I was talking with a friend about cable TV. She was mortified when I told her that for 5 years we had no cable television in our home. Her first question was “You’re a designer! How did you watch HGTV?!?” Queue the look of horror when I said, “I didn’t.”
“So you’ve never watched Fixer Upper? Property Brothers? Love it or List it?”
Silence. Shock. Questioning all that is right in the world.
Now, I won’t bore you with the details of why we didn’t have cable, but it boils down to the fact that we never had time to watch tv, so why pay for it? We owned a Roku instead and for 5 years it was honestly a non issue for our family. But that’s off my point.
Have you ever been at a friends house – and this friend is perfect. Her home is perfect, her clothes are perfect, her mannerisms, stories and husband – all PERFECT. You love spending time in her perfect house with perfect food and perfect kids. It’s so much fun and you have a blast! But then on the ride home you start to think about going back to your 100% imperfect home and in your mind you start ticking off all of the things that need to be done to bring your home and life up to her standards. Walls, floors, furniture, food, plates, clean windows… the list of comparison could continue forever, right?
I’ve been there, and when we first moved to our most recent location (Delaware), I signed up for cable TV. I was so excited to watch all of these shows on HGTV that my friends rave about! So, I did. I binged on Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, Love it or List it. House Hunters (which is like a visual crack addiction). I did it- for WEEKS. Could.Not.Get.Enough.
And then I felt it creep in. I know that you know the feeling. I felt that wave of comparison creep in. Every time an episode would end, I would start looking at my surroundings thinking “can I remove that wall?” “should I repaint?” “Where can I find a vintage door like that?” and I was sick to my stomach. I suddenly didn’t love my stuff, my surroundings or my home. And it was awful. Suddenly I would find myself wanting more than what I had and hardly appreciating all that I do have. Until one night my husband in his quirky wisdom said, “Jess, you act like we have nothing. Why isn’t this enough for you?”
Boy did that stop me in my self involved tracks. In that moment, everything came into perfect clarity for me. Everything changed.
We spent a good bit of time that night talking about comparison. Money. Projects. Living in the present. Being grateful. How far we’ve come in our lives and what our priorities truly are. In that moment it was decided. I stopped watching.
Here’s what I learned in 5 years with no Joanna Gaines;
- Love what you have. Make it work for you and stop comparing yourself to others. What’s that saying? You’re comparing your every day to their highlight reel.
- Find your own style. 5 years away from HGTV allowed me to find my own style instead of copying the style they told me I should have. Own your style and run with it.
- Change in your home takes time. They pack an entire renovation into 60 minutes, and they spend a ton of money to get it done. Think about that and piece it out. Slow yourself down and start small.
The bottom line, comes from my absolute favorite quote from Theodore Roosevelt:
We live in a world where everyone is amplified – living out loud and proud. We share the tiniest moments of our day on social media. From what we ate for breakfast to the last glass of wine at night, it’s all there for the world to see in glorious color. It’s fun to be a voyeur and watch how people live – we feel like super spies because when someone is speaking at a party and they’re talking about their lives, we already know the details because we saw it on social media. We’ve literally taken ourselves out of the conversation by not having the conversation, and when it comes to your personal life? It’s doing more harm than good.
I’m not naive enough to think that anything is going to change on social media. People will still share their perfection over and over. It’s here to stay. But there are ways to deal with it – remember these things as you’re on social media and the comparison creeps in:
- Life is literally perfect on Facebook. No one is going to show you the dirty socks in the corner or the sink full of dishes or the walls that aren’t painted. No one wants to highlight their real life. Everyone wants to highlight a magazine life. Remember that. Always, always remember that. Even celebrities make messes, have kids who are kids and dogs that puke on the bed at 2 a.m. They just don’t want you to know that. Human is human.
- You really can stop watching. Know your body – if you find yourself feeling that gut reaction of any negative feelings – butterflies of anxiety, comparison, sadness or angst when you’re looking at a particular person’s feed or post, CLICK UNFOLLOW. Save yourself those feelings because I promise you the other person doesn’t care that you’re feeling that way, and your own sanity and emotional stability is more important than knowing every single thing a person is up to at this moment. I do this all the time. I’m not immune to comparison. On Instagram I find myself looking at the perfect houses of these designers who have oodles of money to invest in creating an enormous and beautiful home that they so gloriously showcase over and over. Literally perfect pictures, mansions with loads of space, expensive furnishings and finishes and I find myself feeling those feelings of “that will never be me.” and I have to do a gut check. I frequently have to remind myself that those McMansions full of ridiculously expensive things are so far away from all of the things I stand for and believe in. You would never catch me buying a home that large or spending that kind of money on furnishing and finishing it and at my core belief, I would rather buy experiences before I buy things. I have to remind myself of this almost daily as I’m on social media. It’s so easy to get caught up in the perfect home phenomenon that is happening – even for me. Take stock of what you believe in and remind yourself over and over again.
- Find your tribe. With this, you’re not likely to have a million followers, but you will have a quality group of people who get it and get you. Find the people who share your values, beliefs and mission. Follow them, hang with them and be inspired by them and for them.
We are living in this world where every one of us is wading through a tide of perfection. Depression is at an all time high. Suicide is increasing among teens. Spending is out of control because the comparison is insanity. People are living for the next moment and not in the current moment: “when I get that thing, I’ll be happy.” “when we reach this goal, we’ll be happy.” We are being led by an onslaught of perfection that is begging us to live for the next great thing. I think it’s time to fight back. Change the conversation. Take control of what you see. Be aware of what information you allow into your one and precious life. And for the love of everything, CLICK UNFOLLOW.