Katey in/on the PNW

I know the Pacific Northwest is like, *a thing* now, but after spending the last 10 days or so up in Bellingham, Washington, I fully understand why. It's freaking beautiful. I have never seen so many trees, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and coffee shops in such a condensed area in my entire life. The crisp, overcast 65 degrees (with actual rain sometimes!!!) of Washington was especially wonderful coming from the dry desolation of 90-degree October in California. As a photographer and person who just generally really enjoys nature and rain and adventures, it was a blissful dream. But I realized something while I was up there...

If you don't really know me, if you haven't talked to me lately, or if you only see my life by what I post on social media (especially Instagram), you probably think my life is pretty incredible. Within the past six months, I have been to Cambodia, India, Canada, New York, Texas, Seattle, San Francisco, LA, Disneyland (quite a few times), and countless other random beautiful places and I, of course, have posted lots of photos from all of them. And yeah, that is pretty darn incredible. But guess what? There are parts of my life that you can't see via my Instagram account, and most of those parts are not very incredible.

I graduated from college in May with a degree in cultural anthropology. I moved home, 8 hours away from my friends, and 167 days after graduation (yeah, I counted), I am still unemployed, I still have no idea what I'm doing, and I still hardly even know what I want to do. This post-grad vortex of constant weirdness and subtle chaos has made for a difficult few months. That's why I went to Washington. I ran away to refocus and rejuvenate my weary, discouraged, uninspired heart. Thankfully, God is good and did just that for me while I was there. But while I was in Washington, attempting to do some physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual recovery, I received countless comments both from close friends and complete strangers about how jealous they were of my trip, how lucky I am to travel so much, etc., etc.

I have two things I want to say about all of this:

1. I am lucky! Well, less lucky, more #blessed (but seriously). I get to do a lot of really crazy (in a good way) things and I am very, very grateful for all of the amazing experiences I've had and all of the cool places I've been able to travel to (shoutout to my dad).
2. Social media is not reality. Just because someone posts pretty pictures does not mean that their whole life is pretty. I promise you, it's not. It sounds obvious, but it's so easy to forget with how often we use social media (again, especially Instagram) that even though I just wrote a blog post for Sincerely, Kindred about this very problem, here we are again. People who see my photos see idyllic lakes, cloudy city skylines, or majestic misty mountains. In other words, they see someplace they would rather be than wherever they currently are. Well, me too. Judging by my Instagram photos, you would have no idea that I am struggling, I am lost, I am confused, and I am and lonely. Just like you are.

Now, I don't say these things for a "poor Katey" response. I say them for a moment of vulnerability and perhaps a reality check for some of us. Even if my Instagram looks pretty, my life is still very messy. And that's okay! It's okay to be messy. In fact, it's pretty impossible not to be. So take heart, because absolutely nobody has their crap together. I think Theodore Roosevelt was on to something when he said that "comparison is the thief of joy." As long as we compare ourselves and our lives to others (like we do constantly on social media), we will be perpetually discontent. True joy and real peace are only found in the presence of God and when we derive our worth from Him instead of from Instagram.

Okay, this was really long, but I think that this is important to talk about. It’s the kind of thing that exists in our lives so constantly that we don’t even notice or acknowledge it until it does real damage to our spirits, which I, for one, would like to avoid at all costs. And like I said before, I actually wrote a whole post about this very topic for Sincerely, Kindred, so if you'd like to read it, just click here!

If you just came here for pretty pictures, I did put together a little gallery of some of my favorite shots from my adventure in Washington/Canada because, well, I am a photographer, after all. :)

Katey Lee