A quote I’ve heard many times and LOVE as a reminder:
“Comparison is the root of all unhappiness”
Anytime I find I am getting down on myself; my accomplishments, my body, my home, my parenting, I know that the root is comparison.
I think growing up as a female (or maybe just a human), throughout teenage years and young adulthood in the city, it is so common to size up other women, what they’re wearing, how they look, how put together they are, and placing yourself against them. Sometimes that would result with a temporary feeling of confidence, but sometimes it would have the opposite effect.
I never felt this more than when I entered into motherhood.
Let me paint you a picture of what ultimately led to an overwhelming feeling of not being good enough, not being skinny enough, not being smart enough, not being creative enough, etcetera, etcetera.
When I got pregnant with my first, I was elated. It was just a few short months after we got married and at the time I was also new into using Instagram. We had recently relocated from Toronto to Peterborough, I had quit my fast-paced job in the corporate design world and I didn’t know a soul in this new city. I was lonely but hopeful for the future and finally about to fulfill my dreams as a mom. So I started following ALL the ‘Inst-moms’ (you know the ones, with the super staged, beautifully curated photos, the ones who get paid for said photos through ad’s). I thought it would provide me with inspiration, but what I didn’t realize until a couple years later, I was filling my mind with ideas of what being a mom SHOULD be.
It was also my first real exposure to social media. So after baby arrived and I spent (literally) 12-16 hours a day with a baby attached to my nipple and one free hand, guess what I did? I scrolled even more. I used it as entertainment, inspiration, and something to keep me company.
So the months following her birth I started to feel more and more unhappy and unsettled in my body. I know there was more to it than just the influence of social media and comparison, but this played a huge part in it. I wanted to ‘lose my baby weight’ fast, I wanted my baby to be dressed in cute outfits, I wanted it to seem like I was loving this new job of mine.
It took me about a year to realize that I was brainwashing myself with my social media feed and these ‘Inst-moms’ I was following so closely. So when I got pregnant the second time and really, truly started woking on my self, digging deep, it was revealed to me so clearly. I was spending hours a day comparing myself, and I pretty much always came up short because those pictures don’t capture REAL LIFE! Once I was hit in the head with this realization, I got to work.
I immediately went onto my instagram feed and deleted any profile/post that made me feel less-then. I had to be really in-tuned and honest with myself, checking in with the initial reaction to seeing a picture. If I scrolled down and instantly compared myself, wished I could be, wished I could have… I would delete them. Once I got rid of anything that was having a negative impact on my self-worth, I started re-filling it with those that lifted me up. Those feeds that empowered me or made me feel good.
This wasn’t a quick process, and has taken years to get to this point. And still I find I have to consciously check in if I notice old patterns creeping in. And on top of the curation of my ‘friends’ I also find I don’t spend nearly as much time scrolling. I use it at times but am intentional with my use and rarely mindlessly scroll now.
If you notice this happening to yourself and are not a social media user, assess you direct circle of friends. Sometimes you need to look at those people and see if they are adding to or taking away from your life. How do you feel when you walk away from an interaction or hanging out with them? Do you feel lifted up and happy? Or do you feel beaten down and not confident?
I know it is WAY harder to ‘curate’ your friend circles, but just as (if not more) important. Assess why you are hanging out with this person. Is it out of habit? Are they a friend from elementary school? Do you feel like you owe them? Do you feel like you will have no friends without them? Take a good, hard look at the relationship and why you are in it.
Women (and especially moms) are so incredibly good at the comparison game, which can lead to so much unnecessary misery or feeling of being ‘less-than’. But we are also directly teaching our little ones to do the same. Take a look at yourself and find your TRUE NORTH. Who are YOU? What do you LOVE to do? What are you GREAT at? What are your VALUES? Write it down, journal about it, and anytime you are feeling unworthy or unhappy, break out the list and recalibrate yourself, instead of looking to social media or negative influences on yourself.
I hope you’ve gleaned something from this, and I hope that you see how incredible YOU are, how ORIGINAL you are, and how you DO NOT need to change.