Recently on my social media channels I let you all in on a little secret. The interesting thing is, it wasn’t really a “secret” at all. I announced on my two-year anniversary that I was in a relationship with my amazing partner. I’m sure that shocked some, and probably evoked feelings in others, too. The question is…why? As an influencer, I understand the value and power of social media. But that power doesn’t lie within the masses. It is inherent to each of us. Let’s talk about it.
Rewards and Consequences of Sharing
“Pics or it didn’t happen.” That’s a phrase used years ago to convince audiences of the validity of an experience. In other words, if it REALLY happened, someone needs to present visual proof before it is to be believed. Today, we may as well replace “pics” with “IG” or any other social media platform where people keep up with the goings-on of celebrities or their favorite follows. Social media has become an all-knowing affirmation machine that determines what people should trust. And, if the internet doesn’t know of something, it is either irrelevant or false. How did it get this way? Honestly, we fed and created it.
Social media allows us all a platform to display or grandstand aspects of our lives. As a society, we are quick to show off the shiny new product, experience, or happening that we’re excited about. The problem is, we generally don’t allow those things to grow roots within our real lives before presenting them to friends and strangers alike on the internet. I learned early on that there are rewards and consequences associated with oversharing and not sharing at all. Taking people along on a fitness journey? That can be rewarding when others encourage and root you on. Sharing a new relationship? That’s a little trickier.
Years ago, I made a point not to share about a new relationship, and I’m glad I did. It only lasted several months. I didn’t have to go through a public breakup or deal with questions and comments from strangers. I got through it privately with friends, family and therapists. And, I was able to move on to what I now have: a stronger, tested, deeply-rooted connection with my present partner. He, my family and I are much better because of it.
Is Validation Valuable?
When it comes to sharing, I completely get why some people have the urge to share what’s going on in their lives. Maybe they’re extremely proud of whatever it is. It may very well be exciting! And let’s be honest: it’s so easy to get FOMO when you’re not a part of the social sharing machine. Even the most private people sometimes feel compelled to share a part of themselves without realizing they’re sharing information with familiars and strangers. And, people rarely consider the fact that whoever has the information will always have access.
I had to consider two things for myself–and you will, also. First, never forget that the internet is forever. What you put online, for better or worse, you can never get back. You will never be able to control who sees and knows; neither will you be able to control what they do with it. When you post on social media, you give strangers access to personal and private business. Next, I had to decide if I was willing to deal with any fallout from what I shared online. You should ask yourself: is validation from known and unknown followers valuable, even if it doesn’t turn out well or could be harmful emotionally or mentally?
For me, I made a choice to invest in my relationship privately. I wanted to test all waters, learn and grow with him and our families outside of the public eye. It was important that we were both sure what we developed was healthy for the lives we live outside of the internet. Our families met, our children got to know each other, and we cultivated our feelings for each other. It was all amazing. We have roots in each other and the people that I consider my support. THAT validation is always worth it, much more than anything on social media. Our relationships, and the ones that nurture us, will always stand the test of time.
Put Power Into Life Experiences
I will never be able to tell you what you should or shouldn’t share on social media. What I can tell you, though, is there’s danger in having a strong desire to seek absolute validation from external (unknown) sources when sharing personal things online. Learn to live your life for yourself, not for others. Finding joy, peace and contentment in your everyday life should never be contingent on how many people “like” what’s going on in your world.
When you learn to appreciate being fully present and in the moment, I believe the desire to share so much on the internet for validation from others will decrease. Know this: your life experiences are special because they happened, not because someone responds to them. They will never be less precious because you didn’t share them with the internet. Likewise, they won’t be more valuable if you do. Who you are and what you value are so much more priceless than any person’s opinion or witness.
So no, I didn’t share a “secret” about my relationship. I simply chose to open up about a facet of my life that was my prerogative to share with the world. Every similar decision I make moving forward will be solely for me to decide. That’s the power I’ve taken back for myself.
And you can, too!