Friday, May 4, 2012

Things We're Afraid To Tell You

Yesterday - the blog world embraced a new idea, a new idea that I love and appreciate so much.  Last week, the blogger behind Make Under My Life wrote a great article about how blogs (especially the pretty, design oriented lifestyle ones that so many of us waste hours on each day) may be contributing to a feeling amongst readers of what I'm calling "not enoughness". 

To try to balance the pretty photoshopped pictures and portrayals of perfect lives, bloggers are opening up about their "real lives" - and they're not typically as glamorous as their blogs might lead their readers to believe.

And its not just blogs, its facebook, and pinterest and now instagram. (Although I think my instagram which is 98% pictures of pets on various pieces of furniture is a pretty good representation of my real life).  Let's be honest.  We don't post statuses or post pictures that don't reflect us in the best possible light.  That's human nature.  (Although...ummm...well some people's definition of "best possible light" is obviously a little different than mine)  However, as a reader, or a consumer of all those statuses and pictures, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that you're only seeing one side of that person's life.

I used to write a design blog.  But I stopped.  I stopped because I felt I couldn't keep up anymore.   Not that I couldn't keep up with the writing, I love to write, the writing wasn't the problem.  The problem was that I felt I couldn't add anything to the blog world.  I wasn't doing crafts every weekend, we couldn't afford to take on any more renos or DIYs, I couldn't afford a camera that would take lovely pictures and be damned if I was spending any more money on getting design help for my blog. 

I also stopped following many of my favorite blogs for a while.  I couldn't stop comparing my own life to the lives of these people I'd never met.  I found spending time reading design blogs, and shelter mags, and even my favorite shopping websites made me feel inadequate.  I began over analysing these complete strangers, agonizing over what their day jobs were that they could afford these trips, these renos, these clothes.   Were they also saving for retirement? Did they inherit money? Were they going into debt to do it?  It was exhausting and frankly a bit pathetic. Worst of all, I was failing to appreciate my own life and experiences.  I looked at everything to determine whether it was blog worthy, would it impress others?  And this over analysis was over strangers...can you imagine the analysis I gave to friends' and families' lives? 

I finally said enough, and backed away from this design world for awhile.  Obsessed about food and recipes and exercise instead because they didn't cost money (or at least not additional money).  But the comparison monster creeped up on me again, and now, one week away from running my first half marathon, I can't help but wonder why I'm not as fast or strong or thin as some of the half marathoners whose blogs I read.  Does that fact that one blogger wrote that she and her family still laugh at her "ridiculously slow time of 2:08" of her first half marathon that she failed to train for make my goal of finishing at 2:15 (a goal I've trained hard for for 4 months) pathetic? Why can't I be proud that I'm going to actually do this.  Running (even if it is at a 10 minute mile pace) 13 miles is not something everyone does. But this terrible curse of comparison is making this moment just a bit less sweet for me.

So thank you to the bloggers who are sharing insights into their real lives.  Not because it makes me feel better about my own, (that's not their's my own responsibility to pull my head out of my ass and love my life)   but because I think it makes for more interesting blogs.  The many sides of a person, the many parts of their life are what make people interesting.  Our struggles and challenges add to our character and persona as much as our successes. Our fears are as important as our passions.

And I've set a new goal for myself.  Stop the comparisons.  Just stop it.  Enough already.    Enjoy social media for what it is - a distorted reality of human life but also a great venue for catching up with friends, finding ideas and for learning about great uses for dawn dish detergent.

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