One of the downsides to becoming more active in the blogging community is that it gives me ample opportunity to scrutinize everyone else's lives and compare them to my own.* I start to admire another blogger's tattoos and may start to wonder if my tattoos meet the same standard. I lust after the long, beautiful (sometimes blue - so awesome) hair that so many bloggers have. I bemoan the fact that my crafting skills are slightly below the level of a sight-impaired three-toed sloth. I worry about the fact that my blog lacks a "niche." If my blog posts don't receive comments, or not many people view my blog in a day, or if I write multiple posts in a short period of time (worrying about that now) I obsess over how horrible my writing must be or what an ineffective blogger I am, especially in comparison to all those AWESOME bloggers who kick blog ass on a daily basis. Truly, for me, these are all real and justifable reasons to feel down and, you guessed it, inferior.
Danielle from Sometimes Sweet shared an article last week that explains how social media actually makes us feel more isolated because of this tendency to endlessly compare ourselves. Indeed, as we tend to primarily show the best of us online, it means that we are constantly aware of how we can't stack up against all the absolutely "perfect" people around us. We know that we aren't perfect, that our hair doesn't always fall in the right place and sometimes we yell at our significant others for tripping over a rug or giving off too much body heat in bed, but because we don't always read about this happening to others it's easy to assume it's just us, and it's probably something we're doing wrong.
This isn't to say that any of these bloggers who I imagine probably walk on water ever try to promote the idea that they are flawless. But somehow, the flaws that others do put on display seem to make them even more endearing because, and maybe this is just me, their flaws just don't seem as real and obvious as my own. Their flaws seem (to me) to come from being too awesome and too beautiful.
One thing I admire about myself is my ability to be incredibly self-aware about the thoughts I have on a daily basis. I know for a fact that everything described above, things I think and feel very acutely on a daily basis, have no basis in reality. I know for a fact that a lot, if not most, bloggers and people in real life have the same issues with inferiority and insecurity that I do. I know that my tattoos, photography, appearance, life, marriage have no bearing on anyone else's, and vice versa.
In short, I know that I shouldn't live my life in the context of anyone else's life. I, and really all of us, need to learn to live our own lives free of these constraints. Because I have learned that no matter how much I compare myself to someone else, I will never stack up. And if I continue to compare something as trivial as my blog to others', I will quickly burn out on it, and who wants that? Writing and connecting with people is awesome, and it's so cool that I get the opportunity to participate. Why make it into a chore?
Am I alone in these feelings? Totally fine if I am, I'm used to being the crazy one.
To end on a lighter note:
*I wanted to say in this footnote that I compared myself to other people long before social networking was around...it just makes it easier to do so when you're around more numerous and diverse types of people. Totally awesome to be able to communicate with amazing people worldwide, but if you're anxious or depressed it opens up a whole new world in a completely different way.