Ok, so things don't often get very personal over here on Taste & See. In fact, I prefer that this space be one where I can share knowledge, tips, and recipes with others without divulging too much about my personal life and emotions. Today's post was just going to be one with a delicious new recipe that I absolutely love, but whilst I was putting the post together I had something on my heart that I felt the need to share, something that is relevant to SO many of us.
Instagram vs. Reality
Instagram and social media as a whole can be amazing. Through my blog and its social media pages, I have had the amazing opportunity to meet new and interesting people (both in person and through online communication) that have inspired me, encouraged me, and supported the work that I share. Social media has allowed me to reach brands, businesses, and individuals that I otherwise would never have connected with, and has supported my education in the field of nutrition through the exposure of many inspiring expert practitioners, researchers, and game-changers in the field. On the flip side, Instagram and the Internet has become a place where comparison, insecurity, and feelings of 'not being enough' have had a chance to take root in my heart at times, draining me of inspiration and the ability to share things out of the fear that my work will not be interesting or relevant enough for others to read.
Earlier this week I watched an Instagram story by Anna-Belle (She Said), who gave an honest account of some of the challenges that she has been facing over the past few months that haven't necessarily been evident in her Instagram feed, blog, and online presence. Her raw honesty about her struggles with fear, rejection, and depression was very inspiring, and her desire to remind her followers of the reality that social media isn't always a fair reflection of the personal battles that all of us face got me thinking a bit about my own journey of using Instagram as a space to share my blog and my story. Over the past year and a bit my life has been dotted with moments of great celebration AND times of grief, fear, and difficulties. Taste & See's Instagram feed tends to be a place where I share moments, items, people of great beauty and inspiration, and snippets of truth that I want to share with others. Just like most other Instagram users, it's important to remember that the things that I share make up a very small part of my life - often only the highlight reel.
Over the past two weeks I have been sharing the exciting things that I have experienced whilst moving to a new country, exploring a new city, and starting an exciting new MSc course here in the U.K. But it's important for those of you who have spent time following my journey thus far to know that social media is just a snapshot of a much bigger picture. Behind the scenes, just to share a few examples, there are moments of:
- Fear and anxiety: I have had moments where I have had to deal with a fear of the unknown in this new adventure, anxiety related to having to meet new people and make new friends, and a fear that I may not cope with or be enough for the very intense academic course that I will be completing over the next year.
- Missing family & friends back home (already!): It's only been two weeks since waving goodbye to South Africa, but there have been moments where I have missed family and friends already! This week my husband and I had to face the fact that we won't be able to travel home to South Africa for the wedding of two of our dearest friends, and after a Facetime session with my family during the week I had a good cry because I miss them.
- Feeling 'BLEH': I have had to navigate the healthcare system here in the U.K., and despite the fact that I needed to see a doctor the week that we arrived here I had to wait out a week before I could medical assistance with something that made me seriously unwell and uncomfortable. Needless to say, I have had to deal with feeling 'BLEH' all week long. I haven't been able to exercise comfortably and have needed to rest most of this week, despite wanting to be active and able to be busy busy busy.
Now I'm not sharing this to gain any sympathy, the reason I am doing so is just to highlight that it's important to scroll through your Instagram and Facebook feed knowing that what you see in your newsfeed is most likely not going to be the raw difficulties that others deal with on a daily basis and that there is no reason for you to be comparing your WHOLE life with someone else's highlight reel.
It reminded me how lucky I am to have many different people that I can share things with - both the ugly moments (my struggles, frustrations, and challenges) and the highlight reel (my moments of celebration, beauty, and joy). I realised that instead of struggling with these feelings on my own, the best thing to do would be to talk about them, pray about them, and let them out of my heart. I took a step back from Instagram to spend time in the present, instead of scrolling through my newsfeed. I also took time to make note of all the things that happened during the week worth celebrating - the joyous engagement of a dear friend, a good end to another friend's BIG project, inspiration and encouragement through voicenotes and phone calls from my family and some friends back home, the new people I got to meet and interact with at church and in class this week, and the fact that my husband was able to leave the office earlier than 7pm yesterday allowing us to have a good evening together.
After taking a step back, I realised that it's really fine not to be perfect, not to go outside and exercise if your body needs rest, not to be the best wife and friend ever and not to be ok all of the time. What is important is to do the best you can where you're at and to take comfort knowing that there is a community surrounding you (whether big or small, near or far), to support you, listen to you, and encourage you even when things are a bit overwhelming. On that note, I would like to encourage all you ladies who are reading this to head over to this Instagram page and give it a follow. Whilst you're at it sign up for their newsletter here. Glow is a platform in the making that is going to be launched very soon, put together by two amazing ladies that have a vision for the space to become one with community and support at its core.
Finding Peace in the Midst of Perfection
This turned into quite a hefty blog post, sorry about that :) I just really want to encourage those of you who might be feeling a bit 'imperfect' about your own situation/body/circumstances/health (the list goes on) to take time to work through those feelings by doing some of these things that really help me when I am feeling pretty overwhelmed.
1. 'Switch off' for a bit
Delete the Instagram/Facebook/Twitter apps from your phone for a bit and go offline for a little while. We can sometimes spend hours mindlessly scrolling through our Instagram feed, absorbing snapshots of other people's lives without participating in the here and now.
2. Unfollow if necessary
Clean up your social media feeds and unfollow/unfriend people and accounts that make you feel bad about yourself, whether it be your circumstances, diet, physical appearance, or lifestyle. It's not worth being connected to people and pages that leave you feeling sad, unsatisfied, or bad about yourself.
3. Talk to someone, pray, let it out
As mentioned in the quote by Nutritionsprout, acknowledging what you are feeling and sharing it with people who care about you can be the best medicine (just like drinking a fresh glass of water). Don't harbour things in your heart if they are eating you from the inside out, bring them into the light even if you just sit down and pray about them/say what them out loud/write them down on paper.
4. Practice gratitude
Whether you write it down or say it out loud, practicing gratitude and thanksgiving really can remind us of all the good things that we already have in our own lives, in the lives of people we love, and in our communities. Thanksgiving reminds us of the small blessings that many of us get to wake up with each day, whether it is the ability to walk or even just the warm bed we get to sleep in.
5. Go for a walk or take time to stretch
This seems like a silly one, but for me walking or stretching are two things that help me to change switch off a bit and clear my head when I find myself feeling a bit overwhelmed. They may or may not help you, but I don't see any harm in giving them a try.
6. Celebrate relationships and small victories
Take time to remember the conversations, interactions, and special moments that you have shared with people over the past few weeks. Celebrate those relationships and know that you are loved by those people (I mean why would they want to hang out if they didn't care about you??). Be aware of your own successes, no matter how small, and take time to acknowledge your capacity to love, serve, and contribute in within your sphere of influence.
Recipe Time (finally!!)
Sooooo now it's time for me to share this delicious recipe with you. It is one of my new favourites, a real treat on days when I am craving something filling and slightly sweet. The overnight oats recipe is pretty standard, but salted caramel sauce makes the recipe absolutely amazing.
Total time: 15min
For the Overnight Oats:
- 1/3 cup oats
- 1/2 cup milk of choice
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 Tbsp Greek yoghurt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 apple, grated
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds (optional)
For the Salted Caramel Sauce:
- 1 Tbsp tahini
- 1 Tbsp honey/maple syrup
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 Tbsp warm water
- Crunchy granola
- Pecan nuts
- Toasted pumpkin seeds
- Add all of the ingredients to a large enough jar or bowl. Mix together and place in the fridge overnight.
- In the morning, make the salted caramel sauce by whisking together all the ingredients. Whisk in an extra tablespoon of warm water if you would like a runnier sauce.
- Remove the soaked oats from the fridge and mix everything together again, adding in 1 Tbsp of the salted caramel sauce while you mix.
- Serve the oats with the other half of the salted caramel sauce poured over the top as well as any other extra toppings of your choice. Enjoy!