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How to Be Authentic and Find True Friends in a Competitive World

Facebook is a fab outlet to connect with our friends, but it doesn't have to be the barometer of our worthiness anymore. We can live like we were meant to live -- fully, whole-heartedly and authentically. Let someone else keep up with the Joneses, because you're done.
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Friends. We love them. We need them. Who else can we gossip with, drink wine with and compete with on Facebook? Wait, what? That's right, I said it.

We all know the girls who are constantly posting pics -- with location tags -- when they are just about anywhere. I think it would be hilarious if one posted a pic of herself at a fab hotel pool in an attempt to make all of her friends seethe with jealousy, but the location actually shows up as "Hotel Lobby Bathroom." Then, one of said friends of "I post while taking a pee" girl will have to top that post with a picture from some location like Bora Bora, even though everyone just saw her at carpool that morning. I mean, Facebook is a wonderful way to connect and share our lives, but do we really need to share everything? Are you on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the African Serengeti marveling at the beauty of Mother Nature? Great, post it. Did your child just star in the school play? Awesome -- would love to see him perform. Announce that you look amazing after your bikini wax? How is that fact even remotely newsworthy? And how do you want me to respond? "Would love to see a pic?"

I think we've all been guilty of it at some point (excessive posting -- not giving details of our hair removal). So why do we do it? I believe Facebook, Instagram, whatever's next, has become the Underground Railroad for a new generation of 30- and 40-somethings who are scratching, clawing and posting in the hope of validating their lives -- to fill themselves up. Routine becomes our everyday reality and "real life" is just a quest to check all the boxes. Wedding. Check. Fat, yummy baby. Check times two. New Range Rover -- just posted a pic on Facebook -- Check Mate. But with each "check," that little hole in our chest, the one that feels kind of raw and empty, just gets bigger. So then, we try to fit a grander house in there because surely that will fill it, but that hole just gobbles it up and begs for more. And here's the bigger problem -- everyone else is doing it, too. Our friends become our competitors and barometers of how fulfilling our lives must be. We are living examples of a metaphor because we really are trying to keep up with the Joneses -- and the Joneses are our 536 Facebook Friends.

Here's how we can turn down the noise -- or postings -- and start to live our own lives, ones where we are authentic to ourselves and in turn, have our "friends" be just that--friends.

1. It starts with you. You want friends who don't care where you are, what you're wearing and who you're with. But first--you have to not care. Someone's gotta get off the roller coaster first, so it might as well be you. You definitely are amazing all by your lonesome and don't you really want to share that? You want that to be your image, and really, so does everyone else.

2. Think about why you're posting before you post. Have you, your husband, your children achieved something wonderful? That is something you want to share -- that's not screaming for attention but sharing an accomplishment. You can post a picture of a girls' night at dinner, but contemplate why. Are you trying to announce to the world that you are so popular -- look how many friends I have! Are you even trying to remind certain girls that they weren't invited? If so, I promise there will be another posting of the same friends, and it'll be you who's excluded. How would that make you feel? Pretty crappy, right? So don't do it. You're there with your friends because you enjoy their company. They're already with you so you don't need to post it for their sake -- you are posting it for yours.

3. Don't respond to "I post while taking a pee" girl. If we would all stop acknowledging her postings, then she will lose the fodder for which she is really doing it -- attention. Just ignore her, and eventually, she may even stop. When we're posting in an effort to try to validate our lives, we only get that validation when other people actually value what we're trying to portray. Stop and perhaps we can all find really authentic ways to fill up that little emptiness inside.

4. You likely have "trigger friends" -- block their feed for a little while. This is not being catty, scared, embarrassed. This is a way to begin to heal yourself and start a new pattern. Some people look ridiculous with their posts, it's kind of comical, but we're human, and there are legitimately girls who make you kinda jealous. Give yourself a break from them. Remember who you are and what parts you really want to share. Once you do, bring the trigger girls back into the fold, and they likely won't even trigger you anymore. You may even wonder why they did in the first place.

5. Be authentic and authenticity will find you back. Mark Nepo writes, beautifully, that "the flower doesn't dream of the bee. It blossoms and the bee comes." And so it is with life. When we allow ourselves to be real -- when we strip down our armor and show our true selves -- we attract back that same authenticity and beauty. We open ourselves to being found by friends who want to walk this journey with us -- through the good, bad, ugly, fabulous and downright ridiculous. When we find ourselves, the people we have always been looking for find us right back.

You don't have to give up Facebook -- Lord knows I don't want you going through withdrawal on top of everything else -- because in the end, this really isn't about Facebook or social media or even your 536 friends -- this is about you. This is an invitation to dig deep inside to figure out what makes you really feel fulfilled, purposeful and joyous. If you break free from the image you have so desperately been trying to portray -- everyone will actually love you more for it. Facebook is a fab outlet to connect with our friends, but it doesn't have to be the barometer of our worthiness anymore. We can live like we were meant to live -- fully, whole-heartedly and authentically. Let someone else keep up with the Joneses -- you're done.