Have you ever thought about the pictures that never make it onto Facebook or Instagram? You know, the pictures that never get taken or are so horribly ugly that they would NEVER be posted. It seems we use the Internet only to broadcast our cool or funny or beautiful moments. But the awkward, the disappointing and the embarrassing- those moments are rarely captured on film and if they are, they are usually quickly deleted.
But what if they weren’t?
What if we took pictures of our failures and let the whole world see how pathetic we can be at times?
Wouldn’t that be kind of awesome? I mean really, wouldn’t it be rad to see people as they truly are and not just as they present themselves to be? Maybe rad is not the right word. Especially when I think about my own failures being broadcasted.
Those might be more accurate descriptions when I really think about it. But sometimes my failures are pretty freaking funny. Especially when it comes to jumping pictures…
It needs to be said that for every picture I post of myself high in the air, looking athletic and awesome, there are 19 more of me looking terribly uncoordinated and ridiculously awkward. But those pictures don’t make it onto Instagram or Facebook. Why not? Because I’m like everyone else and I use the Internet to try to make people think I’m cool. So I usually laugh at the pictures of my awkward arms or unintentional double chins or exposed fat rolls, but I never post them.
Yep, you’re in for a treat, folks. You’re about to witness some pretty epic fails at my attempts to “look awesome” this summer.
Let’s begin in Costa Rica.
My friend Katie, sister-in-law Teri, and I all brought neon orange shirts on the trip (naturally), so we wore them on the same day because we’re cool like that. When our bus was delayed, we decided to take a jumping picture in the middle of the road, which led to lots of confused looks from the locals and this semi-okay pic:
Sure, I wish I had done something cooler with my arms and legs, but Katie and Teri look pretty great. It certainly isn’t the best pic, and I would have done at least 37 more jumps to get it just right, but our bus was ready to leave so we had to call it quits and make do with this one.
Though we didn’t get the perfect picture I wanted, we may have gotten something even better: a bunch of TERRIBLE pictures. Like reeeeeally terrible.
Don’t believe me?
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:
Yes, I realize how massive my thighs are. No, I was not attempting the gangnam style dance. And yes, I did tell Teri I was embarrassed to be seen with her in those hideous sandals.
because apparently we stomp on bugs like it’s nobody’s business.
You think my arm looks awkward here? Just you wait… And yeah, I realize Heidi and Emma still look pretty awesome, but at least Teri joined me in the awkwardness.
I wanted to try out the “pencil jump” picture I had seen on Instagram, so I forced all the girl cousins (minus Bekah who had to leave early to do gymnastics on a horse and Jamie who was breast-feeding her baby and thought that would make for unnecessary awkwardness if they joined the picture) out onto the dock for a jumping session:
Pretty cool, right?
What this picture doesn’t show is all of our pit stains because after jumping so many times, we all worked up quite a sweat. In the middle of our 24 jump photo-shoot, one of my cousins remarked, “Katie I’ve seen lots of your jumping pictures and never realized how much work goes into them.” That’s because I typically delete the fails like these:
Teri got up but the rest of us remained glued to the dock with pained smiles.
Kristen DeBie finally got up but Kristen Paulson and I struggled.
I know what you must be thinking. “How can Heidi and Katie be sisters and have such different calf sizes?” I’m as confused by that as you are.
The next day I recruited my dad to be the photographer and forced my triplet cousins and their friend to try out the pencil jump with me and Jenise. We may look a little odd, but I chalked this one up to a success:
However, it turns out 16 year old boys struggle with jumping pictures too.
Oh guys, I wish that was the worst one.
but it wasn’t easy.
Before I show you these final failed pics, I need to explain a few things. First, I was trying really hard not to flash the camera with my bathing suit bottoms because I wanted to post a successful jumping picture on Instagram. I let students follow me and there is something horribly creepy and wrong about seeing your History teacher in her bathing suit.
Second, I have no idea why my face and my arms and my legs did what they did. After nearly every jump, my dad would look at the picture and laugh, so I knew it was awful and wouldn’t even ask to see it. I’d just say, “Again” and picture myself as Sonora, blind yet determined to jump on the circling horse, or in this case get the perfect jumping picture. (If you didn’t understand that reference, you’re probably not a white girl born in the early 80’s or you just weren’t into Great Depression era movies.)
Third, my cousin Jenise still managed to look pretty glamorous in these failed attempts while I was struggling to look human. I’m trying not to hate her for this.
Okay, I think you’re ready. Here is failure at its finest:
And finally, here is the worst, or should I say the best, jumping pic from the summer:
I know, okay. I know.
After continually rejecting my dad’s pictures, he finally asked, “Okay, so what’s the end game here?” and I explained, “We both need to be at the peak of our jump and looking awesome.”
In my attempt to jump high and “look awesome” I managed to look utterly ridiculous. But no one ever saw my ridiculousness (until now) because I only posted the awesome picture.
If you’re anything like me, you would only post the awesome one too. And you probably only post pictures taken from flattering angles with flattering light, and choose to discard the ones that highlight your adult acne and food babies. Most likely you too choose to show the best version of yourself and try to hide or delete your failed attempts at looking cool.
I highly suspect that I am not alone in my secret desire for people to think that I’m happy and laughing and “looking awesome” all the time. But truth be told, I’m not.
And I’m guessing you’re not either.
Because sometimes life is hard and frustrating and disappointing. Sometimes we get bored or sad or lonely. We get in bad moods, curse at bad traffic and have bad hair days. But we don’t publicize this to the world. And I’m not saying we should. Instagram would turn to Insta-depressing if people posted pictures of themselves at their worst.
But all these failed jumping pictures made me realize I still care way too much about “looking awesome.” I wish others’ opinions of me didn’t matter as much as I still let them. I know in my head that God’s opinion counts the most, but my heart still really wants those around me to praise me and think I’m cool.
So every single day I need to be reminded who I belong to and who I am living to please. Because every single day I forget.
For the past few months part of my morning prayer has been this: “You call me your beloved and I am yours. Help me remember that today. Show me how I am grieving your Spirit and if I’m searching for identity outside of being yours.”
I can’t tell you how much this has helped and how much this has changed my quest to “look awesome.” Sure, I still have that desire to be known and be liked. Who doesn’t? But winning other’s approval is less of a priority than it used to be. As I grow in my knowledge of God and His love for me, I’m caring more and more about His opinion and less and less about the opinions of others.
And you know what’s kinda great? God thinks I’m awesome no matter how cool I look or how many “likes” I get. And in the end, that is really all that matters.