011/03/18/ABbZsZx_story.html
For more information on social media and depression: http://www.forbes.com/sites/amitchowdhry/2016/04/30/study-links-heavy-facebook-and-social-media-usage-to-depression/#31a3a0627e4b