Pre-parenthood I would have made fun of people for talking about their kids all the time. Or made jokes about the goofy pictures parents posted on social media. And why not? It is pretty common in our culture to complain about social media posts with pictures of your food when you go out to eat with friends. Or pictures of your kids just doing whatever weird things kids do. And even our ridiculous pets.
What it does tell us about our culture is that these are the things that matter to us. The picture of that plate of food is expressing our natural human desire to share a meal with friends, because friends matter. Those pictures of our kids are an expression of our desire to be a part of a family, because families matter. And yes, our ridiculous pets matter!
I withdrew from social media in 2016. No more Facebook. No more Instagram. No more Snapchat and Twitter. I decided to go back to a time where the relationships I had with people happen in real time, unscripted, warts and all. I decided to let people see me as I really am, not how I wanted to be perceived. The unexpected consequence was that it forced me to actually act the way I wanted people to see me.
Just not right away.
Thankfully I had a little time to make improvements to myself before my daughter was born. I am tested often and sometimes I fail those tests, but I make it a point to learn from my mistakes. The things that matter to me today seemed unimportant years ago. I had grand ambitions that were primarily driven by selfish ideas and reinforced by the desire to have others think well of me.
Today I do not worry about what others think of me, and I will never need to worry as long as I know that I am doing the right thing. My grand ambitions now seem like tiny matters, but they are not. I desire to be a great husband. I desire to be a great father. I desire to be a great friend. And when I fall short of these things the people around me let me know because I have a great wife, a great daughter, and great friends. I’ve surround myself with great people, and they help me to be a better person.
Being a good dad is not easy. Being a good husband is not easy. But the things worth doing in life usually aren’t easy. If I make a mistake, I learn from it and try harder. Life takes practice. And if people make fun of me for getting all gooey eyed when I talk about my daughter and pull out my phone to show pictures of the cutest kid in the world I don’t worry about what they think about me. Why should you?