Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Playing the comparison game

It started over the weekend.  Rich was looking for a movie to watch Saturday night on the Fire Stick.  My attention was half focused on my laptop and the 80 something photos of fourth graders that needed to be edited.  He gave up and chose something with Gwyneth Paltrow based on the ratings.  "Ugh.  Not a fan," I commented.  The movie was blah so we quickly changed it to What's Eating Gilbert Grape because Johnny Depp.  AND it's a really good movie.

The next day, as I'm hurriedly unloading my groceries at the checkout counter, I spot Gwyneth on the cover of Women's Health magazine.  Have you seen it?  She's wearing a red bikini and written next to her abs is the statement "Get. Her. Abs.  Just 3 moves."  Does anyone, especially in this day and age, actually believe that three abdominal exercises completed three times a week will actually give them abs that look like Gwyneth's?  A celebrity.  Who I bet has a personal trainer.  Who I bet has a maid.  Does anyone actually believe that Gwyneth is scrubbing her own toilets and bathtubs?  

I scoffed as I threw my Cadbury Creme Eggs and chocolate fudge Pop-Tarts onto the conveyer belt.

Dear Women's Health - I gave birth to triplets at 35 weeks and 6 days.  Before I started shrinking, I stood at just under 5'4" tall.  I have a petite frame so carrying three babies for that length of time stretched my skin and muscles beyond my body's natural ability to "bounce back."  I could do these 3 moves till the cows come home and I will never look like Gwyneth.  Thank you and have a great day.

I don't know.  Maybe this just set me up for a bad week or something.

Here's the thing - we spend so much of our lives in competition with others.  Whether measurable or not, it's there.  In high school and college, there's your class rank based upon your grades.  Do high school seniors still vote for "most likely to succeed" and "best looking"?  When I was working, we ranked the staff based upon their work abilities and performances.  I'm sure I was ranked as well.

As required by the state of Massachusetts, the girls participated in statewide testing for the first time at the end of third grade.  Several months later, the results were mailed to parents.  There was a graph that marked the grade the state considered passing, the average grade of the entire third grade of our school district and your child's score.  How do you compare to everyone else?  It's all laid out right there in front of you.  

When it comes to photography, I've always been the first one to tell you not to compare yourself to others.  Find your own style.  Don't follow trends.  Stop caring what others are doing!  But I found myself doing just that this week.  Maybe it's a combination of the time of year and everything going on right now - sick kid, tax returns, yearbook photos - but my photography has felt flat.  This isn't the first time I've felt this way but now that I'm not working outside the home, I sort of feel like my presence online is work.  I was scrolling through IG on Monday morning and I suddenly felt so insecure.  I'm too old.  My kids are too old.  While technically correct, my photos of my kids have never been and will never be called magical or whimsical.  I'll never be named one of the "fill in blank" photographers of the day, month, year.  Really, there was just a lot of self-induced negativity going on.  I try not to take things to heart but man, there are some cliques on social media.  Don't get me wrong, I've meet some super nice people - including some who live locally.  On the other hand though, I tried to connect with some others who live here and I was basically invisible.  Okay.

I apologize for my negativity.  I know some don't like reading it as it pulls them down.  I try to stay positive but I've always said I would stay true to myself and this has been a low week.  I can't imagine I'm the only one who has days like these which is why I'm sharing.  Okay, I'm going to end this so I can work on a tax return.  I don't have a desk so it's all spread out across the kitchen counter and I'd really like to clean that all up.  Thanks for listening.  And tomorrow is a new day!  

9 comments:

adrian faulkner said...

I'm also going through a photography low at the moment and it sucks, i feel like all my photos recently are uninteresting and blah, my two girls are older and its hard to catch them doing anything interesting or cute around the house anymore like when they were younger plus it's horrible weather in the UK at the moment so not much opportunity to be able to get out,i find it hard finding photos that are worth posting on IG at the moment, so I'm hoping that the weather will pick up soon and get me out of this photography low, personal speaking though I've always really enjoyed you're photography sarah and look forward to seeing you're post's...

Stephanie J. said...

I understand where you are coming from, well not the photography bit, I'm terrible. BUT, the whole comparison thing. It's the way of the world. Sometimes when I get sucked into an IG hole of comparison I like to imagine how that person would fare during a zombie apocalypse. Gwyneth Paltrow and her airbrushed abs would never survive.

Amber Gregory said...

I was just telling my boyfriend last night that I will never be a trendy photographer. I also feel too old, and I'm only 34. I don't follow Jesus. I don't want kids. I don't feel like the world revolves around true love and living/breathing the wedding industry. I don't follow trends. Even worse -- my editing style is MINIMAL, meaning I edit as little as possible. That means I am not ever going to be "popular" among online photographer cliques. And you know what? I truly don't care anymore. Don't be someone you're not. One of the reasons I love your photography so much is that you are a lot like me -- you love shooting photos, but you don't need to spend hours editing them so that they look "magical" and "whimsical" using other people's Lightroom presets, and as such, your photos don't look like everyone else's. I must admit, I judge people who follow photography trends, and I am glad you don't. And I think your children are so adorable, your attention to composition and your technique in photography is great. We all have our moments where we feel down and compare ourselves to others, but I know you'll get through this one. Keep shooting! Keep being you. And I will keep enjoying it. :)

Anonymous said...

This is not a negative post, just real! That's what we like about your blog post and pictures. no ones kids, families and lives are perfect all the time like most of the internet and magazines would like us to believe. Your doing a great job at everything, don't let anyone convince you of anything else.

Lisa said...

Oh, I can definitely relate to how comparisons can pull us down. Over the past 4-5 years, I've pulled back from most social media and seriously culled the list of blogs I follow. Besides making me feel jealous of others' situations (coming across serene newborn photo shoots or cute pictures of toddlers sleeping in high chairs/shopping carts/wherever they happen to conk out while I was trying to care for my fussy baby who would.not.sleep. drove me to tears more than I'd like to admit), I also found that much of what I saw was making me feel judgmental and negative. I know there can be a lot of good in social media and I feel a bit lame for being so bothered by some aspects of it, but whatever. If it's not adding something good to my life, I need to stop spending time on it.

I've enjoyed your increased posting of late and am grateful for your honesty. If you coerced your children into coordinated outfits and staged cutesy situations for your blog, it might result in lots of likes, but ... for me, your appeal is in your realness. I like that your blog is about YOU (and as a parent, I appreciate your perspective on kid stuff too). Most popular bloggers, I couldn't tell you a 'real' thing about them. It's all so curated that it feels like talking about fictional characters. Instead of working to make yourself relatable, you just ARE. And to me, that's way more valuable than a heap of likes or pictures to pin.

Anonymous said...

I've been following your blog since the girls were just little. I love that you are honest, cover a range of topics, and I love your photos. I know it must be strange to put your life out there for everyone to see, but I can assure you, everyone still comes here because you're unique and can help a lot of people with your experience. Even at 53, I think that I should be comfortable in my own skin. I spent all my 20's, 30's and 40's worried about my weight and I still do, but it was based on what other people might think and honestly, they don't really give a damn. Keep up the great work!
Melaka

Farah said...

This is why I love your blog. Not fake, excessive sponsored posts. Beautiful photos. Real life. Precious kids who aren't decked out in trendy, sponsored clothing. I totally agree with your thoughts about comparison. I have a 10 month-old son, and I feel like there is so much comparison already. "Is he walking? Is he talking? Mine can do XYZ, can yours?" It's so frustrating.

Farah said...

I totally meant to say no excessive sponsored posts!

Sarah said...

Farah - I know what you meant! :)