No, the grass is not always greener

Written by Diane on. Posted in on life in France

The grass is not always greener

Have you ever scrolled through your social media feeds, flipped through the pages of a magazine or read a blog post that has made you think, “Wow, do they have it good. I wish I was there doing that!” If you’re human, the answer is an overwhelming yes because we’re bombarded with perfectly curated lives on blogs and through social media. All of this can make us think that our life circumstances can’t compare and that where we are doing what we’re doing is somehow lesser and not good enough. But that’s not the case at all and the grass is not always greener. Social media has changed how we view ourselves in relation to others and the effects aren’t always positive.

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The grass is not always greener

the grass is not always greener

Recently, Christine of C’est Christine wrote a refreshingly honest post on the topic of authenticity online after receiving an email from a reader who started out her email to Christine with, “You’re living my dream life.” She was taken aback. Christine eloquently writes:

It was flattering, and yet, a bit jarring: am I even living my own dream life? Because, in all seriousness, the life I imagine in my dreams does not involve fluorescent lights and subway rats and forking over most of my paycheck to rent. I live in one of the world’s most expensive cities, a metropolis that’s crowded and cultural, stunning and dirty, the best on a good day and the worst on a bad day. I work in an office that’s housed in an architectural gem with expansive views, but I’m still surrounded by glowing computer screens and HR policies. I trudge in with the morning commuters and rush home on the evening train, working for those two glorious days of freedom (and yet, spend most of my weekend cleaning the bathroom and buying groceries and squeezing in a workout).

She perfectly frames what big city life is like for most of us despite the fact that we’re only getting half the story online. We’re only getting the story the author writes for us and shows us via pictures. It’s a carefully crafted story and we all do it. We post pics of ourselves having fun, going cool places and taking five seconds to ensure our dreamy Instagram snap gets enough likes to make us feel like it was worth the effort.

We have to realize that the small sliver of what we’re seeing online is exactly that — just a small portion of what’s really going on and not the full reality.

There’s no ugly or sad or mad. Who wants to see or read that?

Christine beautifully closes her post with the following:

I guess all I’m trying to say is that romanticizing and idealizing my life (or any other slice of the internet) isn’t going to improve yours: only you can do that, because only you know what what your behind-the-scenes looks like compared to the highlight reel.

So true and beautifully stated.

Sometimes as expats — or those looking to escape their current life/career/family situation — it’s easy to peer into others’ lives and feel a sense of envy or even sadness that you’re not there doing that.

If we’re always looking around for greener grass, we’re completely blind to everything we do have right in front of us.

So how can you stay grounded and not feel like you’re doing it all wrong and missing out on all the good stuff that everyone else seems to be doing?

Keep these points in mind:

No matter where you live and what you’re doing, something else will always look appealing. 

Right now I’d give anything for some froyo. Does that mean I want to move to the US? No. It just means I’m missing a delicious blend of frozen yogurt from Red Mango with dark chocolate and coconut and a few sprinkles. I’ll get over it. Is life in France amazing all the time? No. And neither was life in NYC. Or anywhere. Life is a collection of experiences and hopefully if you do it right, you’ll look back and be happy with your choices and the things you’ve gone through and triumphed over. Go and do what appeals to you and remember you’re never stuck.

Remember that what you see online is what people choose to show you.

Me included. We put our best selves forward online and curate what we want others to see. It’s real but it’s not the full story — and it’s not supposed to be. I try to keep it real around here and show you the good and the bad, but more times than not I show you the fun day trips we take, the pretty pictures and the aspects of France that are positive. No one wants to hear about family issues, illness, personal problems and all the other very real aspects of life but that maybe no one would “like” while scrolling through a Facebook feed. We show others the best.

Do YOU & the hell with the rest.

The grass is NOT always greener somewhere else. It’s just different. And don’t forget the grass is pretty damn green right where you are. On days you forget that, force yourself to look harder. On that note, I really do have to go mow my lawn…

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Comments (16)

  • Michael and Yulia

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    Very true. When you settle down in a place for a time it’s tempting to think about what other people’s lives are like, and social media helps encourage that kind of thinking. My wife and I spent years dreaming about having our own house with a big garden. We love it here, but often yearn to travel elsewhere. Usually a short day trip confirms that we have a pretty interesting life right here at home.
    Michael and Yulia recently posted…From talking to doing: How life at our new home has changed meMy Profile

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Hi Michael and Yulia, thanks for taking the time to comment. I think in a way it’s only natural to wonder what else is out there and to want to see it all and for it to be motivating and inspiring but sometimes social media can go the other direction and leave us feeling “less than.” But so glad you’ve been able to see how interesting things are right where you are 😉 Agree!

      Reply

  • Cynthia

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    This is very well written and so very true Diane ! It’s easy for some people to get caught up in the idea of living elsewhere. Many people see everything on line as perfect. They create a romantic fantasy in their mind. They become bitter and unhappy about their own life. Living in the here and now wherever you are is most important ! Whatever is inside of us we take with us wherever we go !

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Thank you for checking out the post! You’re so right! Have a wonderful weekend!

      Reply

  • Rayni

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    Totally! I have a dear friend who lives in a large city in France and people think she’s “living the dream” when in reality she is exhausted with full time working, commuting, being a wife and mom on top of it, errands, groceries, cleaning etc, etc. Just like everyone else! She barely has time to enjoy the city, and doesn’t get to go out much because she is on a tight budget and everything is so expensive.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Yes, tourist life vs. real life where you have to work, maintain a house, care for your family day in and day out are very different. I think sometimes people back home fail to realize that, especially if they’ve only experienced that place as a tourist. It’s not always easy! ;-( Thanks for stopping by, Rayni!

      Reply

  • Alan

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    Very well said. Yesterday I spent an “exciting and romantic day” in France doing laundry all day to take advantage of the sunny day and the fact we do not have a clothes dryer. On another day it’s a trip to the supermarket by bus. We are better off with being retired and not having the grind of a full-time job so many expats have, but there is all the “logistics” of life you have to do anywhere. Like you said, it’s not an endless vacation. We are living our dream, but it’s a normal life in a different location that we enjoy exploring. “Remember that what you see online is what people choose to show you.” is so true.
    Alan recently posted…Second Renewal of Our Residency Permits (Cartes de Séjour) Part 2My Profile

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    • Diane

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      Thank you! It’s actually how you put it, “a normal life in a different location.” I think that’s hard for people elsewhere to swallow sometimes. Like how can France be “normal?” But when you’re not on vacation, life is indeed very normal!

      Reply

  • Cal-expat

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    so true!
    all our friends are so excited about us spending 2 years in California; yet we never mention “private” stuff, like how expensive everything is around here. or how I almost cried in the supermarket the day after my arrival, spending 2 hours there, trying to guess what brand to choose for each cleaning supplies when nothing sounded familiar, or scouting the whole store for milk before realizing it’s not “UHT” here, and it’s in the fridge 😉
    But then again, yes, even with “les contingences du quotidien”, it sometimes feel like a dream!
    Cal-expat recently posted…Arrivée à Vegas / Arriving in VegasMy Profile

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Yes, I totally understand what you mean. The private stuff doesn’t make the blog or the highlight reel of phone conversations. I’ve had similar frustrations right after arriving with mundane stuff as well and it’s not always easy. But you’re last line is true! The wineries here all within reach are really spectacular and I’m so fortunate to have the experience. Bon week-end !

      Reply

  • MaryZ

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    Yes, I do get depressed looking at facebook posts of my friends out with other friends, at concerts, out dancing, etc. looking like they’re really living life, and I spend most of my time at work or home. I know it’s the story they want to convey, and I post only fun, pretty pics too. Sometimes I still just need to get away from it when it gets me down.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      I completely understand, Mary and the same thing happens to me. Sometimes I just turn it all off too. But then I try to remind myself that everyone has issues and no one/nowhere is perfect and just try to put things in perspective. Not always easy though!

      Reply

  • MaryZ

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    Comparison is the death of joy. – Mark Twain So true.

    Reply

  • Betty Carlson

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    I came over here from #AllAboutFrance and decided to read your most recent post, and couldn’t have found a better one! What you say is so true and blogs are probably the best example.

    I have suffered from “The Grass is Greener” feeling even thinking about other parts of France. (Wouldn’t it be nicer in a big city? Closer to Paris? Nearer to a coast?) Reviving my blog has helped me appreciate my surroundings, but I am aware that I’m mainly showing a picturesque vision of my life here.

    However, writing a blog of modest proportions, I don’t feel like I’m exactly “curating,” but definitely limiting my scope. My blog is public, the only English-speaking blog about my area, I am known in my community, so personally I don’t feel like I can engage in any rants or critical posts. Not that I often feel like writing one, but there are times…
    Betty Carlson recently posted…An emotional visit to Albi, a place that used to be homeMy Profile

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Hi Betty, happy to have you here. 😉 I think there are pros and cons to all areas of France (and anywhere) but I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes I think about what life would be like in a different area but try to appreciate what I have right where I am.
      If you feel like ranting and just want to get things off your chest, you can make a post password protected or private and then invite the people you want to invite, so that way your blog is public but that post is private. Sometimes just writing it out in a vent session feels reallllly good. Thanks again for checking out the post!

      Reply

      • Betty Carlson

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        Thanks for your reply! I knew blog posts could be private, but was not really aware of the “invite people” function. But after 25 years here, I don’t really feel like ranting that much as I said. I have built up some observations, though, that I may publish after I retire!
        Betty Carlson recently posted…An emotional visit to Albi, a place that used to be homeMy Profile

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