Jan 28, 2016
Solo Girl Chronicles is a new weekly series on the blog. I am opening up the blog to admirable girls I have come across from years of "living" online who surprisingly have a lot more in common with my story, and maybe even yours, of anxiety disorders and social mental blocks than anyone would realize. Sometimes you just a need a chance to share your voice. After that, we all realize how similar we really are, and how no one is alone when it comes to the human experience. If you'd like to share your story, please see my new submissions page here.
I've dealt with this.
We’ve all dealt with it.
We find ourselves scrolling through Instagram; the feelings of jealousy building, as one photo after the other portrays a perfect family in their flawlessly put tpgether adorable outfits, frollicking in the snow. They’re all laughing - not one of them has a hair out of place and it’s basically perfect. Then you read the caption, and you just know you’ll never measure up to these impeccably dressed women with perfectly eloquent thoughts about life and motherhood and business.
This all hit me harder than ever last year after having my son in May. My world was turned upside down in an instant. All of a sudden I was a momma. That changed everything. If you would have asked me before I had my sweet little boy whether I had a huge problem with comparison or not, I would have definitely said no. But after my labor and delivery didn’t go as planned - that’s another longgg story for another day - I started comparing myself to other moms’ labor and deliveries. I became obsessed with reading other women’s birth stories and how mine should’ve/could’ve/would’ve gone differently if only I’d been stronger. Then the comparison virus started to seep into other areas of my life. I would see other business-owning mommas #rockingit with their new babies while I felt like I was drowning and unable to get anything done. Then my son stopped sleeping through the night. It seemed like everyone else’s babies were perfect sleepers and I was alone, yet again. You can see how this quickly became a slippery slope of jealousy, bitterness, and - yep, you guessed it - comparison.
I decided to slow down, think on what would be best for ME, and join some mom groups. While the community was a game changer for me, I still found myself scrolling through Instagram with a pit in my stomach when I got home. How were these women doing it? How did they find time to curl their hair, take beautiful photos for social media, and write smart and creative blog posts while taking care of their little ones? I mean we’re all given the same amount of hours in a day, right? It just all seemed impossible and I began to question whether I should even be in business at all right now.
I began to realize that my jealousy was stemming from my sense of self worth (or lack thereof).
I started to notice that when I looked at other women’s lives (or their “highlight reels”) on social media, I was looking at them selfishly. It wasn’t about their accomplishments or great things happening in their lives, it was about what wasn’t happening in mine and the goals I wasn’t able to reach. How selfish is that?! These people, who I called my "friends" are celebrating big things, and all I could think was “why can’t I do that?”
I knew something had to change. It wasn’t just about unfollowing certain people on Instagram, or avoiding social media altogether. I genuinely know these platforms can be amazing and inspiring resources, and I didn’t want to give that up completely!
It was about a heart change.
I decided to concentrate on real relationships, starting with and take a few days off social media to refocus. I reached out to other mommas and found that I wasn’t the only one dealing with these feelings. I stepped into my fear and made real friends. I was afraid that if I let anyone know that I wasn’t the perfect momma/business woman, I would look silly and unprofessional. But what I began to realize as I put myself out there, is that we’re all dealing with this. We’re all feeling a bit inadequate and comparing ourselves to others. Social media doesn’t help - we share the good and leave out the bad. That seems obvious, I mean, why would I share a photo of my son screaming or a photo of my incredibly messy home? And that may never happen for most of us, but when we realize that everyone else is also sharing their “highlight reel,” it puts it all into perspective.
Here are the biggest steps I took in order to fight that comparison monster:
- Find a community - finding other mommas out there who were in the same season of life was a game-changer. I have an on-going text thread with a few momma friends and it’s such a blessing! We vent, we celebrate little victories, we complain, we pray for each other. It’s pretty amazing and I would say this is the NUMBER ONE thing you should search for after having a baby.
- Give myself grace - I’m not perfect. Obviously. But sometimes we get sucked into thinking we are supposed to be perfect. Why? I’m not sure but I do know it’s not good. Take a step back and give yourself grace. We’re all struggling and taking it #daybyday. You can’t be everything to everyone all the time.
- Take breaks from social media - Taking weekends off of social media (or longer if you feel you need it) is so refreshing. I can focus on real life and my family with no distractions. I would highly recommend this. And for a little irony, you can use the hashtag #socialmediafreeweekend
Lauren Jolly is a wedding and birth photographer in the Raleigh, NC area. She considers it an honor to photograph people on the most life-changing days of their lives. When she's not behind her camera, you can usually find her with a cup of coffee in hand, snuggling on the couch, watching Netflix with her son, Finn, and husband, Vaughan.