Does anybody remember taking class pictures in elementary school? We all lined up on risers, tall kids in the back, less height advantaged kids in the middle, and those in between got to sit in chairs in the front…1,2,3…a snapshot of you and your peers at that moment in time sealed with a flash. I anxiously awaited getting those 8 ½ x 11 images back because you got to see how you measured up, and the comparison trap began.
I have struggled with comparison for as long as I can remember. Whether it was my clothes, my hair, my body type, my grades, my athleticism, my relationship status, my lunch – you get the picture – and this was all before social media (yes, even before MySpace gave you the option to select skinny, athletic, or more to love). There is something inside of us that begs to assess our situation by placing it up against someone else’s. I always thought that when I became a grown up, I would stop; surely once I was an adult, I would be secure enough to embrace myself. I didn’t, and the scroll of the highlight reel of social media certainly hasn’t helped. I finally said enough after I became a mom, and I realized that I was struggling to find joy in motherhood because I was constantly comparing my daily life with the lives of people I watched unfold on the grid. My activities were
not near as planned out or successful as hers. My kids would not sit still for a beautifully captured image like hers did. My lunches came from a bag in the freezer and were served on plastic plates and hers were organic, chopped, and looked like they fell from a colander perfectly onto a charcuterie board. Our days out consisted of a free park with a fence so I wouldn’t lose anyone, and hers were educational trips to museums and trails. When I did preschool from home, I thought I was ruining my kids by not teaching them enough. When I went back to work, I thought I was ruining my kids by not being their teacher every day. I couldn’t win. I felt defeated daily. Can anyone relate?
Let me pause and say, I ADMIRE the mommas who have amazingly planned activities. I LOVE the mommas who put lunch on a board because their kids are old enough to handle it. I APPLAUD the mommas who homeschool. I SUPPORT the mommas who work. I CHEER (quietly) for the mommas in the museums. You are amazing, and you are rocking it. If you are loving your babies and doing this thing called “motherhood” in the way that works best for your family, then you are killing it – even on the days when it feels like it is killing you back. But where I went wrong was that I was trying to be the mom that someone else was meant to be. All three of my kids were (miraculously) placed in my family for me to be their mom. God knew the momma I would be when He picked them and me. That doesn’t excuse me from trying to be better, but it does relieve me of the pressure to be someone I am not.
There is nothing wrong with the highlight reel – I love to see pictures of cute kids, or pretty beach trips, or the vegetables from a backyard garden – but those things should cause us to celebrate each other, not leave us feeling like we’re lacking. If you are feeling yourself trapped by the comparison game, I would encourage you to take a step back from scrolling and take a step into thankfulness for where you have been uniquely placed and uniquely gifted. You are incredibly good at being you…and that is exactly who you should be.
If you are interested in some great resources on this topic check out these videos:
1. Listening to Shame | Brené Brown
2. The Power of Vulnerability | Brené Brown
Or the following articles:
1. Is Facebook Destroying Society and Your Mental Health? New research is clear: Deactivating social media can improve your life. Read Here.
2.The Emotional Responses of Browsing Facebook: Happiness, envy, and the role of tie strength. Read Here.
By: Danae Hawthorne