Raw Authenticity- The Comparison Trap

I am debating whether to post this or not. To be honest- I don't know where this post is headed or what all will be revealed. All I know is that I feel the need to write-so here I am. 

Have you noticed the instagram craze going on about the new algorithm and turning on notifications and how everyone seems to be outraged and OVERLY opinionated about this topic? If you are like me and you thrive on social media or your business is dependant on word of mouth and the great marketing that social media can bring to the table, then I am sure you know exactly what I am talking about. If not- just hop on instagram or facebook for about 5 seconds and you will be all caught up. 

I ask that to come to this statement- You guys, Instagram is not life. Social media in general is not life. It isn't authentic no matter how desperately we want it to be. Social media provides a platform for people to present the best of their lives, businesses, photographs, fashion, children, families....etc. It fails to show the authenticity of someone's life. It features the triumphs in life. The victories. The positives- but it leaves out the struggles. The trials. The Tragedies. 

One thing that I strive to show in my life is authenticity. My whole life I have heard people like best friends parents say to me "Abberdean (a beloved nickname of mine as a child) I love that with you- what you see is what you get." Now- to be entirely fair- that is a false statement. I have had countless times throughout my life where what you saw was the absolute opposite of what you got. I was a master at trading masks out for whoever I was around. I did things I wanted to do but I felt like I had to hide parts of myself from people because of my background. I was the pastor's daughter. What I did was a direct reflection on my family. Sometimes that mattered too much and sometimes it mattered far too little. 

I think the point of that statement though was this- If you want the truth I will give it. It may not be easy to hear (or say for that matter) but if you ask me a question I will tell you my answer. I like to believe I have grown out of the need for a facade. I don't know how true that really is, but I am telling you, my constant goal is to be authentic and genuine. I want to be able to show and share the triumphs and tragedies I face. I want to live life in a community rather than as an outsider looking in. I want to be able to use my life experiences to help others through theirs. 

I want to be Authentic. Raw. Relevant. (Shout out to Delight & BE! ) 

I want to share that I find things difficult. That I often find myself so deep in the trap of comparison that I look at myself or my work and almost don't recognize it. Social media is not the devil and when used for it's true purpose it is a wonderful and incredible tool. However- as humans it is so easy to see all of those pretty posts, perfect Instagram's, beautiful families living the life you always wanted, girls wearing the newest clothes in the smallest sizes with the best make-up. Perfectly drawn on eyebrows. (joke) and for me- Photographers who are so successful and incredibly talented and I just fall into this lie that I am not good enough and I will never be good enough. 

I am not pretty enough. I am not talented enough. I am not strong enough. I am not "mom" enough. I can't cook. I can't do anything right. I am so stupid. Everyone else is better than me and I am "the scum between my toes" (thanks, Alf Alfa!) 

Can anyone else relate? Am I alone in this? I don't think so. 

I know that all of those things seem so absurd, especially when written out like that. Obviously I am not *That* worthless. But I do feel like it-often. 

Marriage is hard, worth it, but hard. Parenting is hard, worth it, but hard. CHRISTIANITY is hard. Definitely worth it- but definitely hard. There are so many expectations with each of these. So many must-do methods and the door to judgement is wide open. Everyone has an opinion. 

Want to know what to do, say, think, feel, be:? Who to vote for or what to believe? How to parent or wear a bobby pin(seriously, you guys.) - Just ask facebook! You'll find out quickly what everyone else thinks. 

I once even saw someone get married and on the image someone commented about how hideous the wedding rings were. On their wedding photo! The world is full of arrogant and opinionated people who think that their right to speak their opinion means that they get to just trample on people's feelings for fun. 

Those things come with social media. It's not surprising that the comparison trap is so easy to fall into and so detrimental to your life. 

Dr. Seuss had it right when he wrote: "Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.'

Can we just be ourselves for a minute? Just let everyone think their own thoughts and feel their own feels and it just be okay? Just for one minute? 

My life is far from perfect but it is also far from miserable. I have more than enough. My apartment may be small but it's home and it's more than what a lot can afford. We have plenty of food. We have more than enough clothes. There is so much to be thankful for but when I sink into that comparison trap I lose sight of the positives and begin to complain about everything. 

My husband and I were in the vehicle this weekend and he said to me "Do you ever wish your partner would just stop complaining so much?" haha! You see- he had been sick for a week or so and I had heard just about every complaint there is x10. But the reason he asked that is because he knows I complain just as much (maybe more). 

Do you guys ever get sick of complaining? I get tired of hearing my own voice when I am complaining constantly. But it is just so easy to do-right? 

So how do we climb out of the comparison trap? How do we stay out when we get out? 

We have to actively choose to live an AUTHENTIC life. The good, the bad, the ugly. All of it. When someone asks us how our weekend was we have to be willing to say "It was really hard actually. We had a couple of family tragedies. I am not handling them well." And then LET other people console us. We have to be willing to be a community of people who not only want to hear the good and feel good feelings but we have to come together and lift eachother up in the hard times too. The times of despair and emptiness. 

When we begin to live authentically we open up to the mentality that life doesn't have to be picture perfect. People will catch on and know that they have a person they can be authentic with and feel safe in doing so. When we live authentically we live intentionally. 

So here is your challenge- 

Go out today and on social media or in person- share something NOT PRETTY with someone. Open up about struggles and tragedies and allow someone else to take an intentional role in your life. 

My tragedy is this: 

Last Saturday I was pregnant. 4 positive tests and a lot of excitement built up. I scheduled an appointment at the OB-GYN to confirm but there wasn't time to get in before Easter. I wanted to make Easter special for mine and Kyle's parents so I decided that even though it was early I would tell them and just ask to keep it private until we could get in to see a doctor to make sure everything was okay. 

Kyle had reservations when it came time to tell our parents. He was scared that something would happen and that we would have to backtrack and tell them that something went wrong. I, however, knew that I couldn't bear going through another miscarriage alone so it was worth it to me to tell them early and then I would at least know that Kyle and I would not be alone in the journey. 

We told Kyle's parents and then headed down to South Florida to see my family. I started having some cramps in the car but thought nothing of it since I had them with Chloe too. We got into my parents town at 3:30 am Saturday morning and by 7am I woke up in blood. I had lost the baby. We hadn't told my parents yet. I messaged Kyle's mom and told her what happened after I gotten up and showered. Kyle and I just lay in bed and held each other.  

You see- this was number 2. The first one I haven't ever even talked about until now. This very moment. Kyle was the only one who knew for such a long time. I knew that I couldn't function with another secret like that being held in. The first one was so traumatizing. I just couldn't take another one. 

I took two pregnancy tests on Saturday to confirm my suspicion and they were both negative. I talked with Kyle and decided to go ahead and announce the baby to parents as planned and then let them know that things had gone wrong. They deserved to know that life was there. The baby's life- though short and insignificant to some- mattered to me. It deserved to be celebrated and mourned. 

I had been so excited that week that baby was still okay. I got my hair and make-up done and my friend Rae (Rae Marshall Photography) was so generous and willing to take some photographs for me to use as the announcement images. 

I had a support system. I knew they had my back. My friends, family, and people I worked with were so kind and excited for me. 

I am heartbroken now to have to officially say that Baby is gone. 

However there is a Triumph here. Kyle and I have allowed this to draw us together instead of apart. We know that there is a spot in our hearts for another baby. We want Chloe to grow up with a sibling. And we are not letting this defeat us. There are people in this world who cannot even have a child at all and here we are with this beautiful little girl that God has blessed us with. We can share our pain and tragedy and know that there is beauty in it. We can trust that God has a plan before He ever even formed us in our mothers womb. Just like he did for this baby. 

There is a plan. There is hope. There is redemption. 

 

You see- life is not always perfect. Instagram and Facebook can only portray so much. But everyone has a story going on behind closed doors. Those people whom you may look at with such admiration are struggling in some area somewhere too. We are all human. We all struggle. We all fall. And we can all rise together in the midst of tragedy to create a triumph. 

Abigail Wellinghurst

Abigail Wellinghurst Photography, Spanish Fort , USA