The Illusion of Having it All Together

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September 20, 2014

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Let’s face it: In a world flooded by pretty Instagram feeds & chipper Facebook statuses, it’s easy to feel inadequate.

Maybe you’ve said to yourself: “Why can’t my life be prettier? Where is my perfect white space & cutely-styled breakfast plate? I don’t have a new puppy or a fancy job or a growing business. What gives?”

If this sounds familiar, please know that we’ve ALL been there. In fact, almost everyone I’ve spoken to deals with this on the daily.

About a year ago, I attended the Making Things Happen conference in Chapel Hill, NC. Apart from the bigger picture of changing my life, it specifically encouraged me to strive for progress, not perfection. Among the many takeaways was Lara Casey‘s statement that “Comparison isn’t the thief of joy — it’s the thief of everything.” Amen! And although comparison is a serious waste of time & energy, it often seems impossible to quell.

I recently saw a friend’s post about comparing seasons of life & how it can truly tarnish our spirits. It is so important to remember that we are each at a different stage in our journey. When we think about it that way, it seems silly to compare our unique situation to anyone else’s. There are a million beautiful factors that led to where you are today, and there’s only one you. So why should you have a life that looks like anyone else’s?

Also, remember that social media is only a highlight reel. We shouldn’t compare our worst to someone else’s best. Repeat that to yourself: We shouldn’t compare our worst to someone else’s best. This helps me immensely whenever I see a fellow photographer’s work & think, “Oh man! I wish I could’ve created something like that.”

I mean it. As creatives, we all feel the green monster of comparison from time to time. So, how do we fight this comparison? It’s an internal battle that begins with gratitude. I find it super helpful to express my gratitude every day, either aloud or in writing.

Gratitude shouldn’t be something reserved for special occasions, like Thanksgiving. It should be a daily, intentional act. By keeping a gratitude journal, saying it to my husband, or simply jotting it down on a post-it, I’m reminded of how fortunate I am. Whatever my goals are, I know it’s about progress, not perfection. Even if I haven’t achieved something yet, I can always be grateful for steady growth.

Apart from keeping a gratitude journal, I also monitor my social media intake. And although I love & support many other photographers, I have chosen to hide most of them from my feed.

Even if I’m turning out beautiful work & overjoyed clients, when I see other artists posting & sharing, I start to question myself. This is a totally internal thing that I do (and I’m sure some of you do this, too!). Because of that, I decided to start censoring what I see in my feeds. In order to make the cut, the content has to be positive and inspiring for me & my business. If it leads to self-doubt or comparison, then I simply hide it from my feed.

Here’s a challenge: Think of three things you are grateful for today. They can be broad (like “my health”) or specific (like “the lady at the post office who always asks how my day is”). It doesn’t matter if they feel small or trivial — this exercise is about cultivating gratitude.

Here’s what I’ve got today:

1.) Even though I’ve been sick all week, I am grateful for the extra time to slow down & catch up on my work. I’m also grateful that my body somehow knows to get sick only when I have a rare wedding-free weekend! Confession: I may have answered most emails from beneath my fuzzy red blanket this week.

2.) I am grateful for our messy construction site of a kitchen — even if we can’t cook & all of the dishes are covered in sawdust. We knocked down a wall this week & are creating a beautiful open kitchen/dining area. Ultimately, it will be amazing!

3.) I am grateful for my clients who’ve expressed their boundless gratitude to me this season. Your words of encouragement fire me up!

Now it’s your turn! Tell me three things you’re grateful for today in the comments below. And remember, wherever you’re at: Be all there. Embrace the bedhead, the dust bunnies, or the fact that you’re still trying to figure out your life. We all are, I pinky-promise!

5 Comments
  1. Lisa September 20, 2014, 12:14

    1) I am grateful for all the opportunities I have been getting lately that are both improving my skills and motivating. Even if I am not getting paid, it will ultimately lead me to a greater path.
    2) I am grateful for my dirty house that I rarely have the time or energy to clean. It is a reminder that I am in the midsts of working hard to achieve my goals instead of having free time to scoop up the dust bunnies.
    3) I am grateful for the wonderful man in my life who never says a word about the messy house, and when I apologize for the dishes piled so high in the sink he can barely wash his hands and I have been sitting on the couch for the last few hours to finally relax, he says, “That’s what weekends are for. I’m glad you took time for yourself.”

  2. Beckie September 22, 2014, 8:38

    1. I have an unexpected free day today to spend home with my kids.
    2. I am blessed with 2 highly energetic and loving children.
    3. The existence of this post-I was having a “poor me” day before I gave myself a time out to unwind (yes, already. Sometimes my energetic and loving children are a huge handful at 7 a.m.) Thanks Bailey!

  3. Kate MInor September 22, 2014, 9:33

    Oh my gosh, Bailey. This post resonants to my very core! Thanks for this. 🙂 Here are my three: 1) I’m grateful for my amazing husband. He astonishes me in new ways with his beautiful love everyday. 2) I’m grateful to everyone who is cheering for me as I chase my dream of starting my own business. This support means the world to me! 3) I grateful for the quiet moments with just me, a cup of of tea, in the sunshine on my porch. Trying to be present in beautiful moments like this helps me relocate and find my center.

    Thanks, dear! I appreciate you so much! 🙂

  4. 28 Thoughts on Gratitude » F Stop Minor Photography September 24, 2014, 17:02

    […] I have decided to make a list. (In case you are wondering, my inspiration comes from here and here.) This is not just any list. This is a gratitude list. I believe that positivity manifests itself […]

  5. Angela Kissell October 23, 2014, 10:32

    Though, I’m not posting my three things, on the list would be this post. I think it’s so true the comparison aspect and was happy to read this as I was creeping on your facebook page:) Look your work! Kate has shared many lovely things about you! I know we’ve met briefly before, but am looking forward to chatting with you at our next rendezvous.
    P.S.-Love the gold and sparkly top!