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Sunday, April 28, 2013

don’t compare your insides to somebody’s outsides

 

Bloglovin3saintgertrude.blogspot

photo: saintgertrude.com

This post really began with Rondell.

Whenever I get a comment from someone I don’t know I like to click on to their name to find out if they have a blog too. And if so, I’ll stop by to get a sense of who they are and maybe leave my own comment on their blog. I just think it’s a nice courtesy.

But when I went to Rondell’s blog I was surprised by what I read. Apparently she was taking a break from blogging because “its starting to be not fun,” and as an explanation she provided THIS link which of course I read.

I’m so glad I did too, because Liz Cowan’s words were like a cool, refreshing drink of truthfulness.

Do you ever read words that feel like they could be coming straight out of your own mouth?

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Well that’s how I felt after reading this post about the ugly side of blogs. It’s an important message from a blogger that has purposefully chosen not to display followers or comments on her blog. And who loves blogging now that she’s made these changes.

The interesting thing is, several weeks ago I was reminded that we’re all vulnerable to comparing ourselves to others and feeling worse. In fact, I almost gasped when my fabulously successful blogger friend told me she sometimes felt like “throwing up all over her blog,” and confessed to the same doubts about her content and her writing that I had.

But wait.

What about her thousands of faithful followers?

She pointed to her giveaways and humbly questioned their dedication (as a faithful reader of her blog I know this is not true).

However the point is this.

Depending on our mood, it’s easy to look over at someone else’s life and only see the rosy glow of happiness.

It’s easy to swiftly assess what someone has…

 

Tons of blog comments

A mass of admiring blog followers

A pretty face

A funny writing style

A slender body

A beautifully decorated home

A cosmopolitan lifestyle

 

…and wonder what’s wrong with you.

But the truth is… a blog is not real life.

Blogging is merely a slice of the life we choose to display to the world. And it’s important that we don’t get confused.

Blogs are actually a constructed image that depends solely on the blogger’s editing. Think about that. Our readers see and read only the parts of our lives that we choose to disclose and even when we offer glimpses into our deeper selves, we select the shadows we want to illuminate.

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Yes, there are those who write fearlessly from their heart, shining a light on even the painful, gritty parts of their world. Those bloggers who show us their struggles and allow us to feel a kinship with their humanness.

But there are certain blogs that are reliable for their brand of beautiful, frothy images. Blogs that we visit for their pretty pictures and their brand of happiness, the kind of gorgeous distractions from real life that I crave at certain moments.

The problem is not this brand of light banter and visual beauty.

The key is realizing that what we’re seeing in front of us is not the whole story; and the question is whether we’re gullible enough to believe that this always-happy-perfect-looking world really exists. As a visitor to a blog we should know we’re stepping into a world where behind-the-scene clutter, kid problems, and painful insecurities are carefully scripted. We may not always see the thread of imperfection that binds us together.

So you should be careful when you’re blog hopping. Be wary of making assumptions about a blogger’s entire life simply from the glimpses you have from her posts.

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Because it’s so tempting to visit a blogger and swoon over the artfully styled photographs of her home and believe that’s how it always looks.

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It’s easy to read well written posts by faceless women and imagine their life is filled only with romantic interludes and fascinating travels.

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One minute we’re gazing at a white linen couch on a design blog and the next second we’re filling in the missing pieces of this perfect picture with a handsome husband who cleans after himself and never leaves the toilet seat up, and children who eat dinner in a sparkling clean kitchen with matching napkins and fresh flowers on the table. A world without bills that need to be paid and laundry that’s piled on the floor.

Only the dangerous part of this idealized fantasy world we imagine, is that it ultimately makes us feel worse about ourselves. As women, as mothers, as bloggers, as writers.

This is what I got from reading the post at Mabel’s House. No, there weren’t any crescendo crashing words that I hadn’t heard before, but her post reminded me that the minute we begin to make comparisons,

of ourselves,

of our blogs,

of our kids,

of our homes

we invite discontent into our lives. Because comparing ourselves to others instantly distorts our own worth. Either we feel worse about ourselves (after comparing ourselves to an illusion)

or we feel temporarily better after having ranked somebody beneath us on some fake, arbitrary scale in our heads. Either way it’s mental trickery, it’s not real.

But this is real:

The act of making comparisons robs us of the chance to feel gratitude for what we have.

Comparisons steal our joy.

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photo: hemingwayandhepburn.com

 

Does blog hopping ever make you feel worse about your own blog?

 

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I’d  love to hear your thoughts.

 

(p.s. I think you’re amazing)

 

xoxo

Leslie

 

I’m sharing this post with these friends:

 

 

30 comments:

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

This is such an amazing post. I so agree with you. We all have our good days, bad days and all the in betweens. We have all had setbacks, tragic events and super fantastic experiences. It's just a jumble of all of that that keeps me blogging. I have shared some of each, and I love the honesty of most of the blogs I read. Most of all, I so appreciate that most everyone is blogland is supportive no matter what you blog about, so to me, that lets me know there really are more wonderful people than not, so I just keep blogging.

I loved this post. Hugs, marty

Dayle @ A Collection of This and That said...

I think we can all relate to this, on some level. I wish it were not so, for that's when people, and especially women, start to doubt their own abilities and talents. They start to think, Am I the only one who argues with my husband, who yells at my kids when the day has been long, who leaves dishes in the sink overnight? The comparison game is one you will always lose.

As someone who has written for the last 25 years, I attempt to open my front door and say, "Come on in; here's what's going on." I try to write in an honest way, while not imposing on another's privacy. But you're right. There are probably those bloggers who only share the beautiful and, in a way, that's a good thing (we all need beauty), yet it can come across as phony.

I think the way to ward off feelings of discontent, when viewing the perfectly staged photos of others, is to remember we're all human; we share similar struggles, heartaches, joys, tears. And even though a blogger may not choose to reveal her inner strife, her burdens and battles, it doesn't mean she has a perfect life. We all know better, because we're all part of this thing called life that can thrill us one minute, and leave us flat on our face the next.

So, when I look at gorgeous blogs, I do so knowing that things are seldom what they seem. And if they are, well hallelujah!

April said...

Yes, yes, yes. This has been bothering me a lot lately, and my blog is still so new (only 4 months old). I am feeling lost, trying to figure out what my niche is, what my mission is, and what I want this blog to be -- and then praying that it's glorifying God at the same time. I have written a post asking if anyone's even reading, because most of the time (aside from the few who regularly comment - and boy do I love them for that) I feel like I'm just talking to myself. Liz's words about how comments become the barometer of our blog is so true. I feel like an utter failure when I get 0 comments... or 1 comment that has nothing much to do with the post at all. I pour my heart into my posts, and then start tearing myself down when it feels like they're getting nowhere. All day today I have felt like ditching the whole shebang - and if I hadn't just bought the Intentional Blogger eBook from Christian Mommy Blogger, I probably would have... but that investment has kept me from throwing in the towel. I wonder if there's a place for yet another Christian blogger... and I wonder what I can offer that isn't already out there... I wonder if my words will ever reach the number of people I wish they could... and then I wonder if my words are even worth throwing out there for people. I'm told that my readers like that I'm so real and honest and candid in my posts... but it's hard when I don't know who's reading, if anyone. I get a wee bit envious of the folks who have 15+ comments on every single post, when all they're blogging about is fluff, reviews, and giveaways that make them like so many other bloggers... and then I wonder if I'm doing something wrong. Sorry for the novel. I needed this post, and I needed to vent. I could really use a bloggy mentor ;) Hope you're having a great weekend!

Art and Sand said...

I literally made 7 different attempts at a comment on your post. You make me think, and I was actually already thinking on these lines this morning.

So I will just say, "another great post" and leave it at that because my responses just seemed too lame.

Oh, there I go comparing myself.

Seriously, I tried 7 times and I am just going to hit publish.

Danni Baird @ Silo Hill Farm said...

Well said.

Pam said...

There are times when I totally step back from visiting other blogs. Right now I'm in one of those phases, just to save my own sanity. I know the blogs with the perfectly staged photos (you know with the cup of tea with the spoon placed just so and the newspaper placed on the table in the perfect place) probably don't mean to be disheartening, but right now I find them phony and shallow and I feel myself being snarky in my head to them. So I step back and quit visiting.

BTW, I used to follow a blog of a woman who had perfectly mannered, beautiful kids, a wonderful husband and they lived in a spectacular home. Turns out she photoshopped the heck out of her children's photos to make them cuter, her husband had been arrested for domestic violence and her house was repossessed (all while she was still blogging about her wonderful idyllic life). I try to remember that when I get too envious of another's blogger's life. It's rarely as portrayed.

Something Nice and Pretty said...

What a breath of fresh air your post is...maybe I should write more about "me" but I've always been a private person and that is so hard to break out of, of course I always think that people just wouldn't be interested in hearing about my life.
As Danni said "Well said".

Leslie said...

Wonderful Leslie and I appreciate your being so candid and honest. I'll look forward to reading the links you've provide. You are right on.. no one lives a perfect life. We ALL struggle and have "those days" ..

Bloggers are generally a supportive crowd. We all have a "brand" ~ our readers know (as you say) when they visit they see or read something in particular. I like to have my blog be a happy place. I generally don't get too wordy although I have published a few thought-provoking pieces. Blogging comes down to honesty and being who you are. It's not about numbers or making money. It IS a great way to meet wonderful women. We tend to gravitate to those that we have something in common with.

So glad to have met you Leslie!
xxleslie

Jill Flory of Sew a Fine Seam said...

Great post Leslie! I needed this today - I've been having a struggle with my self image this weekend. I went to a Mom/Daughter conference wtih a group of friends and their daughters and I felt more and more inadequate as the weekend went on. I HAVE compared myself with others and I always come up lacking when I do that. And when you start comparing with other bloggers it gets so much worse! You are so right - we are all showing just a portion of ourselves and our lives no matter how transparent we try to be and how many 'real life' posts we put up. Thanks so much for posting this - it seems I need constant reminding to not compare my blog or myself with others! Hope your weekend has been a good one - I love your blog and you too!

Lori said...

AMEN. Really ~ there is not much more to say. I was disheartened I would say a year ago and had an email conversation back and forth between another blogger than I have grown close to over the years. We talked about the perfect homes ~ the ones that show the perfection and you know what ~ I don't go there anymore... I really do not want to go somewhere and feel badly about our home. I will go places for inspiration and ideas ~ but I have opted out of the here is my home ~ isn't it beautiful. I have added Mabels House to bloglovin feed and can't wait to sit down and read some more of her posts. I always said that if this little spot of mine was going to feel like work ~ I would give it up. I know mine is just fluff ~ but I so enjoy putting it all together and putting it out there. Happy Sunday Leslie ~ and thank you for yet another thought provoking post. xo

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

This is such a beautifully written post as is the one you linked too. I think blogging, as in so many aspects of life, lends itself to comparison. Sometimes I struggle to find my niche as they say and then I think to myself...who am I kidding. My niche is me, I am unique, my life, travels, experiences are unique to me, therefore I offer a different perspective than someone else.

I write my blog for me, then to keep my family up to speed on what I am doing, I also write it to keep my mind occupied and learning. I wish I was thinner, but when I was I starved myself to get there, and my hair fell out and I was sick. I wish I took better photos, but then I think of how far I have come since I started.

I have since a cancer scare last year tried to focus on the positive. I am blessed! I have traveled the world since I was little. Some people will never do that.

I have a fabulous education, from a few of the top schools in the country. Ok I did not finish my Phd, but I almost did. At least I have a Masters, some will never be able to get an education.

I have a fabulous family, my mom is a breast cancer survivor of 30 years. My brother has been to Afghanistan and Iraq and back more than once.

I am blessed!!!

Thank you for the reminder that we are all ENOUGH!!!

Have a great week, xxelizabeth

Di said...

Well said Gwen. Yes,I have gone down that road and thought I should change, but I try to stay true to myself. We all have things we are good at, excel at and hopefully pass that on to others.
I enjoy getting ideas from others and feel that the bloggers I follow, I truly learn from them. I celebrate, cry and pray for them.
Do I get envious, sure but I am so grateful to know that I am extremely blessed with my family, job and freedom. When I get envious, I pray to be thankful for what I have. I really can say I am happy when people have beautiful things to share because I get to enjoy. I am just happy they can't see in my messy house those days that the bed isn't made or look at my office with papers all over the place.
Thank you for letting me go on and on. Di@Cottage-wishes...because you see I do still wish!

Barbara Bussey {The Treasured Home} said...

It's so nice to have a person "in the house" with such a wise understanding of what makes us all tick.

Yes, comparisons do steal our joy! I used to lecture my kids about comparing themselves to others, but I do it myself, here in blogland and amongst the retailing world here in humble Sacramento.

I've had my shop for six months and compare and berate myself, against those who have been in the business for decades. Why can't I just celebrate their knowledge and talent?

I thought about posting a blog, last week, of my home, how it really is. In the three rooms we really use...laundry on the floor. A bed unmade. Mail, paperwork, unfinished business on our overloaded kitchen counter! Maybe I'll go ahead and do it. Not maybe...I'll do it this week. I'll probably repost some or all of this blog and add my own thoughts. We should all have a week of "real life" photos! Wouldn't that be a hoot!?

Hugs,
Barbara

Gypsy Heart said...

A perfectly amazing, timely post! You write so beautifully and share the most appropriate photos and I always feel better after visiting.

I've done the comparison thing at times and it's true, it makes one feel yucky. IMHO, there is no perfect home 24/7, no marriage that doesn't have a few "discussions", kids do act out, cakes fall, gardens burn up and $$$ is not always there.

I treasure the bloggers that are "real" ~ those are the blogs I love to visit. There are HUGE blogs out there and yet one never receives a response from a comment. I want to stay in touch when someone has taken their precious time to stop by and then leave kind words.

After a short time blogging, I still don't know what I'm doing! :) I'm not focused on any one thing ~ not DIY projects, or food or decorating constantly but I just try to communicate.

Thank you so much for this wonderful post! I truly enjoy this time of blogging. :)

xo
Pat

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

This is such a great post! Each of us is on our own path...I don't want to travel another person's journey. I just write about what I want to share...

The Divorced Lady's Companion to Living in Italy said...

An uplifting post (as usual!) and I liked these links. I think I follow different blogs for different reasons, and sometimes I do feel like chucking it all in. I don't really look at other blogs to compare myself to others, rather to have a laugh or be inspired or because I'm enjoying the connection. When the pressure is on - or you perceive that it is - I think it's time to rethink what you are aiming for in your blog, and that this in any case needs to be done every six months, a rewiring of objectives. I'm very aware that a blog is a partial and selective view - who would want to read about my life? - and that I pump up certain factors. I love your blog Leslie because it is calming and honest, makes me look at my day/house in a different way. Xcat

Custom Comforts said...

I so agree with your post. I was so discouraged with blogging at the end of last year that I was ready to shut down. Felt like it wasn't worth all the pressure to "be as good and creative" as everyone else, especially since blogging can be so much work and take so much precious time. Then I changed my format and now I enjoy it. Don't get many comments, but it's not about the comments anyways. I can still be creative creating collages and post pictures that I hope will cheer someone's day with out all the pressure of having to have a perfect house, garden, life, pictures, or project to share. It lifted such a weight and brought the joy back. Thanks for sharing your truthful thoughts, they mean a lot, especially to those of us without huge and famous blogs and full time jobs.
Cindy

Heather - New House New HOme said...

You are spot on! When I started my little blog project it was for my family and friends to see how our new life was going - they couldn't see the new house or the new town we were living in, so I thought a blog would be a great way of telling them. Quickly though, it became much more than that and I had followers who didn't know me or my life. And the blog became more than I bargained for. Suddenly I was feeling compelled to post daily. And coming up with something new and exciting daily became a challenge and a burden. So this past February, I took a break. Decided to stop worrying about how many follwers I had and started focussing in on what I was actually doing. I stopped creating posts just so I could post. Now if it's a week between posts, I'm fine with that. If I don't have something to say, why say it.

One good friend recently said to me "I see your life on the blog, but how are you REALLY doing with your new life?". How am I really doing? Fine, thank you.

an anglo in québec said...

Well first off I am actually bugged by the idea that blogging does trigger a certain competitiveness in some people. That very same feeling that I recall from high school can play out in our adult lives with our treasured blogs. It really is unfortunate as blogging can expose our more vulnerable sides. We open our homes to strangers, let them peer through our doors at the choices we have made in design or other areas that have brought us a sense of pride and we risk criticism or sneering or...well being unaccepted.

There seems no way of avoiding that. I have tried to learn to laugh as I plug along with my own blog. I have been blogging for 4 years and I still have under 200 followers...if that means anything.

I know that some might have counseled me to give it up but that is really not what it is all about for me. I am not out to be the most popular or the most visited. I am out there to connect with people wherever they may be. And hey, if people drop by and don't like what they see then they can move on. That is okay with me. I smile when I am once again given a blogger award, knowing that it goes out to new bloggers with less than 200 followers. I find myself thrown into a list of bloggers that are fresh and new and excited by the award. I smile because that particular blogger has connected with me perhaps and usually we have had several exchanges by email and usually they are trying to pay me a compliment. Funny thing is, when I started blogging I wondered when I would ever get an "award" and now I laugh as it has become my own personal little "inside" joke.

I hope this person comes back to their blog. Life is not perfect and as you have written, it can merely be a glossy facade which shields a very basic and sometimes boring reality. We all have that. Those that don't probably crave that.

Well put Leslie, as always. I love your honesty and that my blogging friend is why I drop by to visit.

Oh and your kitchen makes me smile....ALOT. I do picture it messy as I imagine you are just like the rest of us....out there living life. :)

Vickie @ Ranger 911 said...

You've pointed out one of the dangers of blogging. It's easy to get caught up in all the hoopla and forget about what's important in life. When I start to feel out of the loop as blogger who works long hours outside of our home, I step away for awhile and come back with a "spring in my step".

Wonderful post Leslie!

Ms Lemon of Make Mine Lemon said...

Well, this was fun. I just had this conversation with myself two weeks ago. I don’t suffer from blog envy, and I am grateful for that. What I do suffer from is being unsure if I am going in the right direction. Am I doing this right? I worry that everyone knows I am committing a faux pas but me. I see where others throw themselves out there and I am good with that. I do to an extent, but I have family that did not sign up for this so I do the best I can and still tell my short stories.

I hope people enjoy my blog, but more importantly it has been therapy for me. For just under 500 words I feel content. I made lemon bars; they loved it. I blogged this week about making homemade Worcestershire sauce. No one cared, but that is ok, I am blogging about pasta next week and hope they like it, but if they don’t I will still feel better and I think they just missed out on something good. teehee.

Now if I could just figure out this darned facebook thing.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I really enjoyed reading this. My very very first thought was...no my blog is really a true representation of my life! And it is...BUT...I don't share my 'problems' much or hurtful things from the past. I have a wonderful life NOW and I share that. Some readers think nothing bad has ever happened to me. Someone actually wrote that to me one time. I don't dwell on the past but I've had my share of troubles. I'm glad I can blog about my happy life NOW! You gave us plenty to think about! Sweet hugs to YOU!

Down to Earth Style said...

Oh boy is there another side to my blog. I don't share the ugly, there would be too much. I don't always share when I am down or when my laundry is taking up my entire upstairs hallway because my blog is about inspiring creative home decor. Funny thing is, I love to read blogs and posts like this that actually come straight about these feelings bloggers have. I feel strange putting too much "personal" stuff out there so publicly - part of the "perfect" side we see is not "hiding" the real story necessarily but trying to be upbeat and staying on subject, which for me is home decor. I love reading all sorts of posts - this one is a good one and thank you for the honesty. Always a pleasure to read you so well written posts.

Down to Earth Style said...

PS...my husband looked at our home tour on my blog once and said "When was our house ever that clean?" - not all on the same day, of course! Silly!

Lisa @ Texas Decor said...

I loved this post! Comparison really is the thief of joy, isn't it? I'm a new blogger and I've promised myself that I won't be concerned about followers, comments, etc. I don't even have Google Friend Connect on my blog. :) I'm not on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. I've gotten so many great ideas from other blogs over the years, that I decided to start my own in hopes of possibly "giving back" a little. Hopefully my little blog will inspire someone just like I've been inspired by other blogs through the years. Anyway, great post! I think we all need to remember that sometimes, we are only seeing the "pretty" side of life on blogs. :)

Ginger Zuck said...

WOW! I could not have said it any better! or at all. I have struggled the past several months because of life happenings I have had little to no time to blog. I felt like I should just quit and stop. I love it so and miss it, but it is not my life and does not always or very seldom come at the top of my priority list, but I felt guilty! I finally got over it and now I blog because I want to when I have the time.

Eve said...

I am thankful that I have not seen the ugly side of blogging personally. I don't take blogging/what I read too seriously that it can effect who I am. I go to blogs for fun and for inspiration and to connect with kindred spirits. We must keep our perspective of what is really going on here. If blogging can bring you down, my advice is not to blog. It's not worth it. As bloggers our aim should be to build others up.

Leslie Harris said...

Hi Eve, thank you for taking the time to read this post and share your view. The “ugly side of blogs” that Liz Cowan was referring to and the message that inspired my post does not have to do with bloggers bringing other bloggers down in any intentional way. The message of her post was really about us. As women. And how easy it is to compare ourselves to others, especially women we admire. In blogging (just as in real life) it’s easy to see women who appear to have some ‘perfect’ life and to admire that illusion. And then to feel worse about ourselves. My message is that blogs are only a slice of someone’s life, and that we should be careful not to idealize someone based on their blog. Because the truth is, everyone has struggles and difficulties and bad days, there is no “perfect.”

Her message that we both seem to agree on, is that if blogging makes you feel bad in any way, it’s good to take a step back and regain your perspective.

Jaybird said...

For me, blogs are like magazines with a story. I cry with y'all and laugh with you, and just think of everyone as my "invisible friends" (a term stolen from my sweet husband! I get ideas that will work for me and sigh over the ones that I will never be able to afford, BUT I am old enough and wise enough to know the difference, so I just enjoy "things" through your eyes!! Many thanks to you and all of the bloggers who take such time to make MY day more enjoyable!
Blessings,
J

At Rivercrest Cottage said...

I found your blog by blog-hopping today, and so glad I did. As you can see I've read all the way from today (july 25th) to here. This post I needed today, which is to say comparing myself to others is a bitch today! Sometimes just comparing myself to my old self hurts too. Thanks for your insight. Love your writing. 'Grateful to have read your blog' will go in my gratitude journal tonight!

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