I saw a really cute picture of another bloggers kitchen the other day and it made me feel icky because my cabinets are so not pottery barn.
I overthink what others think of me and Im always looking over my shoulder, worried I wont work fast enough or be inspiring enough and lose my place in this race.
I edit most of my social media captions multiple times after posting them and I usually dont get anything right the first time.
Hi, my name is Jordan and Im a recovering perfectionist.
I say recovering because for a long time I used to care so much about looking put together because that was in.
Then, everyone attacked social media for being a pit of comparison so everything swung the opposite direction.
So for awhile, I caught myself trying to prove that I was real and messy because that was in. And I felt the need to prove that my life wasnt perfect (um, whos is?). I felt the need to prove that I was real and relatable and just like everyone else, instead of just being real and how God made me unlike anyone else.
I failed to see that I am just as real when Im having a good hair day as I am when Im a total mess. I didnt realize that I am both real and messy but also real and full of joy, life, and light.
Its not that I dont struggle like anyone else. I do. And Im not afraid to share that reality (I mean, obviously, considering how I started this article off).
But for a long time I believed that people wouldnt like me if I shared the good things in my life.
So, even when I showed the good things, I was SURE to highlight the imperfect parts of them instead of celebrating the real wonderful parts of them, too. I knew how ugly jealousy and comparison could be and I feared being someone people compared themselves toso I set out to prove that I was, normal.Whatever that means.
I tried to hide all the good stuff and focus on the relatable stuff because I was terrified that somebody else might step into the comparison game, point a finger as if Im in the wrong, and say, thats not real.
I know people do it because Ive done it to other people.
But Ive been challenged. Who are we to say someones joy or beauty or life isnt real and legitimate? Isnt that just our inadequacy talking?
The fact of the matter is that I was still being a perfectionist about what I shared and did. I filtered only what I thought people wanted to seeit just looked different from what perfectionism is typically understood to look like. It took the cloak of being real but maybe it was hardly real at all.
Its as if, in some twisted way, I was being perfect about being imperfect and fake about being real.What on earth is that?
But if you think about it, Id bet you have been, too.
Perfectionism and pride arent just reserved for the retouched photos. They take root in the heart and can mask themselves in all sorts of ways.
Its an uphill battle and Ill never tell you that I dont struggle with it (hence, *recovering*). Because I struggled today. Struggling right now.
Maybe you are, too.
So I think its something we ought to talk about because we live in a world so saturated with comparison and competition yet equally saturated with lots of internet whining and cheesy posts that are supposed to be inspirational but not enough LIVING.
And it leaves me wondering,How did we get here? How has it become that one of the modern American girls main griefs has become comparison when people all over the world are hungry every day? How have we come to believe that someone is only REAL if they broadcast the ugly and broken parts of their life on their Instagram? Is there not more to life? Is there not more to the story?
Perhaps there is more to the story. So much more.
This may not be the fluffiest, feel-good post in the world but Im not interested in dancing around it any longer because it needs to be said.
So, from one recovering perfectionist (and also compulsive comparer) to another: My life is not a competitionneither the messy parts nor the marvelous parts are a measurement of my worth. Its all part of my story and I dont have anything to prove with either part of it. Im not interested in one upping anyone or looking like anyone else or proving anything any longer. Instead, I choose to live and be and move and breathe.
Dont get me wrong, Im no robot. Like I said, I let myself fall into comparison, too. And Im shamelessly honest about that. BUT Im done passing on the blame or whining about it. Because that just makes it about myself and not about God. And I truly believe that we need to stop complaining so much and start marching on in doing what matters.
Because we are NOT victims of comparison. And we are not any more or less real because of what we may or may not share on the internet, achieve at work, or put on our resume.
Comparison may sneak up on us but we choose whether or not we give it power.
You have a choice in the matter, too, okay?
All too often, we lock up our hearts and drain them of all their joy all on our own simply because we choose to obsess over something that should be a non issue.
Theres a quote that says, Mother Teresa didnt walk around complaining about her thighsshe had work to do!
The fact of the matter is that thereisa way out. You literally have the key in your hand.
Ill give you a hint: the key is NOT whining on social media or posting more inspirational quotes or more mega honest captions to convince yourself or others of something. Ive tried that. It doesnt work because when youre still trying to prove something, thats not freedom. The key is not whether or not you choose to wear makeup and its certainly not just blaming the enemy.
The key ischoosingsomething better. Because theres power in CHOOSING to live my life instead of choosing to look at everyone elses. Theres power in choosing to declare what I know out loud instead of letting what I FEEL scream on the inside.
Maybe the answer isnt convincing yourself or anyone else of anything but choosing to cheer people on instead. Nothing breaks comparison faster.
I dont think any of us lose when we help each other win. I dont lose beauty points when she looks better than me and I dont lose any ounce of the worth bottled up inside of me when someone else wins what I hoped to have.
And neither do you.
So, heres what Ive recently had to learn as a millennial woman standing int he middle of our weird, social media saturated world: Youve gotta check your heart. Trying to prove that youre real and relatable on the internet can be just as messed up as trying to prove that youve got it all together.
Why? Because thats what sells now. It does. Plain and simple. Its the kind of thing that gets the most likes and comments like, Oh my gosh! Youre just SOO real! Needed this, girl! in the virtual world.
I mean, it makes sensenone of us want to feel like were alone in our imperfections or struggles. And those kind of things make us feel less alone, I get it.
And thats okay but to be honest, your comfort or confidence should not increase because another girl shares her brokenness.
So many women on the internet try to prove that theyre real because they know others will like itnot because its just who they are. I know because Ive done it, too. #guilty #thestruggleisreal
Its like it somehow makes us believe that by sharing these things we wont struggle with comparison anymoreso how is it that comparison is like, the hottest topic on the internet? How is comparison at an all time high? Isnt all the internet transparency and real talk supposed to be cutting that like a knife? I sure thought so. Until I realized it doesnt totally work like that. Until I realized someone else may post something even MORE real or be even MORE relatable and suddenly we feel like we didnt try hard enough.
But how can you try to be real? It shouldnt be something anyone has to prove. Maybe we should just be real, through and through. Otherwise, we all fall into the trap of being perfect about being imperfect and fake about being real.
ICK! How did that get so twisted?
Like I said, its not bad to share glimpses into real life or to be dead honest about some of our struggles on the internet (I mean, hello, I do it, too).
BUT no matter how hard we try to make it real, the internet is not real life. Its not going to be that real. It just isnt.
So, we cant live there. We cant keep trying to prove ourselves there. Dont do it for the gram. Do it for God, okay?
When you let yourself live, when you let yourself be real and totally you through and through, itll be clear to those around you if youre genuine or not.
Take the pressure off of yourself to be so real on the internet and actually live real life. Live for Jesus. Love His people. Your real heart will show through. Because even those *real* photos can only be so real. They arent half as real as sitting across the table from a tear stained, unstaged, and unfiltered face that just really needs a hug.
Theres so much more life in taking the focus off of ourself and how we measure up and channeling that energy into serving God.
I have a quote that says, throw your hair up in a messy bun and go do some Kingdom work.
Notice how this doesnt say, throw your hair up in a messy bun and then try to prove how comfortable with your hair undone. That still makes it about you and proving something.
It says to go do some Kingdom work. In other words, throw it up in a bun, stop focusing so much on how done or undone it is, and channel that energy into doing whatreally matters.
Thats how you beat comparison. Thats how you live a full, real, abundant lifeby living in your purpose and being mission minded.
Because yes, real is a bare face revealing an uneven skin tone and a little bit of yesterdays make up left over. Its crusty lips and hat hair and wrinkly tees and a little of cellulite. Real is tired eyes and messy tables and a series of imperfect moments. I mean, weve all been there. But if were not parading around showing it off in real life, why would we show it off online?
Its one thing to let it be what it is and focus on what matters and another thing to highlight it and focus on it. When we seek affirmation for our mess, we misplace the affirmation we already have in the Messiah.
Weve made real out to mean just the bare face and only the hard and ugly stuff because deep down, we have a hard time accepting others joy and happiness and beauty. We let others joy and beauty make us feel less happy or beautiful. But we dont have to let it. It doesnt impose itself on us, we welcome it in far too often.
Weve become a world that tries to compare both our broken and our beauty and then complain as if comparison attacked us or something. But real is ALSO laughter and love and sunshine and beautiful things, too.
What if we just celebrated the moments as they areinstead of making them look super put together or proving that theyre totally not put together?
We dont need to shame our sisters beauty but we also dont need to shame ourselves when we dont feel so beautiful.
Youre not a victim of perfectionism or comparison and you dont have anything to prove.
So, here are three practical steps you can take to put this to rest TODAY:
1. Get off the internet and be real by living real lifecall someone or hug someone.
2. Send the person you compare yourself to most an encouraging message or admit to them you compare yourself to them and have a discussion about it (my friends and I have done this at times and its SO freeing!)
3. Identify if you are channeling your own negative energy toward someone else simply because they seem better off than you. Then, make a choice. CHOOSE to turn to the Lord and refocus on what matters most. Call that out for what it is and rechannel that energy into something life giving do something to help someone in need, call your mom, or say the prayer below.
Father God, I feel the pressure to prove something right now. I feel like I dont measure up to everyone else. I feel the nasty feelings of comparison creeping up. But I KNOW that Jesus already proved all that there is to prove on the cross. I KNOW you made me unique and real and full of lifejust as I am. I KNOW that the very breath in my lungs is a sign of you living in me. When I compare myself to others, Im making others the standard to live up to when in reality, I know you are the only standard. I invite you to take your rightful place on the throne of my heart. I trust that you are real and good and faithful. I trust that you work out all things for the good of those who love You. So, today, I choose You. I choose Truth over feelings and real over pretending to be real. I choose to live the life youve designed for me instead of longing for the life you designed for someone else. Fill me with Your Spirit and help me march on in what really matters. Amen.
VERSES TO MEMORIZE:
Galatians 6:4-5 Each one of you must examine your own actions. Then you can be proud of your own accomplishments without comparing yourself to others.
1 Timothy 6:6 Godliness with contentment is great gain.
2 Corinthians 10:17 Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.