In full transparency the post has taken a lot of guts to share but I think it’s a topic that would serve us well to talk about more frequently. I actually spent a whole year (52 weeks in total) writing about my week to week quest to find contentment because I think it’s that interesting and important to pursue. But today I want to dive into this a bit more on a level that feels vulnerable but necessary given the climate of what I consider to be our social scene.
I received a comment from a reader here, and while it was a short comment without much context, in a nutshell this reader said that my life seems unattainable because of the pretty ‘perfect’ photos I share in my blog posts. I would assume the photos I share give her the strong illusion everything is perfect all of the time which we all know isn’t true for anyone but then again I’ve received similar comments on social media too where I share iPhone photos and a lot of behind the scenes of my life exactly as I experience it; imperfections and all.
While the feedback received wasn’t malicious or mean, and I understand where it came from because I know the content I share just as well these readers do, my first thought was to get defensive because I’m human. My second thought was because this comment is targeted towards something as deep and vast as my life (versus something much more trivial like, say my nail color), it felt a bit like an opportunity to justify myself and how I do things. But after sage advice from two friends I admire, I decided to dedicate an entire post to it because this is an opportunity not to justify myself but instead breathe life into anyone who struggles with contentment or comparison (because we are ALL human and we all have our flaws).
Contentment: a state of happiness and satisfaction.
I want to first share this: I am by trade, a wedding planner, stylist, and floral designer. My job is to make things look beautiful. I am also an aspiring author with two writing degrees and a love for writing. I have a fiery passion for celebrating. I love to find ways to balance form and function in our home. I’m drawn to visual harmony in all I do both professionally and personally. I believe God created me to live my life this way just as He may give another person the gift of managing numbers well so that person can be a professional accountant. Or the way He gives a brain surgeon the gift of understanding the human anatomy and what our brains need in a time of distress so surgeons can save lives. This is my heartbeat and there is not a lot of separation between my professional talents as a purveyor of beauty and personal desire to live in a beautiful way.
The content I share here on my blog or on my social media channels (which includes but is not limited to the words I write/type, photos I share, projects I conceptualize, weddings I execute, snapshots of my personal life including my home and family) is publicly shared because they contribute to a bigger picture goal in both my business and life.
The bigger picture goal in my business is to love others well, create beautiful things that inspire others, steward remarkable experiences, share my stories to help others transform theirs, and in doing those things, financially contribute to my family and our experiences.
The big picture goal in my personal life is to utilize my talents and gifts in a way that serves my family, friends, and community as best as possible. I share this because 100% of the content I create loops back to the things I strive for in my business AND personal life. I am VERY intentional in all I do and make no mistake in believing that my blog content (where I share the most professional photos) is an effort to do anything but fulfill my goal to life out my best life.
I believe for something to be unattainable there has got to be major obstacles holding us back. Whether that’s a financial obstacle (e.g. we cannot afford a $900,000 home), a God-given obstacle (I will never be a supermodel because God gave me a 5 foot 1 inch total body length, #truth), or a self-prohibiting obstacle (I can’t run a marathon because I’m not a good runner), there is usually more than one thing holding us back and thus, marking something as ‘unattainable’. I think this often when I stumble upon the gorgeous feeds of fashion bloggers on Instagram. I don’t have beautiful long hair in perfectly loose curls! My legs are definitely not that long and my arms are not that skinny! I don’t live in a home with an overflowing walk in closet that looks like it’s straight off the pages of House & Home! And my outfits are mostly from Target and American Eagle so they totally do not look like they come from anywhere but, well, Target! Living a life like a fashion blogger must by unattainable for me, right?
But I know better than to get caught up in what could be envy, jealously, bitterness, or even an unhealthy longing for wanting what others may have (that I don’t, can’t or won’t) under the guise that those THINGS are simply unattainable. Because in the above example detailing my frequent perceptions of fashion bloggers (which I realize there is so much more under the surface of anything), I could curl my hair in the loveliest of ways every morning. But I have a toddler that kick starts our mornings pretty early meaning I’m lucky if I even get to wash my hair. And in actuality I cut my hair off last year and love it even more shorter. I could scour stores online for ‘it’ clothing, and take photos in a way that emphasized my body beautifully but I feel good about how I feel and look anyway, and that’s enough for me. And I could shop outside of Target, looking for cute clothing, new outfits, coordinated outfits for holidays and date nights, but clothing just really isn’t my jam! And I like my Target digs so if it isn’t broken why fix it…
What I am trying to point out here is that I firmly believe we have the choice to determine what is attainable. Whether bits and pieces of someone else’s life are what you’re after or you’re looking to really jump tracks and shake up your life, USUALLY it comes back to you to muster up the courage, find the resources, do the work and make the unattainable become within your grasp. Sometimes something can become attainable in a few easy steps (like snagging that gal’s cute new spring outfit in place of eating out over the next month!) and sometimes there are many steps and lots of hard work involved (if we ever wanted to buy a $900,000 home that would be the case) but truly, most things in life are attainable in some capacity.
Which leads to my next part of this discussion here.
If there is one thing I learned last year, there is such a misconception of things portrayed on television, social media, in magazines, or in conversations with others. It is VERY hard to experience something or someone truly and fully any other way than face to face or in full body, mind and spirit. It’s why online dating is so different than an in person date! It’s why some conferences have more of an impact on your business when done in person via a virtual e-course done from your couch. It’s why someone’s IG caption may come across a certain way but then you meet that person in real life and realize they talk differently, are taller than assumed, feel more welcoming, etc.
I’ve been learning so much about perception. That sometimes the way I perceive something isn’t so much about the thing I am perceiving but many times more about my own insecurities or shortcomings. Which means, for me as a ‘fixer’ and goal savvy gal, that there’s work to do. If something someone else has makes me feel envious or jealous there’s a deeper reason why. It something makes me feel like I have to guard my heart then I’m going to guard it but I’m also going to do the uncomfortable work to uncover WHY the guarding feels necessary. I can confidently bet that 99% of the things people share publicly with the rest of the world are shared in a way to bridge or find common experiences and special milestones. I simply do not believe that people share things with the intention to make others feel poorly about their own realities and circumstances. Which leads right back to perception! Perception, and keeping it under control, is so important and critical for a healthy heart and mind.
I’m a big advocate for defining your own success. As I get older, my son grows up, we grow our family, reach new goals, and settle into a life we’ve always dreamed of, my version of success likely varies from that of my peers. And that’s great! There’s no measuring tool more appropriate for measuring your own success than the one you’ve crafted yourself! The same holds true for contentment in your life and I encourage you to to define what contentment looks like for you. Chances are it wouldn’t be having the things or life the next person has but it would start with finding tremendous gratitude with the things right in front of you.
I’d love to hear your thoughts below! Xo