Living Unfiltered in a Filtered Society


Filters, filters. Everywhere I turn and look, all I see are filters. We live and function in a crazy, filtered, expectant society. There are so many ideals about how to reach “success” ingrained in our culture, we don’t even recognize them. Here are a few examples.  

  • Corporate view: You reach “success” by making money, driving a nice car, wearing nice clothing, having sleek hair, being fit, vacationing over the summer and spring break, and living in a big home.

  • Religious view: You reach “success” by attending church every week. You have personal devotional time daily, you serve and volunteer whenever you aren’t working, you're married before you have babies, you're modest, you speak the lingo, you carry coffee most of the time, you're put together, and you're always nice and never have troubles (because prayer has been successful).

  • Free-spirited view: You reach “success” by living carefree. Your clothes are loose and flowy, you live “in the moment,” you practice yoga, you may have dreads or long flowing hair, you wear sandals (even in the winter), you're trying to build a tiny house, and you could care less about making money.

Do any of these sound familiar? None of these ideals are necessarily bad. In fact, many of these concepts of achieving success are great. That's why they exist—because they speak to so many people. Being fit, practicing yoga, drinking coffee (hello!), saving money, praying, and taking vacations are actually fantastic life plans and goals. So, what’s the problem?

The problem is not the belief systems (about reaching success) themselves, but the tainted messages we humans inject into them. Things like, "If you want to be successful then you have to drive a nice car, practice yoga and be thin, drink lattes . . . ." And, “If you want to be a successful/good religious person, you have to get up every morning to read your Bible, never miss church, pray for an hour every day, and never ever talk about having a bad day.” What do these “have-to” beliefs cause much of the time? Shame, embarrassment, pressure, and fabricated truths—filters. We filter ourselves to avoid being ashamed, embarrassed—because let’s face it—who wants to have those feelings? I certainly don't.

But the question is this: Are you satisfied filtering yourself? Is it fulfilling to try to live up to some standard that you may not fully agree with anyway? Do you have a hunch when someone isn’t being completely unfiltered with you, and do you feel fully connected with them? I don’t know about you, but my interests and belief systems may have some quirks that don’t typically fit the standard. Most people don’t fit the mold that culture tends to place on us.

Our society attempts to define us; my proposition is that we should define it. Do you ever catch yourself admiring someone who seems to march to the beat of their own drum? They just have that “something” that draws people to them. I would be willing to bet much of that draw has to do with their vulnerability with people—owning their quirks and letting their freak flag fly. Because guess what? That freak flag isn’t actually freaky. It’s amazing and inspiring. It’s unfiltered!