Admiring Others, Criticizing Ourselves.

Andrea wrote a great post yesterday (Well, aside from the part where she closed down her store…) about making a clearing. However, the part that stuck out to me the most was the following excerpt:

And then I surf the internet and see what everyone else is doing– the blogs, (how do they write so often?) the Etsy stores, the books published… their pretty houses with dinner on the table every night… and the shame seeps in and the critical voices start howling in my ear. Hurry up, you’re falling behind, you’re blowing it, get your sh*t together…

And then I remember that wait, I am one of those people that others see this way. The superhero character that appears to have it all together, who is doing all that cool stuff (how does she have time for all of that?) and I see how all of these projections are a fiction, something I made up, something we all make up. It is the way we gather evidence, our proof that we are the ones who are not good enough.

I get that SO MUCH. I often cruise these blogs (including hers) and wonder how they do it all. How do they find time to keep such a beautiful home, and how do they know how to make it so beautiful? How do they find time to cook such amazing meals and how did they learn how to do that? How do they write so beautifully and dress so stylishly? How do they keep their eyebrows so groomed and they children so clean? I look at blog after blog (Yes, YOURS TOO) and see something on it that I’m just NOT DOING. And I feel really shitty about that.

But then I think about the other half of what Andrea says. That some people see ME that way. I’ve had plenty of comments and emails asking me how I do it all. I never answer because I don’t know what to say. I either want to say, “I’m not doing anywhere near what I need to be doing…” or I want to say, “Eh…I’m not doing as much as I make it look like I’m doing.” I want to correct them. They are complimenting me and I want to say, “No…no…I’m not worth your praise. But Blogger X,Y, and Z? They are. Look what they’re doing.”

Why DO I do that? Why do I feel like I spend every minute of every day DOING something? And when I do have down time in a day, I criticize myself for it. AndyZ is sleeping and NikkiZ is still at preschool – so I could be doing something like paying bills, or labeling photos, or folding laundry. But I get wrapped up in something on TV and don’t move for two hours. And then…here’s the kicker…I hate myself for it. So, when I run, run, run the other hours of the day – and I’m obviously not going, going going to justify the periodic break – why am I doing it? Why am I constantly doing if I’m not going to let allow myself to have breaks. And if what I’m constantly doing doesn’t make me proud, why am I doing it? Why is it that when I see that YOU made dinner 5 nights in a row, I think you deserve praise and compliments and adoration. Yet, when I do it? I don’t even allow myself some downtime without feeling guilty? Or why don’t I compliment myself more? Or feel PROUD of myself? If I’m going to spend my day DOING THINGS…I should be PROUD of them and of MYSELF, right? Even if it’s just getting the laundry put up for the first time in a month. (What? Don’t you use your laundry room as a closet too?) If I’m going to spend the energy DOING…then I should be PROUD of what I’m doing. And if it doesn’t make me proud…then maybe I should try to find something else to keep me busy.

What do you think? Do you constantly find yourself amazed by other people online yet can’t see yourself in the same glowing light? Do you allow yourself pride in your work? Pride in yourself? Or do you give that pride to other people who are probably struggling with the same things you are?




18 thoughts on “Admiring Others, Criticizing Ourselves.”

  1. It’s easy to forget that our blogs portray us in our very best light, like a scrap book. We don’t post pictures when our brows are unified. We don’t post pictures of kids doing crafts if the background is a sink of dirty dishes. It’s like when you stage your home to sell it. Sure you live there, it’s your stuff but it’s a moment in time snapshot. While you’re very honest that a recipe took you X tries you only post the picture of the final product on a decorated table. In 10 years no one is going to remember that you didn’t pick someone up from school on time. They’re going to remember when you started making those delicious muffins. They’re not going to remember digging through the hamper for the favorite shirt, they’re going to remember being thrown and caught repeatedly by their brother. Cut yourself some slack. You’re doing great.

  2. I do feel that way at times but one of the great things about blogging is that I also see that others fall down in the same way I do. Or others are trying to achieve things I am trying to achieve. SO I guess I take things with a grain of salt.

    I like to read the blogs with people that are funny and self deprecating to fault at times. One of the main reasons I started to even look at blogs, read blogs and eventually write my own blog was because I was seeking solice from others out there in the world because I felt so very lonely. Now I feel less lonely because I know there are others out there like me who are like me.

    And finally at the end of the day I often write about myself and how often I fall down.

  3. I get that too. Someone is doing more than me, handling more than me and doing a better job at it. I’m making my lame uneven little potholders and someone else makes a jaw-droppingly gorgeous celtic-knot afghan.

  4. Catherine,

    I guess that’s kinda my point. When I’m looking from the outside I know all of those things. Why am I so hard on myself is the question and I was just wondering if anyone else looks at themselves so differently than the way they look at themselves. I guess my point is that I don’t follow logic when examining my own life…and just wondering if anyone else does the same.

  5. I wonder if this and the occasional inability to see the blessings in our life for the whining that you talked about early have anything to do with one another… I rather suspect they do.

  6. What a great post. I wrote about it on my blog. But for me, I am proud of so much I do! But I still compare, but I am me and that is all I can do…you should check out my post because I wrote about how you inspried me!

  7. Yes, yes, yes. I do this all. The. Time. Seriously. I compare myself to everyone. I don’t keep as clean of a house. I don’t do craft projects. I don’t know how to do home repairs. I don’t always make delicious dinners. I don’t use my free time to write that brilliant book I have planned. I don’t even update my damn blog every day! Added to all of this, I have PLENTY of time to, because I’m not employed and I don’t have a kid (for another few months, anyway). And I feel horribly useless and lazy.

    Each time I do feel like this, I try to remind myself of all the things I do do (ha ha, do-do), and normally it helps. Or sometimes I heat up a piece of chocolate cake and that always helps.

  8. Yes, I do this too. I am never good enough, I have never done enough, I am never nice enough, I must do more. I have a serious perfectionistic streak, but only when it comes to judging myself. It is okay for others to have struggles, to not get it all done, to need help, but not me. Oh no, never me. I need to be Lynda Carter (sorry if you don’t get that reference, I might be kinda old).
    I think your post is beautiful. It is a reminder that we need to remember our own value. In the hectic pace of praising everyone else, encouraging everyone else, supporting everyone else, it IS okay to not only allow yourself the slow moments, but to praise yourself for the hectic ones as well.

  9. Is “amen” a sufficient comment? Because seriously. Yes. I look at a nap time where all I did was unload the dishwasher, load the dishwasher, start a load of laundry, sweep and mop the kitchen floor as a WASTE of time. Right now I’m thinking of all of the things I SHOULD be doing instead of commenting.

    I don’t know how to make it go away. My husband does the best job at pointing out – hey, you keep a toddler happy, healthy and entertained and keep this house going. Not too bad for a days’ work.

  10. I look at other mom’s who look so put together, write amazingly witty posts, or detail their jam packed days and work out some time in there and think, “Wow, I’m a dork”. But then I’m reminded by friends and my husband that I am one of those moms (well, minus the working out and being put together, lol.) I do a lot and I do it every day. it may not come across in my blogs or what not, but I am just as COOL as the rest of them. I’m still working on coming to terms with my particular style of parenting and living but I can see where you are coming from.

  11. so hard to remember to take care of yourself, so hard to remember that folks like you, so hard to realize that people think you are cool (YOU ARE COOL ZOOT).

    Today someone made me cry with their kindness and I wondered how they could be so thoughtful, and how they could confuse me with someone who was so deserving.

    let’s all hug….:)

  12. I constantly criticize myself, too. But in my case? I really *can’t* take good photographs. I’m *not* working harder to lose the weight. I simply enjoy being lazy on my days off, and don’t know how to make myself change. Of course, people never email me asking how I do it all, either, so it’s not like I’m fooling anyone.

  13. Hmmm, I’m fairly new to the blog-world, but a lot of the blogs I read are written by women who are honest about their struggles – who I can empathize with, laugh with or learn from rather than overwhelm me or make me feel inadequate. Don’t get me wrong, I encounter and measure myself against women daily whose lives I envy or who make me question EVERYTHING I do (or don’t do) in my life – but not so much in the the blog-world. I feel like this is where we have a chance to be open and honest about the “behind the scenes.” I’ve read so many of your posts that have reminded me that we are all human and we’re all learning and processing (motherhood or losing a loved one or finding a work-life balance) together. I feel like blogging does this waaay better than most other platforms, for women and mothers, especially. Sure, I COVET your picture taking skills…and also your ability to share your family and your victories, your struggles and your stories with me, through this medium. But it doesn’t make me insecure as much as it allows me to look at myself and my life and how it relates…and sometimes even give something new a try.

  14. Sigh why do we hate ourselves when we actually spend some down time instead of rushing around achieving stuff. I never thought less of my mother when she sat down with us after school and watched TV. In fact it was a nice ritual. We used to giggle when she fell asleep and gently snored. I am glad that she never brought me up to stress too much importance on having a “perfect home”. We didn’t I guess, stuff broke and stayed broke, furniture was worn but it was a very warm and loving home not a pristine palace where you had to leave your shoes in the hall. My mum preferred to read or hang out with us rather than do housework and I respect that.

    P.s I was impressed a while back when you framed and hanging a bunch of pictures. My walls? Mostly empty and we’ve been here 3 years.

  15. I am constantly amazed by the bloggers who find something to blog about every day (or close to it). It makes me feel as if my life is rather boring or, even more fearful, that my brain cells aren’t firing on all cylinders.

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