Authenticity, Gratitude

The Illusion of Having it All Together


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!

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