The One with Images

It’s been twelve days, and still no cable or internet.

Because I have the attention span of a four-year-old, I’ve been flipping through my old journal while at church.  I sort of love doing this every so often, and I usually find some gems in there.  Yesterday I found a journal entry from a Bible study with some dear Young Life friends, and it was centered around images.  Or more precisely, image management.  It really focused on the idea of images we project into the world, what they say about us, and what they say about God.  Often,  how we see others is a reflection of how we think God sees us.  And it sort of goes both ways.  We work super hard to carefully craft and maintain a given image – whether it’s that of a working professional, or perfect housewife, or easygoing athlete.  We take on personas that appeal to us – we aim to appear like who we want to be.  We spend time on social media maintaining these images, and time clothing ourselves in respective hipster glasses or ugg boots.  We become walking billboards for a certain image – that of a runner, or mom, or academic.  The pressure to maintain a certain image is hard to escape from, if not impossible.

And I’m completely guilty of it.  I’m sitting at a cafe, with my macbook (the universal computer of bloggers) and a re-useable tumbler, suggesting that while I am willing to spend an unreasonable amount of money on technology, I still ‘care’ about the environment.  With these props in front of me, I send a clear message to those who walk by about who I am, while simultaneously isolating myself and making it difficult for a stranger to approach me or get to know me.  Another example?  IMG_1562This photo I posted to instagram last week.  My caption was something to the effect of “the only finished area of the apartment”.  Which is true – the rest of the apartment was a jumble of boxes, those cabinets were empty, and all of the plates were still packed.  But hey, look how cute it is, and gosh, isn’t my life the greatest?  That’s what I projected, whether I meant to or not.  (In my defense, it took me an entire hour to assemble the confusing Ikea rod system, and Joe wouldn’t even help me.  He mentioned something like ‘character building’.  I was darn proud of it when I finally finished the installation.)  So I broadcasted to my fellow instagrammers that my kitchen sink is perfect.  And because they can’t see the rest of the apartment mess, they can infer that the rest of my life is that beautifully organized.  Which is totally and completely false.

I sometimes struggle with this blog and my feelings on image management, because I want to be authentic, and I never want to project of false sense of perfection in my life.  There’s a difficult balance between protecting myself and being an open book.  I don’t always get it right, and I often lean too much on the side of projecting only the pretty images of my life.  What I want to focus on more is sharing the good with the bad, the beauty and the beast.  Because at the end of the day, we’re all just doing our best, and I’m still trying to figure out how to keep plants alive.

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2 thoughts on “The One with Images

  1. This is so beautifully and honestly written. I’ve been thinking a lot about image too–having just moved to a new city, starting grad school in a month, I keep asking myself “who do I want to be?”. This post made me realize that what I’m really asking is “who do I want society to see me as?”, and what I probably SHOULD be asking is “who would God want me to be?”. And while I’m sure God doesn’t really care about the Mac/PC debate, I know I should try to be the best person I can.

    I really relate to your struggle with blogging. It’s so hard to draw the line between overshare and sharing only the “pretty” parts of life. But, like you said, you’re doing your best! And I would say you’re doing a gosh darn good job.

    • Thanks so much for the encouragement! You’re totally right about asking who God intends us to be – I have to consciously remind myself that.

      Also, your blog is really great! I feel like you’re a cross between two of my good friends – one who lives in Portland and the other who was gamma phi beta in South Carolina. Keep taking those gorgeous photos, because beauty in this world is meant to be shared, so long as we don’t confuse it for perfection. And good luck with grad school!

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