I would love to blame social media on my comparison mind-games, but I think it started for me when I was in middle school. It was 1994 and I lived in a small town north of Tampa, Florida. At the time every single “cool” girl in my grade wore BONGO blue jean shorts with a button fly. They were the epitome of status. I remember looking at them longingly every single time my family and I would walk into our local department store. They were about $30/pair which to me might as well have been a thousand dollars a pair. We were not a wealthy family – my dad was the sole income provider and he worked in construction which ebbed and flowed with the weather and the contracts.
I clearly remember the evening that my parents presented me with a beautifully wrapped box, complete with a bow. My mom made such a big deal out of the fact that I had gotten straight A’s on my report card earlier by making my favorite dinner and hinting of the present that would come later. I was so excited as I unwrapped the white shirt box and tissue paper. My heart plummeted when I saw that in the box was a pair of RED denim BONGO shorts. I saw the remnants of the sale sticker ripped off and I knew that the shorts were all we could afford at the time. I tried to feign appreciation for the very thoughtful gift and I think my mom sensed that it wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for, but she went along with it. I wore the shorts to school the next day and all I could do was compare how I looked with the “cool” girls and it was a slow death of a 13-year-old girls’ heart.
Fast forward….I’m 36 years old, in my living room which is already littered with toys and Legos, drinking a cup of lukewarm coffee and scrolling through Instagram. I see a photo of a woman in a perfectly staged impeccably decorated bathtub in Paris, complete with a bottle of bubbly, roses, and her gorgeous blonde locks pulled back in a black ribbon. My mind goes to my upstairs bathroom which has yet to be decorated (seriously, we have a bath mat in front of our shower) to my bath tub that is NOT stand-alone, filled with Barbies, cars, and empty Aveeno bottles. When I get a chance to take a bath, I have my hair up in an Invisabobbie top knot with my phone in hand and a plastic glass of whatever has been left open from the night before.
I take a deep breath, release the feelings of comparison rising up, AND….
You see, my dear friends….unlike my 13-year-old self, I am in control of my reactions to people and things that cause me to feel any negativity about myself. Instagram is one of my favorite social media forums because I love seeing beautiful photos of people with their families in amazing places across the globe. But if seeing someone who I will probably never meet in real life who doesn’t have the life that I can envision for myself makes me feel the slightest bit like ‘I’m not enough’ then you know what? I don’t allow it.
Comparison is the death of all joy. – Rachel Hollis, Girl, Wash Your Face
I know that you are sitting here reading this and immediately heading over to my Instagram to check on my “life” and it looks pretty much close to perfect. Yes, this is what I want my followers, new and existing, to see. It is a beautiful summary of my life, my family, my marriage, and my thoughts. But I am a mom of two littles just trying to pee alone just like every other mom out there. Pop over to my Instagram stories and you can see I am a real human being just like you and (even) that girl in the tub.
I poop like you poop (everybody poops!). I have to abandon carts in Target when my toddler has a complete meltdown. I still suck in my tummy when I take a photo. I am obsessed with the Bachelorette and old re-runs of Friends and Sex and the City. I used coupons at Kroger yesterday and I have let my kids have ice-cream for breakfast on occasion because it was easier than battling the “Please have some eggs” song and dance. It took me two years to lose my “baby weight” with my last baby. I am terrified to put these feelings out in the world because it makes me vulnerable. I am more terrified if I don’t.
If my feed causes someone to feel less than great about themselves then I hope they keep scrolling too. My goal is to inspire women to feel beautiful – inside and out. To embrace all their imperfections and differences for the beauty that they are. We have to STOP comparing ourselves to those “cool” girls. Because let’s face it…. one day they will hide in the bathroom from their kids.
What causes you to compare yourself to others? How does it make you feel? What are the things about your life that you love and want to share?