Thursday, May 31, 2012

me : A World of Encouragement {Challenge}

Sometimes I get caught up in this "perfect" world of blogging, where it seems that every blogger has the perfect kitchen, perfect hair, perfectly manicured nails, perfect photos, perfect kids, and I look around at my messy kitchen, chipped polish on my nails, fussy kiddo and think, "Gosh, how do they have it so together and I don't?" Anyone else have that problem?


Being a blogger is tough. Non-bloggers (and even some bloggers) don't really get it. You work for hours on a post and you get one comment, sometimes none. You work on a recipe and taking pictures of your food and you don't get any feedback on if someone tries your recipe and likes (or hates) it. You spend hours and hours and HOURS tweaking your blog, getting your buttons just so, working on your header or layout or background and people have no idea how much time you've spent on it. And you still don't grow in followers. I know some people spend lots of money on their blogs, I don't, but some do. And for what? For the comments? The views? The affirmation that your voice is out there, being heard (read)? Or is it for you? Is the whole point of blogging to just blog? To write it out, and if your blog grows, great. If it doesn't, great. 


Blogging has so many benefits. I've met some amazing and lovely people through blogging that I never would have met otherwise. Some have become friends, some just acquaintances. We share our recipes and DIYs, our day to day stories, our celebrations, our pitfalls. It's a community and sometimes, even a family. The bloggers that I've become friends with, they know me. They know more about my dreams, goals, aspirations than most members of my family. They know more about what I like and don't like and the reasons behind both than many of my RL (real life) friends. 


But still, just like with regular life, I experience these moments of self-consciousness, sometimes even self-loathing. Because I start the comparison game and start envying the bloggers I see that always have great clothes and perfect hair. I am jealous of the bloggers that get to go to all these amazing blogger meet-ups and seminars.  Non-bloggers can't understand that. 


I had high hopes for last weekend. I wanted to get BB's room painted. That didn't happen for a few various reasons. I thought it would be okay because I'd get more mobiles made. That didn't happen either. The baby was SUPER fussy all last weekend and needless to say, my nerves were more than just a little frazzled.


And all of my doubts and insecurities and self-pity kept coming back to one question: How does everyone else have it all together, and I don't?


I haven't been blogging as much lately and part of it is because I've really been busy with other things going on in my life, but also because I just didn't feel like I had anything worth blogging about. Who wants to come read a blog post about some frazzled, over-busy mom/wife/woman who can't get it together?


This week I've been really working on these feelings and Monday night I sat down with my laptop and The Bachelorette on DVR and I wrote out several blog posts to use over the next few weeks. I brainstormed about new series, new post ideas, new topics of discussion and it felt good to work that bloggy-part of my brain. I also thought about my feelings of... just being inept. And how much I feel like that, not just as a blogger, but also as a wife, mother, woman. Most of the time, I do pretty well at giving myself a break and realizing that I'm doing a good job at everything. But sometimes, like the past week or so, I let those feelings creep in and it's all I can do to not think I'm just a walking disaster. 


I know that some, if not all, of you reading this right now are nodding your head and thinking, "Mmmhmmm... I'm with you girl! I know exactly what you mean!" Which brings me to my next question: When did we decide to stop being real, and start faking perfection?


Are you perfect? Am I perfect? Is anyone out there perfect? So why do we spend so much time trying to fake perfection?? Do you trust my recipe less if my pictures aren't stunning and my kitchen in the background is littered with sippy cups? Does my DIY mean nothing to you if you see my messy office and countless other projects going on in the background? Does this blog post mean nothing to you if I tell you that I haven't showered or brushed my teeth yet?


Basically... do I lose all credibility/validity if I show you my imperfections? I've realized this week that if that's the case, shame on you. If that's the case, that's your problem. Not mine. 


We live in this world where we critique everyone. We check out the articles about celebrities and what they wore and how terrible they looked and how they messed up again and got arrested. And we sit back in our good-looking outfits, not being arrested and  we roll our eyes at the privilege they have that we don't, and how we think they're abusing it. And it's not just celebs that we critique. We talk about people who do things that we disagree with and we offer our opinions of what they should or should not have done. Even though we weren't there, we aren't them, we don't know what their life is actually like. And even worse... It's also the mothers with the fussy babies, the wives with the piles of laundry and messy kitchens, the women who wear too much makeup or not enough. We've turned on ourselves. We've started tearing down other women, critiquing them, criticizing them. And I can't decide if it's worse when we do that in front of them, or behind their backs. Because either way, you're causing damage. Either way, you're tearing down a person, a woman. 


Which brings me to my final question: What would happen if we built up and encouraged, instead of tore down and criticized? What if instead of making a snarky comment about a mom struggling with her kid(s), you offered a word of encouragement or even a helping hand? What if instead of looking down on the wife with the laundry piles and the dust-covered furniture, you reminded her that you, too, have had weeks like that and it's perfectly okay. What if instead of criticizing the woman who has a different style of makeup/hair/wardrobe than you, you made her feel beautiful from the inside out? What if we started encouraging all the women that we come in to contact with? And eventually, raised our little girls to know how to encourage, instead of how to condescend? What if we took the sarcastic remarks out of our life, and replaced them with words of grace, moments of mercy?


What would a world of encouragement look like?

And finally, a challenge. Maybe you've read through this post and you've agreed with part (or all) of what I've said. Maybe you're doing some self-evaluating right now and trying to decide if you've been more of a critic or more of an encourager. I hope you are. And I hope you'll join me in the challenge for the next 24 hours to send as many words of encouragement as you can. Maybe it's a text to someone who's going through something that's difficult for them. Maybe it's sending a card or note to a friend, or someone at church/work/carpool circle. Maybe it's tweeting a friend or sending someone a facebook message. Maybe it's to your spouse. Maybe... it's to you. Maybe you need to send yourself a word of encouragement. There's no "goal" and there's no limit to the number of encouragements you can send. But try it out. Try out this encouragement thing and see what a world of encouragement looks like. 

And if you accept this challenge, and try this out, come back and tell me how it went. How did it make you feel to give encouragement? To receive encouragement? 

As for me, I'm doing the challenge too! And I'm going to start with you. I don't know who you are or what you're going through in your life, but whether it's big or small, someone else has been there. Whatever it is, you are not alone. I pray that if you are reading this you know that you are loved, that you are treasured, that you were created for a purpose and not by accident. I hope you break away from the comparison game and realize that you are uniquely different from everyone else, and it's completely okay if you like to do things a little different. And mostly, I want you to keep going. Keep doing what you're doing and being as much YOU as you can be. Remember that you're only human, you aren't perfect, and you DO NOT have to act like you are. ♥


6 comments:

  1. I am with you! So much so, that I copied and pasted the address of this post from IE into Google Chrome so that I could leave a non-anonymous comment! :)

    Ready... set... go! :)

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  2. I try to live my life encouraging others. At my age, I have been there and done that. No-one is perfect in my eyes except Jesus but we strive to be like Him every day.
    As far as the hair, fashion, homes, being organized, etc. I don't ever want to look at someone for those things. I always want to look at the heart.

    Regina - you have such a sweet heart.

    ♥♥♥
    Sue

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  3. Oh the timing of this....in the past 24 hours I received my first negative blog comment (of course anonymous comment)calling me an "increative lame-ass". Nevermind that they used a word that doesn't even exist and then had some phone call at work where a man repeatedly called me "stupid" and kept telling me to "shut up". I agree what is about so many people in this world wanting to tear people down? No one's perfect....trust me 99% of the time my house looks like a crime scene, I live in the same stained yoga pants like 6 out of the 7 days of the week, and so on and so on.

    I know as humans we like things that are aesthetically pleasing and yes I'm guilty of loving some bloggers who happen to have a talent for photography while wearing the best darn outfit ever but at the same time I am even more drawn to the ones who keep it real and like me don't act like they have it all together!!

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  4. Oh Regina. It seems that we're always on the same page. I don't have it all together. Not by any means. I have a tiny studio apartment which is always a huge mess with something needing to be cleaned or washed or scrubbed. I don't wear cute clothes every day. And most of the time those things are ok with me. But sometimes I get caught up in the comparison game and its hard to stop.

    And honestly this sort of thing has gotten worse since I've gotten engaged. This should be a time of fun and celebration. Instead its turning into a period full of stress, frustration, and pressure. There's pressure from my family to have a certain type of wedding and invite a certain number of people. As a blogger I feel pressure to share my wedding planning and how it all turns out. I feel pressured to have a beautiful DIY wedding and to be able to pull it off without a hitch. The trouble is, it doesn't work that way. But does that take away from me as a blogger, or a bride, if I choose to have an ultra simple wedding? It shouldn't. But its definitely hard to put aside those feelings of expectations.

    Anyway, all that to say, I know where you're coming from. And like Jen said, I'm drawn to bloggers who keep it real and don't try to be perfect all the time.

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  5. What a wonderful post! I am usually a lurker and read blogs but had to take a moment and comment. I write my blog so I can keep a record of my life and what was happening at the time. It's so nice to have a journal to look back on and see where I was in the past. And I am going to accept the challenge and leave encouraging words for others! We are all special ... Thanks for the great post.

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  6. So inspiring, I fall victim to the Obligitory Blogging trap all the time. It's important to take a step back and realize how important IRL is. Stop documenting, start experiencing more of life :)

    xo Shane

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