By Rae Broderick, Strala Yoga
Like most everyone, I have an ongoing love/hate relationship with social media. I love to feel connected and up-to-date on the latest health and wellness topics and cute pics of my friends’ kids, but I hate that it sucks up so much of my time.
As someone who works in today’s health and wellness industry, I feel there is no escaping my involvement in some sort of social media presence. Like most, I have Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. They are essential to stay connected and clued in to the environment in which I work and live.
At their best, these public platforms enable us to share our stories, track progress, support one another — and get creative with our kale. I also find a sense of accountability if I participate in, say, a backbend yoga challenge, or commit to drinking green smoothies for the month.
I am not immune to the warm and fuzzy feeling I get when my handstand selfie gets 27 hearts. Who doesn’t like to have their very own cheerleading squad? Nor am I immune to questioning myself when my overnight oats snap doesn’t elicit a single pom-pom shake.
At their worst, social media platforms can be a harsh reminder of the dangers of laying ourselves open to criticism. The anonymity of the medium lays waste to any sense of emotional culpability. People can be cruel.
But what about the persona I am presenting to the world? With the tap of a screen, I can whiten my teeth, crop a body part, add a tan, or make that handstand selfie seem completely effortless.
Many self-proclaimed experts in the health and wellness industry have been outed as presenting an inauthentic persona. It’s a reality that has called into question the lives of many amazing individuals who really are living beautiful, inspiring lives.
As a yoga guide and holistic health coach in-training, I am passionate about leading a healthy and well-informed lifestyle. I care about what food I eat, about how much I'm moving, relaxing, and stimulating my body and brain. I like to nurture positive relationships and say "Sayonara" to the bad ones. I am a Tweeter, an Instagrammer, and a Facebooker. I enjoy sharing my love of elephants, yoga poses, and anecdotes about my crazy dog, Beckett. I like to share my stepdaughter’s important milestones, and the name of books I'm reading. And yes, sometimes I’m just goofball; I recently posted a video of me eating a rice cake solely because it made me laugh ‘til I snorted.
I think I do a fairly good job of putting out “the selfie” I really am in the world. I like to laugh at myself but I also like to learn. I like to connect and expand. Apart from the occasional outer space filter or the brightened plate of steaming greens, what you see is what you get. If you were to meet me after viewing my posts or vice versa, I think you'd be happy to find the same person that sometimes exists behind a X-Pro II filter.
Below, I've outlined a few tips, a guideline I try to reference to ensure the line between Selfie and Self isn’t too blurry.
1. Do and be you. Do you love spiraling your squash and cuddling with your cat? Awesome! Share that. When you're excited and passionate about something, other like-minded people will be excited for you. Remember that it takes all kinds to make a world. Don’t worry. You’ll find your tribe.
2. Use your actual voice. "Talk" like you would in real life. When I lead a yoga class my voice doesn't go from Rae to guru upon entering the studio. Use words, inflections, and figures of speech that are already a part of your every day. Don’t be afraid to sound like you.
3. Stay positive. Don’t hate on yourself. I’ve noticed a trend lately where people will post a deliberately staged “unattractive” selfie. These posts seem just as inauthentic to me as the selfie that’s so polished and Photoshopped it belongs in a catalogue. It’s saying the same thing: “I am not good enough as I am.” You are. Shine.
4. Create a dialogue. If someone asks you a question about your favorite soup or gives you props for nailing your handstand, show them some love. Granted, we can't answer every last inquiry, but try your best to connect with those who make an effort to connect with you. Isn't that why we're all here?
5. Be the only expert on you. It's great to be inspired and uplifted by the work and progress of others, but don't waste your time trying to be someone else. There is no one like you in the entire universe, and that is a very beautiful, special thing. Celebrate your individuality and uniqueness. Try on things for size. Use what works and get rid of the rest. Spend more time getting to know you better. Pave your own way. Show the world your beautiful selfie.
Rae Broderick is a Yoga Guide and Studio Manager at Strala Yoga in Soho, NYC. Rae's yoga practice began in high school with VHS tapes and a borrowed mat. Since then, she has watched her practice grow from an after-school activity to a part of her daily life. She has completed two teacher trainings and has led workshops and classes in New Jersey, NYC and Northern Ireland. Rae holds an M.A in Educational Theatre for Colleges and Communities from New York University and oftentimes performs in plays and teaches theatre to young people. She can be seen next in the independent feature film, Emerald City. She is currently enrolled in the Holistic Health Coach program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Rae is always looking to make her world happier, healthier, and brighter, and hopes to guide others to do the same in whatever way makes them feel amazingly wonderful and beautiful.
Headshot photo credit: Elyza Bleau