Well folks, the holiday season has officially begun. Everyone’s brilliant Halloween costumes flooded my social media pages this weekend and will continue to until Wednesday. Soon after, Pinterest will explode with delicious recipes for Thanksgiving meals and beautiful decor to match.
As a stay at home mom, the pressure I feel to make our house the beautifully decorated abode I see on the internet is very real. Completely self-inflicted, but real. There is a part of me that feels like this is my job, and I am failing miserably if we don’t make the cookies, leave reindeer poop out, or have a picturesque Advent season. And it’s not just the holidays — it’s every day life. Social media makes some people’s daily lives look dreamy, doesn’t it?
If you homeschool, you know the blogs and Instagram accounts that make every day look like a lovely, well mannered tea-party. That is certainly not what school looks like over here, nor will it ever — although I have found myself lingering over the pretty tea kettles at Homegoods. Common sense snaps me back to reality as I remember my crew and their disinterest in anything called “poetry and tea time.” And I can see the beautiful tea kettle breaking at the hands of — well, someone.
That’s what comparison does. It makes you try something that you are pretty sure will not go over well, and then when it doesn’t go well you wonder what is wrong with you. Suzie Suzerson can have tea with her 7 kids and have insightful discussions about symbolism. My kids play football with the kettle.
Suzie Suzerson manages to cook a 7 course Thanksgiving dinner and her table is decorated as if it came straight out of Nate Burkus’s house. Me? I couldn’t get 2 courses finished last year before collapsing and having to be rushed to the ER. I had put so much completely unnecessary stress on myself. True story. And yes, I know that it is not normal or okay to make yourself sick trying to reach a ridiculous expectation. That is why I am writing about this now. If you, like me, struggle with comparison, then you can’t be reminded of these things enough.
The Truth About Comparison and How To Deal
Comparison can give you a false sense of insecurity. The biggest mistake I make when scrolling through social media is assuming that everyone is being 100% transparent in their posts. What I often forget is that many accounts are being used by people making their living from how many likes, followers, or clicks they get. Of course they make their lives look picturesque. They have taken courses on how to do so, and it’s clearly working. Your life does not look like their IG account, and it’s very likely that theirs doesn’t either.
Comparison can give you a false sense of pride. On the flip side, comparing yourself and coming out feeling self-righteous in your own efforts is just as damaging. That attitude puffs you up and spills into your interactions with others. Your kids can adopt that attitude and it can affect their friendships and relationships too. No one wants to raise Snobby Bobby. Not to mention, as the Good Book says, “pride comes before destruction.”
Whether it’s social media or blogs, find your problem mediums and cut them out. Click “unfollow.” Just. Do. It. Do it for your sanity. If you find you are struggling with one account in particular then don’t follow it! If you are struggling big-time, do a social media cleanse. I have found them helpful in the past.
Be realistic about your own limitations. Since I struggle with comparing schooling and decor/thematic activities, I have to tell myself that 1. I do not have money to shop at Pottery Barn. 2. My kids do not have the ability to keep a white table cloth clean (okay, me neither). 3. I don’t like baking all that much 4. I will never ever rival Joanna Gaines in the ability to transform a room, and 5. The kids are learning plenty even though we don’t live on a farm.
Don’t stake your identity to material things. You are more than they way your house looks. You are more than the way your kids behave. You are more than your ability (or in my case, inability) to recreate ideas you see on Pinterest or cook a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. You are a woman who desires to do your best for your family. You are a woman designed with her own set of gifts and talents. The impression you leave on the lives of those around you is yours alone, so there is no need to try to be someone else.
I hope you remember these little truth-nuggets next time you feel the comparison bug biting you as you are scrolling. Teddy Roosevelt was on point when he said: “Comparison is the thief of Joy.” When it comes knocking, slam the door in its face. Some of us have to fight harder for joy. If that’s you, dig deep. Look to the things that really matter: family, faith, hope, love, and kindness. I know it sounds cliché, but sometimes the most cliché things are true.
Slam the door on comparison and fight for the joy you deserve. And know that I’m fighting right alongside you.