Comparison is the thief of joy // Being good enough

I apologise now that this is going to be a bit of a brain dump post – it’s been bubbling away in the back of mind for a while now and I think that writing about it might make me feel better and be able to move on from it…

I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t use social media in some way or another (except perhaps my dad) and I am no exception. Don’t get me wrong, I love social media – I remember when I first got Facebook, over 10 years ago now, and I was so excited to find people I went to school with and see what they were up to (although I’d already been doing that a bit with Friends Reunited, remember that?), it also meant I could connect with people I’d worked with overseas, people I hadn’t spoken to for years. Of course I also became Facebook friends with people I knew in real life and saw regularly anyway too.

After Facebook came Twitter and it was then that I started talking to people I had never met before, mostly through a shared love of Tim Minchin, and it was through Twitter, in a round about way, that I met my husband. Now I mostly use Twitter for sharing blog links and not much else (apologies if I annoy you with this by the way).

After Twitter I started using Instagram, at first for sharing day to day phone snaps as I took them and more recently for micro-blogging and more edited and well chosen pictures of the boys.

But…and I do have a point here I promise…when I first started using social media it was just for me to talk to people I already knew or connect to people with similar interests to mine. And then I started blogging and social media became more about promoting my blog and growing my ‘audience’. What it has also meant is that I follow lots of other bloggers on social media and I read lots of other blogs.

And what you see when you follow lots of blogs on social media, is lots of people having amazing adventures with their families, going on fabulous holidays, living in lovely homes, having days out and taking pictures of their beautiful children in rape seed fields or bluebell woods or lavender fields, or picking strawberries or visiting stately homes, or eating fish and chips on the steps of colourful beach huts. I see couples on date nights, on child free holidays, spending time alone with husbands and wives and partners, not just slumped on the sofa staring at phones, too tired to talk to each other.

Comparison is the thief of joy

I’m not having a go at bloggers for doing these things – hell knows I’ve done it myself before now. Part of what we do as bloggers is present the best side of our lives.

But that doesn’t mean that when it’s 11 am and we’re all still wearing our pyjamas and the most exciting thing we’ve done with our weekend is go to the supermarket that I don’t feel that I am inadequate – that I am somehow failing my children because we aren’t out having fun every second of every day.

It doesn’t mean that when I see parents setting up activities in tuff trays, or crafting, or encouraging their kids to get covered in paint and create an artistic masterpiece that I don’t feel guilty that all we did was watch CBeebies and get all the toys out (but not necessarily play with them) while I count down the minutes until lunch time and nap time, and daddy getting home from work so I can have a break for five minutes.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t feel like I am failing in my marriage because we never get to spend any time alone together, that when I’ve had children climbing all over me all day the last thing I want is to be cuddled by my husband and that when I go to bed all I want to do is sleep.

Of course there are also bloggers who write about traumatic births and post natal depression, and how their homes aren’t picture perfect, or how they are worried about their child’s behaviour or any number of other struggles and I love seeing all those blog posts and social media updates too.

But the human brain is a tricksy thing – it very cleverly ignores all the posts and updates that show that, actually, most people live lives just like ours. And instead it highlights all the other posts, the ones that make me feel like I’m not good enough, that we should be doing more, having more fun, going more places, making more memories.

Deep down, I know that really it doesn’t matter. That probably if I wasn’t being bombarded with posts and updates of all the exciting things that other people are doing, if I wasn’t comparing myself to them, then I would probably be perfectly happy with the way things are. It seems that old Teddy Roosevelt was right and comparison is the thief of joy after all.

And I know that we do do things, that we go places and have fun. Maybe we don’t do it every day or every weekend, but then I also know we don’t need to. On Friday the boys stayed in their pyjamas all day, we watched TV and played with trains and baked cookies (from some dough I already had in the freezer)… and they had a lovely day.

And I also know that they are happy, and they are healthy, and at the end of the day they are four and almost two and they probably won’t remember a huge amount about this time in their lives anyway. There’s plenty of time for adventures and making memories still to come – they’ve still got pretty much their whole childhoods’ ahead of them.

I know the answer to all this really. I am good enough. I am a good enough mother, a good enough wife, sometimes even a good enough blogger. What I really need to do is switch off my phone, stop my endless scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, and concentrate on living my own life, not worrying that it isn’t as good as someone else’s.

Thanks for sticking with me if you’ve made it through my ramble. What do you think? Does social media make us compare ourselves to others more than we ever have before?

8 thoughts on “Comparison is the thief of joy // Being good enough

  1. I can relate to this so much! When I see the perfect families with their perfect photos I have to remind myself that there were probably two, three or more naff photos that didn’t make the cut and a stressed out mum too! If it helps I’m envious of your house 😉

  2. I totally get this Sarah, although perhaps in a different way. I mostly don’t generally care about how blurry and crap and lacking in colour my life through blogging and Instagram is; I’ve forced myself to be mostly okay with how unnatural a mother I am, at how visually unappealing our lives are. For me, I feel incredibly lacking in confidence when I feel so passionately about something (a current affairs story, a life event, a business, a philanthropic endeavour) and I can’t bloody get that message out there. That no matter what I do, it’s not enough to get my voice heard amongst the beautiful photos and the gin and the general hilarity about being a shit mum, or the perfection of tuft spots and lavender fields. I’m a very lost voice amongst that noise and sometimes it feels too high a hill to even start climbing. For what it’s worth, I love your social media and your blog and you!xx

  3. This exact comparison thing you describe, with instagram especially, made me actually quite miserable a few years ago. Tims were tough in my life, financially and in regards to certain family relationships, and I’d feel a tiny stab of sadness and envy every time I’d see someone else’s photo of them having a (seemingly) amazing adventure or good time. It’s only a picture, but All those little moments really do start to add up. Things are better in my life nowadays, and as such, it doesn’t bother me. But I know if I ever feel like that again, the best thing I need to do for myself is step away from social media for a bit. I honestly think that everyone feels a bit like this, and a lot of social media is ‘showing off’, whether we consciously mean it to or not.

  4. This is such a good post. I’m so turned off by blogs or social media accounts which are picture perfect. I used to get quite demoralised by them, just as you describe. But now I try to avoid them. Some of them are too perfect, and I often wonder what’s going on behind the flawless surface…

  5. Hi Sarah,

    I completely agree with you! Social media can really expand people’s lives and you can reach a much bigger and more international group of friends more easily, but it can also give you a false feeling of having friends, when the best relationships are still built face to face or at least through 121 communication. It can also make people doubt themselves, feel down, feel they are less than other people.
    I felt so down once in my life and reading updates from people on Facebook made it even worse. I looked for help, but also got off Facebook for 6 months and actively looked for contact with people individually! Ok, I did miss the odd party invitation or pregnancy/engagement announcement, but these things did find their way through other channels too. I felt much closer to my friends and family (living abroad) through individual conversations. I am back on it now, but am much more sceptical about what people put on there and also barely post myself about my own life.
    Sometimes I think our parent’s generation (my mum and dad are not on any social media) were more easily content than we are now.
    Thanks for sharing your brain dump!!

  6. A bit late to the party, but I thought I’d finally comment after reading this post for the second time.

    What a brilliant post. Perfectly put. It’s only after three years of parenting that I’ve accepted that my house won’t ever look like others that I see on social media, and I’m ok with that. Because whilst their monochrome bedrooms are off limits to actual play because it’s ‘insta-ready’ my kid’s bedroom is being destroyed because he’s having a childhood. Equally, I’ve come to realise that my child is growing up far too quickly, so I’ve decided to slow down a little so I can enjoy these moments before they’re gone. If it means staying in our pyjama’s until lunchtime and watching hey duggee, then so be it, because that’s what they’ll remember. Not how pretty you made something for someone ELSE to enjoy.

    Fab post. X

    1. Thanks lovely – I still struggle with this to be honest, it’s hard not to look at other people’s Insta-perfect lives and feel like I’m failing. But I try to remind myself that no-one is really that perfect and they just choose to show us the good bits. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with staying in your pyjamas and watching Hey Duggee until lunch time 🙂

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