The word ‘snapshot’ came to me a few weeks ago after a new mommy friend shared with me her observations of Zane being quiet, shy, and close (distance-vise) to me. At first I brushed it off saying in due time, the real Zane will surface, which is an active, boundary-testing, firm in his wants, strong-willed, and independent toddler. Well, we’ve had many play dates since then and Zane has yet to become his true self to them. It got to the point where I felt like I was making up my trials to my new friend and erroneously saying Zane was similar to her child, who quickly became herself with us on day one. After concluding (again) that Zane takes his sweet time to warm up to people, anyone who meets him for the first time (and possibly many times afterwards), will only know him based on the snapshot he offers them. This made me think. Throughout our day and through many encounters, we only see a snapshot of something or someone. And yet it’s easy to assume it’s reality. Following are two examples to better illustrate my reflections. Snapshot of parenting: If I see a mother of three interact with her children with grace, patience, and love, I can easily think she’s got it together and desire to have those characteristics in which I fall short daily. What I need to remember is that I’m viewing a snapshot moment. She may embody those beautiful qualities and act that way all the time, or I may have caught her in a good moment that day, or she could be putting on a show to look good. Who knows? I should view the moment for what it was and not make any judgments about it. The second example has to do with couples. Couples (us included) can be really good at fabricating the snapshot they allow others to see. Just because a couple looks happy and non-combative as dinner guests does not mean that is how they are when others are not around. I have come across so many couples who have joined us for a first double date with Daniel and I following a fight, and if it weren’t for my sensitivity to people’s nonverbals and emotions, I would’ve assumed they were doing “good” and always a cheerful, loving couple. In these cases, the couples intentionally acted a certain way during the dinner date so that the snapshot we observed was different to their reality.
This realization of snapshots reminded me that I never know someone’s reality, even when I know the person well. I cannot make my judgments or give opinions based on the snapshots I see because snapshots can be tweaked by the person/ people involved.