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?