I am a person who feels. I feel things without understanding what it is I’m feeling. I feel things without knowing what I’m even thinking about. On a damn-near daily basis I’m forced to stop what I’m doing so I can search through the many layers of thoughts and feelings coursing through my body, just to figure out what the hell is bothering me. Often it’s silly little things like, Oh no, I forgot to post that letter today! But other times it’s horrible things like, I’m the worst person in the world and I totally embarrassed myself by that thing I did. Why did I do that thing? *
Lately I’ve been having a lot of feelings about social media.
It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Facebook. But I have yet to admit that I also dislike Instagram. Twitter I can handle, YouTube I love, but Facebook and Instagram? No. Any time I log into either platform, I end up with feelings. They sit in the pit of my stomach, heavy yet fluid, and eat away at my core until I confront them. Sometimes even that isn’t enough. As I write this, the social media induced feelings have been with me for days. In fact, this blog post is nothing more than an attempt to get these feelings out of my system.
When it comes down to it, Facebook and Instagram make me feel inferior. I see how many friends and fans the people I follow have and I feel small. I see images of happy families and beautiful homes and I feel inadequate. I see links to other people’s blog posts and I feel worthless. I do not have the biggest following, the happiest family, or the most shareable blog. I am just a woman behind a computer, typing and editing in my living room, while my pantsless son plays with his trains on the crumb-covered floor. I am not special. I’m just another bloody Mummy Blogger, trying to get your attention… Or am I?
I’ve lost count of how many people have commented on my blog posts commending my honesty. It’s a statement that surprises me every time. Why would I bother writing things that are untrue? Why would I pretend to be anything other than what (or who) I am? But the more I think about it, the more I realise that there are a lot of people out there who only present one side of themselves. The best side. They curate their Instagram feeds, showing only the most impressive images of their beautiful, well-mannered children. They update their Facebook pages with sweet stories about ice-creams and walks on the beach. They rave about products they’ve been sent for free, using them as props in their perfectly framed snapshots. Very rarely do they admit that their kids are driving them insane, they’re sick of being at home wiping bottoms, or that they haven’t cleaned their bathroom in two weeks. And while none of this is dishonest – we all pick and choose what we want to share with the world – I don’t find it particularly authentic.
Authenticity has become more and more important to me as I have aged. Being my authentic self is my number one goal when it comes to both blogging and vlogging. In my mind, if I’m not keeping it real I’m doing everybody an incredible disservice. Too many parents sit at home beating themselves up because they think they’re the only ones struggling to keep their kids happy and their house tidy. Too many mums feel alone and lonely because they find parenting not only difficult, but frustrating too. I’m not willing to contribute to those feelings. I’m not here to make my life as a full-time mother of four look or sound any better (or worse) than it actually is. And, though I’m not big-time enough to be featuring products or services on my blog, I can promise that if I ever do write a sponsored post, I’ll do so as authentically as possible.
As much as I hate to tell you this, when I first started this self-hosted blog I was trying to be like other parenting bloggers. I wrote a terrible post about how to find yourself again if you feel like you’re lost in motherhood. I numbered it and everything. I tried to make myself sound like an expert. Like, Oh yes, I am a wise and experienced mother and I have all the answers. Ugh. Who was I kidding? At the time I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel proud of my work, but now I know. That wasn’t me. That was me trying to be a blogger. And you know what’s stupid about that? I’m not just a blogger. I’m a writer. I write things. And I like to write about things that are real.
So whether or not it’s in my best interests in terms of becoming a successful (*cough* paid *cough*) blogger, I am resolving to only write about the things that are close to my authentic heart. I’m not going to share photos and videos of my kids, because I don’t feel right about using them to attract attention. Nor will I share a meaningless 100-word post just because I haven’t blogged in a while and I need to drive traffic to my site. I’m not criticising anyone who chooses to do those things because I get it. Any attention is good attention, traffic equals money, and people love looking at pictures of cute babies and kids. But that’s just not who I am, and that’s not who I want to be. I mean, I chose to blog under my name rather than a generic Mummy Blog title for a reason.
Before I sign off, here’s a little reminder for
those of you who battle with feelings after scrolling through Facebook or Instagram myself: The photo your friend posted of her kids playing happily on the floor does not mean she’s a better mother than you. It just means she chose to snap a quick picture while the kids were quiet and their pants were dry. And she’s probably spent a good chunk of her day ignoring them so she can get things done too. That blogger/businesswoman/creative-type you follow has thousands of fans because she’s worked hard to network herself and build up a following. That doesn’t mean she’s more talented than you. That doesn’t mean you’ll never succeed. The fact that she’s doing well for herself just proves that you can too.
Yes, the things you see on Facebook and Instagram are real. They are honest and true. But, when you really think about it, they are other people’s highlights. The best bits of their lives. Don’t beat yourself up, and don’t let the feelings get you down. Even if they are few and far between, you have highlights too.
– Fern xxx
*Yes, I am aware that the feelings I’m talking about are caused by and/or are anxiety. No, you do not need to worry about me.