Photo Credit: kennysarmy, Creative Commons

Photo source: kennysarmy, Creative Commons

I have learned so many things from Instagram. I’ve learned my topknot skills are kind of subpar. I’ve learned my life is lacking in artful ice cream cones and hipster glasses. I think my color story may need work, too.

I know I should be brave about this (because I am a child of God) and kind (because so is everyone else) but it’s hard to remember that when all the other children of God seem to be Instagramming from some kind of minimalist cupcake shop on a beach somewhere.

My life just isn’t going to look like that, no matter how much I practice my whimsical hand-lettering methods.

I’m afraid I won’t ever fit in with the Instagram-perfect crowd.

You know what? I’m probably right. I probably won’t.

That kind of Instagram-fabulousness belongs to someone else’s life. (Or maybe it’s no one’s life. I don’t know for sure. It isn’t what life looks like for anyone I know.)

In “Daring Greatly,” Brene Brown writes: “Fitting in is about… becoming who you need to be in order to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.” Even on social media.

I could learn how to use a fancier camera. I could up my selfie game. I could buy a wide-brimmed felt hat.

But fitting in is hard work, and it feels terrible.

I’m never sure I’m doing it right. And the better you fit in, the more anxious you become—because someone might notice that the image you’re projecting isn’t you at all.

I don’t have time and energy for that. I have kids to raise and exercise to avoid and stories to write. I want to spend my days creating the life and the art that are mine to create, not pretending my reality looks like someone else’s idea of perfect.

Fitting in might seem safe, but belonging feels so much better.

Wherever you go in life—online, offline, or to that elusive cupcake shop—show up as you. Show up with your one beautiful, messy life. That’s how you find your people, the ones you belong to, the ones who belong to you.

They see your reality and they say: Me too. They say: I can relate. They say: I know that story, that’s my story. And you both heave a sigh of relief at having found each other.

The real you, with your real life, is interesting.

You’re nuanced. You’re original. You have your own way of seeing the world, and you don’t fit in someone else’s square-cropped box.

Share that with the world. Because your life—the real one, the one you’re already living—is pretty Instagram-perfect, just as it is.

This blog originally appeared on Storyline and was republished with permission.