A couple of weeks or so ago, I shared in my newsletter about how I realized through almost purchasing a yellow item I knew I would never wear more than once simply because I thought it would photograph well, gave me the opportunity to really evaluate my heart and to slow down a bit.
If you’re not subscribed, the short version of what happened was that I saw an item that was a really, really bright yellow and almost purchased it simply because I thought it would photograph well and would brighten up my IG feed a bit. It had nothing to do with whether it was something I could see myself wearing often and it was primarily because it was bright and I felt with all the bright pinks and yellows I was seeing on my feed that I needed to brighten mine up as well.
Needless to say, I didn’t, but the fact that I considered doing it forced me into some introspection to really get back to evaluating what is truly authentic to me instead of looking at what others were doing and trying to keep up.
While this is one small example of trying to keep up with others, I’ve experienced this in other areas of my life as well.
When I was single and not dating anyone, at times I wrestled with the pressure to find someone just because.
When I graduated undergrad, I was already feeling the pressure to go into grad school even though I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to study at first. (I didn’t go to grad school, though).
When we were planning our wedding, I kept looking to Pinterest and trying to compare what our wedding plans were to others.
When I was married, people were already asking me about children.
When we were looking for homes, I felt like I had to find a single family home because then that would’ve shown that I had truly made it in life.
There’s many more where that came from and overtime I began to find myself starting to wrestle with some of those thoughts that were being inserted through the questions and expectations of others.
“Should I be going to grad school right out of college?”
“Should I be trying to have a baby now that we’re married?”
“Should we start looking for single family homes to move into in the next few years?”
The same goes for blogging and online sharing. You see people getting sponsored stays at hotels and working with brands you’d love to work with. You see people getting paid to travel the world without having to pay a dime themselves. You see people getting opportunity after opportunity and you begin to compare yourself with where they are.
It’s easy to compare and fall into the trap of feeling like you need to be more like someone else to get what they have.
Similarly to my revelation induced by a yellow piece of clothing, I found myself comparing my feed and what I share with someone else and wanting to alter myself for the sake of trying to get as many likes as they have.
But is it worth it?
Let’s say it works and by purchasing that item, I get a ton of likes and a ton of new followers. Yet, I know I will probably never wear that piece of clothing again and am now stuck in the habit of purchasing things solely for the photograph aesthetic of it and not because it’s functional or a piece I’ll get a lot of wear out of. Is that worth it?
I would have spent money for no reason and began to cultivate a lifestyle of living above my means simply because that’s what seems to get the most interactions online and still not be content because it’s not me.
The main problem with trying to “keep up with the Joneses” is you can’t. Period.
There’s always going to be some new style or a new milestone to aspire towards or reach.
When you’re single, people are rushing you to get into a relationship.
When you’re in a relationship, they’re asking when you plan to get married.
When you’re married, they’re asking about children.
After you have a child, they’re asking about your next one.
Then it’s a new car or a house or new gadget.
Then it’s retirement and trying to find the best age to do so.
There will always be a milestone or some sort of “goal” to reach towards. While there’s nothing wrong with desiring those things, I think when we get to a point when we’re perpetually trying to reach that next step in life to feel that we’ve truly made it, that we realize it never stops. We may have some of the same milestones, but the way we get there and what that looks like might be different for everyone.
For me, I got married and moved into a row home.
For someone else, they may be single and moving into a single-family home because they can afford to purchase a house.
Everyone’s journey is different so it is futile for us to compare where we are with someone else who has had different experiences than us.
What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever struggled with this feeling?