letting our online personas validate our self-worth

So…who else around here posts photos online (whether it be Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter) specifically for the likes? I know I’m guilty of it.

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With so many beautiful or fun or successful posts floating around, it can be hard not to get jealous of other people’s lives. I have a Facebook friend (someone I knew in college) who lives in Germany and spends his time posting pictures of him in every country I wish I could visit. In the meantime, Dom and I are at home struggling to find a weekend to travel a couple hours for a small weekend getaway. I have friends whose kids are forever dressed to the nines, friends who have amazing, bright, airy Instagram photos, and friends who look so put together that I’m left looking down at my yoga pants and running my hands through hair that hasn’t been washed in two or three days.

All I can think is this: How could I not be jealous? If the photos of their lives are this great, clearly they are living a thousand times better than I am.

When I feel this way, I end up trying to take a photo with a goal of getting X amount of likes, or I tweet knowing good and well that I’m only doing it so people will notice.

It’s exhausting.

I recently read a business-related blog post about developing your Instagram to reflect an image you love. For example, if you’re all about black and white images, you only post those. Do you love bright, airy, floral photos? Don’t post anything that doesn’t fall into that specific category. It helps you create your look or feel, so to speak, and it makes for more likes, comments, and followers.

For business purposes, it’s a great idea. After all, you want your business to have a certain style. This helps bring in new clients, maintain your image, and keep those followers we know and love.

But isn’t it also sort of fake?

I love the idea of having an online presence that is beautiful, catches the eye, and makes you wish you could jump right into the photo…but it’s not real. It doesn’t reflect that maybe you’re having a rough day, the weather is terrible, you spilled coffee on your pajamas that you haven’t changed out of (and it’s now 11:15 in the morning), or that your toddler is just being inconsolable. It’s not the truth—it’s just an image. It’s a way of getting likes, making yourself feel better, and building your self confidence.

You see the crappy morning you’re having and you decide to post a photo that is shared specifically to make you feel better about your life.

I’m not saying we should all go around complaining about how hard our lives are; after all, nobody wants to read that. I get aggravated by Facebook whiners as much as the next girl, but I also think we shouldn’t let what our online personas say about us to be a way to validate our self-worth.

I think we should embrace our homes, family, and friends, messy flaws and all. We should stop buying things just because they would look good in an Instagram photo with the Mayfair filter. We should stop letting 50-100 likes on an image make us feel better about our real lives, and we should start focusing on feeling comfortable with our yoga pants, dirty hair, and toddler who is still rocking pajamas at three in the afternoon.

The wonderful people we are comes from how we treat others, how much we care for our friends and family, and the ways in which we make our loved ones happy…not the fact that last week, fifteen people retweeted us discussing our workout or talking about how totally amazing our husbands are.

Enjoy your life for how much you love it, not how much others do. In the end, it’s all that really matters.

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Filed under Life, Social Media

learning to say no

I have a really hard time saying no to people. Like my friend Shannon (who seems to have figured out the solution before I have; see number 20), this is something I need to work on.

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Whether it’s an invitation to lunch, a play date, a visit, or a favor, I really struggle with telling people no when they ask me for something I’m not interested in. Even if it’s something I really don’t want to do, it’s hard for me to let people down. It’s hard for me to tell them to ask someone else; to look elsewhere; to try again in a week.

I often feel like I owe people something even if we hardly ever interact. Even when people have done me wrong, I wind up feeling sorry or guilty or pressured to agree to things I don’t really want to do. This, of course, leads to different issues all together; I say yes to something, want to cancel, and wind up looking flakey. I get frustrated. I get mad. I get to thinking about it later and realize how ridiculous the whole scenario is.

Why do we always feel like we have to say yes? Why do we think we have to attend dinners we don’t want to go to, answer texts from people we don’t want to talk to, and forgive those who we don’t want to forgive? Why can’t we just own it and tell them no? Even if we want to say no because we don’t feel like leaving the house that day, why is this not okay?

From now on, I’m going to practice my right to turn things down. I think it’s something we all need to learn. It would probably lead to fewer cancellations in the future, less anxiety, and more freedom to do what we want…or to do nothing at all.

Which is often exactly what I want to do.

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Filed under Thoughts

currently | may

It’s May! In North Carolina, this means it’s basically summer…which also means it’s pool time! We just got back from a gorgeous vacation in Charleston, SC (I’ll share those photos later), and I wanted to share my current favorites/things I’m doing this month.

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LOVING: This month already. Dom finishes a course he’s been in since January and has a break afterwards…that will be almost four months long! Isla and I are so excited to have him at home for so long. It’s going to be an awesome summer!

READING: A lot of my clients’ work. I’m currently reading and editing Shooting Eros by Benjamin Laskin. Absolutely addicted. It’s a good one–awesome characters, fantasy elements, and such an interested storyline. Check it out! For more of my favorite books, follow me on Goodreads!

WATCHING: The Following (as usual). We are also watching Secrets and Lies which I’m ADDICTED to. Is anyone else watching this? I totally saw it coming with Jess. Huge twist. Also, does anyone else love her voice as much as I do?

ANTICIPATING: June! We are taking short trip to Asheville after we attend a wedding Georgia. Dom and I have been wanting to visit Asheville since we moved here and somehow haven’t found the time (or the funds) until now. We’ve driven through it on our way back from Nashville and fell in love for the few short minutes we spent there. Airbnb to the rescue! We can’t wait to visit.

LISTENING TO: Echosmith on repeat. I love “Bright.” I’m also really into Twenty One Pilots right now and “Electric Love” by Borns.

PLANNING: Family getaways and fun events this summer. Nothing too crazy, but I’m looking forward to beach trips, Asheville, and visiting one of my best friends who is due with her first baby—a little boy—in July!

WORKING ON: A whole lot of book editing. This is one of my favorite jobs to do as a freelancer. I love connecting with authors and watching their work come to life.

WISHING: I had unlimited funds for unlimited vacations, but who isn’t wishing for this?

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Filed under Monthly Favorites, Updates

balance

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Life lately has been productive. Fulfilling. Packed to the minute. I feel so fortunate to finally be working from home and doing what I love. The freedom of freelancing–in addition to how much I love writing–makes it easy for me to feel so lucky and so grateful that I’ve found my niche. That being said, I love what I do so much that I’ve found it can easily move from business into my personal life if I’m not careful.

Of course, there are days when working at night is necessary. There are times when deadlines are right around the corner and I’ll be behind if I don’t play catch-up after dinner. I balance working from home with taking care of Isla (and the house, the dogs, etc.) so that makes for a tight daytime schedule. I’ll be the first to admit, however, that the more I work, the more money I make, and that’s always nice. (This, I’ve found, is one of my favorite things about freelancing that I didn’t experience in the world of marketing.)

Despite all of this, I need to be sure my work life isn’t creeping too far into my personal life. Some people are proud of working 80+ hour weeks; I’m not one of them. I love working now that I’ve found something so enjoyable and perfect for me, but I love my family more.

I think it’s important to set not only professional goals but also personal ones, and this is something I know I need to practice more. This means scheduling for evening walks with Dom and Isla, working out during the day, and keeping my laptop shut on Sundays unless absolutely necessary. It means really appreciating each and every moment I have while Isla is little and Dom isn’t deployed.

Life is crazy for everyone. We all manage our time in different ways, but I think I speak for everyone when I say that balance is important, and we could all use a little more of it.

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Filed under Thoughts

my newest hellogiggles post is up!

Do you sometimes wish you could go back in time? Me too…if only to tell my 15-year-old self a few things.

Check out my post 15 things I wish I could tell 15-year-old me over at HelloGiggles!

What would you say?

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Filed under Business

what do you love?

TALK TO YOURSELFLIKE YOU WOULDSOMEONE-2

I recently wrote an article for work, and while I was doing research, I came across something that’s really changed my perspective. I can’t remember where I saw it (though if I find it, I’ll post the source), but it said something along the lines of, “Never say anything about yourself that you wouldn’t say to your sister, mother, or your best friend.” And it had me thinking.

I’m part of an accountability group on Facebook with Beachbody coaches and new Internet friends who are on a journey to change their body, their health, and, in turn, their lives. They log on every morning and post what their day was like before, and they spend the rest of their days eating well, working out, and filling their bodies with fresh water. We often share “sweaty selfies” either as proof of working out or as a way to show how hard we are working. We encourage and motivate each other in the evenings and put out the reminder that with hard work, the results will be worth it.

When I scroll through the group, I sometimes catch myself jealous of my friend Maja’s incredible, flat stomach or so-and-so’s perfectly tones arms or another so-and-so’s amazing, makeup-free skin. Of course, I admire their hard work and their clean eating, but it’s so hard not to be jealous of the body you wish you could attain immediately. I try not to fall into this trap often, but I’m just as guilty as the next woman of comparing myself and picking apart the different parts of other women’s bodies and wishing I could simply switch them out with my own as easily as I change my clothes or style my hair.

But then I remember that quote. And I think about my daughter, Isla. And I realize I don’t want her to say things about her body that she would never say to me; to her future sibling; to her best friend.

It seems so innocent to say we hate our thighs or wish so badly that our butt wasn’t flat or that we don’t understand why we just can’t get our shit together. But it’s not innocent. Remember “Mean Girls” talking about girl-on-girl crimes? Well, it still counts if you say it about yourself. You’d never tell your sister that she should really do some squats or tell your best friend that her arms look huge in that Facebook photo. You’d never tell your daughter that her body is just a total disaster. Ground Zero. An unfixable mess. So why do we say it to ourselves?

It needs to stop.

april 22

I posted this photo of myself—makeup-free, unedited, gross and sweaty from my workout, and totally vulnerable with my least favorite part of my body, my stomach, on display—to the Facebook accountability group this morning. After my c-section a little under a year and a half ago, there’s loose skin that I wish was tighter and stretch marks where I wish there was perfect skin, but there are things I can’t change and things I can. So while I learn to eat better and exercise more, I’ve realized I can be a little gentler with myself. I don’t have to talk about the things I hate, but rather, I can talk about the things I like. My stomach may not be close to “perfect,” but I have a core strong enough to hold difficult yoga poses. I may not be the strongest person who can run the furthest distance, but my petite frame never tires of holding my daughter, and I don’t get exhausted from playing with her for hours on end.

We all have something we love about ourselves, so let’s focus on that. What do you love?

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Filed under Isla, Personal

my article was published on hellogiggles!

Hi everyone!

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I’m super excited to announce that an article I wrote exclusively for HelloGiggles was published this morning. You can check it out here, and I’d love it if you would. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Cheers!

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