I didn’t realise I was bound but I was.
Maybe even there are parts of me that still am—mostly only the parts that are human.
It was Instagram. It’s tentacles wrapped slowly, silently around the deepest recesses of my heart and taunted me.
I was bound by the need to please and the need for perfection and the need to stand out, and all of these needs were like ropes wrapped around and around me so tight that I was often immobilised from any performance anyway.
I wanted likes and I wanted followers and I wanted engagement and what that really meant was that I was looking for value and looking to be noticed—in the wrong place of course.
And when we’re bound tight by those wants and needs, we often find ourselves in places of comparison and competition.
When I started looking at numbers I was caught up in an inner tornado that swirled around pushing, proving, hustling, comparing, competing.
I’d look at other writers and lament my lack of ability to string words together the way they did.
I’d watch ‘influencers’ and their beautiful portraits, taken by amazing photographers, wearing outfits that looked effortlessly chic.
I’d browse the galleries of wedding and family photographers with hundreds of thousands of followers, trying to pinpoint the thing that I could glean to grow my client base that big, earn that much.
I felt the pressure to reveal my vulnerabilities, overshare my struggles (because that gains likes like nobody’s business).
But pangs of envy didn’t sit well with my soul and I knew I needed something to shift.
”… we no longer find a sense of self through the art of living. Instead, we find a sense of self through performance. We no longer live; we act. We have all become actors in the movies of our lives.”*
I didn’t want to be an actor anymore.
So I began to place boundaries.
Because freedom often comes from setting parameters.
Freedom comes when we can limit, refrain, and control.
Freedom is not always a wide open ‘yes’, but a gentle, soul-caring ‘no’.
I’ve become invested in the idea that what is invisible is the most important work.
That what isn’t seen—the disciplines I impose, the goals I strive towards; the early morning runs along the coast without my phone, the hours spent reading a novel without a curated photo of it, the time spent laying in bed with my kids and tucking them in long and tight with prayers and chats—this is the important stuff.
Character over performance.
Obscurity over fame.
Books over social media.
Purpose over platform.
It’s not always easy, in a culture that elevates performance, ‘influence’ and notoriety.
We are all desperate to be seen and known, but lately I’ve been reading the gospel of Matthew and we can be comforted that as Jesus calls us disciples He sees, and He knows us.
As he was walking by the shore of Lake Galilee, Jesus noticed two fishermen who were brothers. One was named Simon (later called Peter), and the other was Andrew, his brother. Watching as they were casting their nets into the water, Jesus called out to them and said, “Come and follow me…
He notices you my friend, and regardless of your performance, he still calls to you, “come and follow, come and walk with me”
* Mark Sayers book The Vertical Self is cultural commentary + self discovery GOLD.