Curating Confidence

I unfollowed someone on instagram who kinda made me feel bad about myself. On a normal day, with standard exposure to the rest of the world, I feel good about my life. But this girl? Her photos shattered my confidence daily.

I didn’t really know her, she just wrote for an online magazine and so I ended up following her after I liked one of her articles. But whenever she included herself in a photo, she looked stunning. And it wasn’t like she was always made up, sometimes it was her “morning coffee” photos with no makeup and hair in a bun. STILL STUNNING. And…I can deal with that, I know some women are stunning. I’m friends with a lot of stunning women. I’m okay with that. But her boys (ALL BOYS) were always clean and wearing nice clothes, even when playing ball in the yard. THEY NEVER WORE T-SHIRTS! How does that happen? And her casual shots in her home always showed no clutter in the background. And she had a vacation home. And gorgeous bedding and a HEADBOARD. SHE HAD A HEADBOARD. I’ve never had a headboard.

I found myself looking at her photos and then feeling like shit because I never look that nice, my kids are never that stylish, and there’s always tumbleweeds of cat hair rolling in the background of all of my photos.

This is my "just woke up" look.
This is my “just woke up” look.

Sometimes we just have to recognize that some influences are not authentic influences and they set us up with unrealistic ideas of what our lives should look like. This is why I try not to look at magazine covers on the checkout lane. Even the ones that just show pictures of organized pantries. THIS IS NOT REAL LIFE. That cover is not a vision of what my future could look like if only I could afford to shop at Pottery Barn. Even if I could afford to shop at pottery barn my pantry wouldn’t look like that because I just don’t prioritized “make my pantry look nice” anywhere on my domestic “To Do” list. YET! Those covers tend to make me think, But should that be a priority?

My grocery store puts these plastic guards in place if a cover has adult-themed copy or if maybe an outfit is really revealing. (I have no idea who decides what gets covered.) But you know what I want them to shield my eyes from? THE BATHROOM SINK PHOTO. Whose bathroom is that nice and clean?

Just like we’re all trying to reprogram our daughters not to look at the girls in bikinis on magazines as the only definition of physical beauty, I’m trying to reprogram myself from believing that without those cute oven mits from Anthropologie, my home is inadequate.

(Full Disclosure: I totally have beautiful oven mits from Anthropologie. BUT NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO USE THEM. They are for decoration only.)

I find that bullet journaling is the same way. If you dig into the #planneraddict hashtag of instagram, or even #bulletjournal (although we’re a MUCH smaller group) you’ll see all of these days mapped out artistically and I think Wow. Maybe I could make mine that pretty. But then I remember my handwriting is varied and often illegible and my pages are many times filled with random grocery lists or calorie counts. (I don’t count calories most days, but some days I do when I’m just curious.)

Monday. After.
Monday. After.
Tuesday. Before.
Tuesday. Before.

I start my days off with neat and organized lists and pages and I really focus on my handwriting and then as the day progresses (Tuesday’s handwriting is already deteriorating and it’s only 5am) the days get more sloppy and doodles pop up and organization of lists gets thrown out the window.

BUT THAT’S OK.

Some people are always going to be perfectly manicured and their planners are going to look like works of art and their dining room will look like the seasonal cover page for Real Simple. But then the rest of us? The rest of us are even lucky if the dining room furniture is all in the dining room. (The other chairs are more comfy for crafting! Also! The senior citizen dog sometimes has small accidents so the steam mop is always out!)

IMG_9856

Someone recently said that we shouldn’t curate those unattainable influences out of our lives, we should simply teach ourselves as seeing them for what they are and learn not to feel bad about ourselves. The personal trainer with the six-pack abs and the $200 workout outfit should be something we can look at without feeling fat and ugly. But…I’m not that enlightened. Sorry. When I see that girl in her athleta outfit doing yoga with the Manhattan skyline behind her? I look down at my muffin top and my race t-shirt and think I’m gross. So I unfollow the “fitfluential” girl because she doesn’t inspire me. She makes me feel ugly.

In a perfect world we’d all be secure in our messy dining rooms and our scratched out To Do lists and our free workout clothes and we could look at the perfectly coifed and decorated and styled people in our lives as works of art. But very few people are that well-rounded and that secure with themselves. So, if you’re like me? You have to just stop looking too hard at how perfectly folded those hand towels are in that magazine photo. You have to unsubscribe from the website that gives you daily workouts from a perfectly toned brunette. And you have to unfollow the writer on instagram with the seemingly perfect life.

Someday maybe I’ll be enlightened enough, and secure enough in myself, to see those influences and not hate myself. But today is not that day. I want to be proud of myself and if small exposures here and there shake that pride? Then they’re out. Until another day when I’m more secure in my status as Girl Who Spills Something From Every Meal On Her Outfit Every Day.

14 Comments

  • Kathy

    Amen!
    I’ve been starting to do the same thing myself.

    By the way, my initials are KIM and when I was a kid I tried to get people to call me Kim as a nickname. It didn’t stick. (I kept my “maiden” name when I got married.)

    Have a good day!

  • heidi

    Magazines aren’t the thing to get to me because I know they’ve been cleaned and styled to within an inch of life for the photo shoot. It’s the snapshots people post or DIY blogs that kill me. My house is usually picked up (the kids are older now) but I don’t have granite countertops and my cabinets aren’t painted white. While I love my kitchen, it’s not a work of art by any means. I feel like these days your house needs to be “designed” with all the latest trends and eh, just not a priority for me. (Also, my kids usually look like homeless street urchins.)

  • Beth

    This woman has a housekeeper, I guarantee it. The boys would probably rather be in T shirt probably, I have never strived for a magazine picture house. At first it was just cleaner that my Moms home. But that is a low standard (sorry Mom) so I stepped it up to works for us.

  • Karen

    Yes. Yes. Yes. I recently unfollowed some people on Facebook for that very reason. Perfect husbands, perfect children, perfect life. The only “real” life shared were acts of nature like a leaky roof. Oh and I also dropped them because I was SICK of hearing about their favorite universities. My least favorite thing about living in AL is SEC football.

  • Cherie

    Because I am a pretty hippie, outdoorsy, nature-lovin’ gal, I used to read a lot of Waldorf/Montesorri-esque bloggers. They consistently made me feel like shit, because MY kids were never content to play with balls of wool and chunks of wood. MY kids thought that homemade sweaters were itchy and that oddly-shaped homemade crayons had nothing on Crayola. I thought for years that there was something wrong my MY kids. Finally I realized how much I let this fantasized lifestyle into my head. It destroyed my confidence and led me to believe that MY kids weren’t enough, just as they are. I unfollowed them all and since then, I’ve been very conscious of what influences I let into my life.

    It helps.

  • Roberta

    I’ve done that too. I’m pretty much over fashion & shelter magazines. I’m just not interested in them any more because they aren’t real, and life doesn’t look like that. Would I like my house to be neater? Would I like my children to be dressed for more than 5 minutes before spilling something down the front of their clothes? Yes, of course. But that isn’t reality. Life is messy and crazy and also delicious. I want to have time to go for a run, read a book, play with my kids….so other things fall by the wayside. Art projects cover my dining table, toy cars are everywhere, and what in god’s name is that huge sticky spot on the floor? As others have said, one of the reasons I like your blog/instagram etc. is that you post photos of your real house and real self, and it makes me unafraid to do the same – sweaty after a run, messy house, whatever. It’s just life.

  • Katie

    I’m very much a believer in the quote “comparison is the thief of joy”. And sometimes that means eliminating the opportunity for comparison. I love your blog for its realness. Thanks for always being yourself.

  • Betsy

    As others have said, that woman is curating what part of her life she shows you, and guaranteed that’s not the 100% truth. I’m glad you can recognize that seeing her isn’t helping you and un-follow. It’s a healthy response.

    On the flip side, you are pretty amazing. I’ve been reading your blog since pre-Nyoka and you have shown incredibly self-awareness and ability to change things that aren’t working for you. Just look at your fitness level, if nothing else! And the way you talk about teaching your kids about the world is so inspiring to me.

    I say who cares about organized pantries and kids in nice shirts when you can run a 50K and then go home to family dinner with kids who are making the world a better place!

  • Susan

    I am with you. I’ve had to do the same thing, but with real-life friends. Luckily, I can hide posts on Facebook without “unfriending” someone I actually like. I hope these women won’t notice I unfollowed them on Instagram, because I don’t want to hurt their feelings. But, I had to. Really. One of my college friends turned into a fashion designer/lifestyle blogger/DIY homemaker/travel enthusiast, and I can’t. I can’t look at her lovely photos. She may feel the same way about my lovely photos of kids, though. I never looked to see if she followed me on Instagram, and I probably shouldn’t. She has something I don’t have, and I have something she doesn’t have. I think it’s okay to protect ourselves from these inadequate/jealous feelings. On a good day, I’ll look up my friends’ photos and see what they’re up to. Other days, it’s better that they’re automatically hidden.

  • Rachel

    a long time ago I unfollowed a popular blogger on Instagram because all of her pictures were always gorgeous and it made me feel bad. Like how does she do that with her phone? However I do love looking at home magazines and styled rooms. I read a home design blog (ok she blogs about motherhood and other things too) and she’s written a lot about the behind the scenes process of styling a room for a shoot. Seeing how much work goes into that and knowing that no one lives with a room perfectly styled makes me feel better about all the random toddler toys scattered around my house.