Catalyst

Curated Life vs Real Life


Blaming is human nature. We do it without even thinking, like a defense mechanism.

It was the "go to" method for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. "The woman you gave me..." or "The serpent..." It’s so tempting to look outside ourselves when we face problems. And it's true. Sometimes problems do completely rest of the shoulders of others. There are innocent victims.

But there's also plenty of situations when the problem lives firmly within our own souls, comparison for example.

Comparison

Comparison is one of those hangups that we can control over as women. If we have a problem with comparison, we can't blame the other girl. It's our decision. We decide what we will believe about ourselves and our families.

Inside we all know that no one is perfect. I know I'm not a perfect mom and I know I’ve never met one. But it doesn't feel that way does it?

Maybe you think you’ve seen the perfect women on Instagram or Pinterest, who has her life sparkly clean or whose body is expertly photo-shopped, but that’s not a real person. That’s an apparition.

If those who curate their lives took a moment of silence to look over their image, not even they would recognize themselves.

It's a snapshot, a 15 second video highlighting the delightful moment to capture a memory. And those memories are wroth cataloging, but they're not worth comparing ourselves with.

Online images are a faint representation of the real person or their real life. No sane person wants to capture the 5 second adult temper tantrum they had when their kid asked them, for the millionth time about dinner. No mom out there wants to catalog how she yelled at her kid for spilling dinner on the floor cause they weren't sitting on their bottom like they were told. Those moments are real, but they aren't the memories we want to make.

So how can we, as women, see the perfectly curated lives of others and celebrate them without having Mom Envy?

The Woman I Know

I’m a part of an online community that shows these adorable, perfectly staged, yet don’t look staged, farm scenes. Kids are dressed kind of old fashioned, participating in activities that are slow, thoughtful and beautiful. But that mom still raises her voice sometimes. Mud finds its ways upon her shoes. Her children say, “I’m bored” too. These curated lives are just that. Curated. But I love her photos, They inspire me and remind me to slow down and enjoy a visceral way of living.

I used to work in an art gallery and we curated shows. I wasn’t in charge of this but I helped the lady who did. She painstakingly chose the best works to hang, how to hang them, organize and present them. It took hours of forethought and careful attention to detail. And it wasn’t just about the placement and arrangement, but about lighting.

I recall standing up on a ladder while she would say, “A little to the left” and then “A little to the right,” and eventually it was just as she’d pictured it in her mind. My point is that it takes work to arrange your outside life to look like the inside one you imagine. It was hard to work curate the show. And we must remember that these photos aren't created effortlessly. Like I just strode into my kitchen and captured, with perfect lighting and expertise, a solemn moment of love and learning between all my kids.

No, by the time I see some sweet moment it's gone in 5 seconds and I couldn't find my phone or IG was having issues or my focus was off, "Okay kids, get back together...smile...no, the way you were before...nevermind." It's lost. Or is it?

Real Life

Our memories are valuable. There are beautiful memories that I feel honored to have in print or online and then I also have those that never made a photo...but those memories are of value.

Real life is full of non-photographable moments both good and bad

Curation is a fun, permissible past time. But, like anything else, it is best to keep it in perspective. We must hold in our minds the separateness real life and of a curated world. If we don’t, our thoughts may slip into comparison. We are all made up of a variety of moments and, while it's fun to catalog the fun ones, let's remember that we are who we are because of the tough ones too.

The tides of comparison are high and can swallow us up if we aren't intentional to keep mental boundaries. So as we feel the comparative thoughts rush in or our self-esteem begin to wane, remember that we don't have to be victims. We can recognize the difference between real life and a curated life and look up from our screens. We can embrace and live real life and not care who is watching or how many likes we've gotten. We can be free to caring what others think.

When was the last time you celebrated your anniversary or a child's birthday without social media knowing about it?

Have you known the joys that come with secret milestones that only your family knows about?

Do you keep a paper journal or another way of cataloging memories besides social media? Tell me about it!

#difficulty #Decisions #lifestyle

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Lana Leigh Wilkens is an author and speaker who helps women discover their authentic family values and challenges them to ask the right questions so they can decide with confidence and conviction.