The Masked Reality: Navigating the Pressure to Pretend

Question–have you ever faked a happy photo on social media when in reality you’re feeling really bad or sad?

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Zoe rolled her eyes at each photo she scrolled through on social media feed–she paused at the photo of a family – she felt sick looking at their faces and fake smiles. Not that anyone would know those smiles were fake. They looked so genuine and super happy. The whole family looked picture perfect. They were dressed impeccably. The twins looked like dolls with their red hair and freckled smiling faces – big dimples dances on their little cheeks. The brother looked handsome in his dark suit and polka-dot bow tie. The older girl was dressed in a pretty blue dress and Nike sneakers–she had a big grin on her face as she posed next to her mother and brother–but her green eyes held a tinge of sadness. Tears welled in Zoe’s eyes as she studied the photo – feeling angry, she tossed the phone across her bed. It rolled, then dropped to the carpeted floor with a soft thud.

“Fake! Liar!” she seethed under her breath.

She hated those photos of her and her family–fake and fake. It has only been three days since her parents have celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary, so the events of the day were fresh in her mind.

As soon as she woke up that Sunday morning, she heard the yelling of her parents fighting yet again. She had sat up waiting to see if they stopped, but the shattering of a glass and the cry of one of the twins told her it wasn’t ending soon.

She tiptoed across the room and opened the door softly – her 9-year-old brother was also standing at the door peeking out. He stared at her with his tousled red hair and shrugged. She gave him a tiny smile and nodded, understanding his feelings.

Hearing the fighting getting worse, she hurried back into her room and closed her door softly so she wouldn’t be caught. Zoe didn’t even remember when her parents had fought so much. The days they didn’t argue were totally rare now. She had asked her mum why they didn’t get a divorce and she had told her she didn’t want people to talk–they had a reputation to uphold, and she could not tolerate the thought of going through that. Zoe didn’t understand it. Her father was verbally and emotionally abusing to their mum and sometimes to her and her brother and sisters. She wished he would disappear or just walk out and leave them. But no, here he was looking like an impeccable human and loving father to everyone at church and at his work. He was the picture of perfection.

Zoe groaned and flopped back on the bed. Minutes passed, and she heard footsteps coming along the hallway. After a soft knock, the door opened and her mother’s face appeared.

“Honey, get ready, please. We’re going out to celebrate our anniversary.” Her mum’s voice shook a little, but she cleared it and pasted on a smile. “It’s be fun!”

Zoe sat up and crossed her arms. “I heard you guys fighting again. Why are we even going to celebrate something that isn’t even real? I want out. I’m not going!”

Her mum hurried to her side and sat on the bed. “Darling, please don’t make a scene. Your dad wants to go out and celebrate, and I honestly am too tired to keep arguing with him.” Her mum took a deep breath. “Just go for me, please?”

Zoe glanced at her mum as tears welled in her eyes. She nodded slowly.

Her mum reached over and gave her a quick hug. “Love you.” Then she was off to get everyone ready.

Zoe had felt sick then, and she felt sick now as she remembered the whole thing. How could her mum even put up photos of their anniversary? She didn’t understand why they had to pretend so much–if only photos spoke and everything was revealed. Social media was fake, and she hated it now more than ever.

How does God feel when you pretend?

God does not like for us to pretend–he wants us to be authentic and humble people.

This is the trap that most of us fall into–we look at other people’s social media accounts or lives and we think it’s perfection. Look at Zoe’s life–it was all a big fat lie. Her father was hurting them, yet the photos they were posting said otherwise.

What can you do about it?

Okay, so first thing is never idolize anyone besides God. He should be the only one that we love above everything and admire. People are human and most of the times we place them on pedestal–these are singers, actresses, Tik Tokers, youtubers, etc. The truth is that we should never look at someone as a perfect being. They are flawed and have problems just like any of us.

Focus your eyes on Jesus. He brings happiness and peace. Most times when we look at people, we feel really inadequate and start wishing we were them.

What verse can help?

Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

Psalm 119:37 

“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”

Now remember, people are not worthless–they are God’s creation. But they are human and we should never have them above God.


Here are four fun ideas you and your friends can do together to encourage authenticity and strengthen your faith:

1. Bible Study and Discussion Sessions

Gather your friends for regular Bible study and discussion sessions. Choose a passage or topic that resonates with all of you and dive deep into its meaning and relevance to your lives. Encourage open and honest conversations about your faith journey, doubts, and questions. By exploring God’s word together, you can support each other in growing spiritually and living authentically as girls of God.

2. Service Projects in the Community

Volunteer together for service projects in your community. Whether it’s serving meals at a homeless shelter, participating in a beach clean-up, or organising a fundraiser for a charitable cause, serving others is a powerful way to live out your faith authentically. By giving back to those in need, you can embody the values of compassion, kindness, and selflessness taught by Jesus Christ.

3. Creative Expression Workshops

Express your faith and individuality through creative expression workshops. Gather your friends for art, music, or writing sessions where you can explore your spirituality and share your unique talents. Whether you’re painting Bible verses, composing worship songs, or writing personal reflections, creative expression can be a meaningful way to connect with God and each other on a deeper level.

4. Prayer and Reflection Retreats

Plan prayer and reflection retreats with your teen friends to spend quality time in God’s presence. Choose a peaceful location, such as a retreat centre or natural setting, where you can disconnect from the distractions of daily life and focus on deepening your spiritual connection. Spend time in prayer, meditation, and quiet reflection, allowing God to speak to your hearts and guide you on your journey of authenticity and faith.

These activities are designed to help you and your friends deepen your faith, strengthen your bonds, and live authentically as girls of God. By supporting each other in your spiritual journey, you can grow together in love, grace, and authenticity.

PICTURE CREDIT- Pexel Free Images

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