It happened again tonight….the same way it happens most nights. It happens innocently enough, beginning with a simple browsing through facebook or surfing through Twitter. (And don’t even get me started on Pinterest!)As I scroll through my feed, I am smacked in the face with a painful reality and end up walking away full of anxiety, guilt, fear, and envy. A friend of mine will share the post of a “competing” blogger. Someone will “check-in” half a dozen places in the same day (more outings then my children will take in a month.) My page views will have a low day. Someone will post a picture of their gourmet dinner while I stare at my tuna casserole and tube biscuits. I will be bombarded with thirty-eight thousand ways to use a cupcake wrapper in a crafting project (when I don’t even use them for cupcakes!) I’ll see the video of another child doing something mine can’t do yet. They’re out on a date (again.) She has more sponsors/facebook likes/followers than I do. I could keep going….(for several hours…) Sound familiar?
Am I blaming social media for our skewed view of ourselves? Nope…this one is on us. If we base our self-worth on the approval of others, our life will be filled with the insecurity, fear, doubt, and anger that come from such an unstable view of self. It is a false belief to think that certain standards must be met in order to feel good about yourself. We compare ourselves to others and find ourselves acting out due to our false belief system. Some of us will frantically try to outdo everyone, living a rules and schedule dominated life, unable to relax or enjoy time with their family (they’re too busy making crap they found on Pinterest.) Some will give up entirely, thinking that if they can’t find time to make bundt cakes and play sight word bingo while doing P90X and teaching their toddler German, then well….what’s the point of doing anything? (I wish I was exaggerating here, but you all know I’m not.) We see the things (we perceive) others to be doing and feel like we simply MUST do it too. (And I mean ALL of it.)
We get so caught up in the mindset that mommyhood is a competition. I’m here to tell you that there are no medals, no trophies, and sadly, no cash prize. The truth we really need to hear (I really need to hear) is that we won’t attain a sense of self-worth. Our self-worth cannot come from our performance plus the approval of others. Period. It’s a trap ladies, and a dangerous one. I have had no greater struggle throughout my life than finding my true self-worth. I have always sought after it in my achievements and in the perception of me from others. When I fail (say when another blogger’s post about the very thing you’re writing about goes viral the day you begin to write yours -ie what happened to me yesterday), my world is shattered. I was distraught, FULL of anxiety, angry, and hopeless. I began to listen to all of the lies of the world and tell myself that I must not be any good, I don’t help any moms, and that what I’m doing is pointless…..That is the trap girls…When we base our self-worth on how well we do and how others approve/disapprove of us, we will never find peace, fulfillment, and our true sense of who we are, and who we were created to be. We’ll either give up and retreat when we see the other moms we perceive to be perfect and think “Well, I’ll never be that good, so why even bother.” OR, we’ll become crazy lunatics who insist on a perfect home, perfect chidlren, etc and push ourselves at all costs up the ladder of “success.” I’ve fallen into both traps….often. It’s not a fun place to be.
So what? So some other blog is getting a lot of press and mine isn’t. Some other mom makes glow in the dark bath soap and weaves her children handmade ponchos on her loom while baking whole grain pita bread. There will always be someone else achieving, doing, chasing dreams. You will watch other women be praised for things that you’re good at too, and may not get the same recognition. You might be at the top of your game. Either way, it doesn’t matter if your head and your heart aren’t clued in to the truth. You are not what others think of you. What the world sees and gives you credit for does not define you. Don’t allow yourself to become discouraged, to give up, or to make yourself crazy trying to be the best, or be “seen” as the best. Just be you. Remember that Imitation is Suicide, and that Facebook Does Not Define You. Don’t do what you’re doing for the accolades…for the praise…for the approval of other moms…Do it because you love doing it….because it helps your children…because it makes you happy…That’s what I’ll be trying to do…
I want to leave you with a song from Tenth Avenue North, “You are More.” Here are a few of the lyrics…
But don’t you know who you are,
What’s been done for you?
Yeah don’t you know who you are?
You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.
This is not about what you’ve done, but what’s been done for you.