Comparison is a Thief

Ever sit down to a quick flick through Instagram or Pinterest in a quiet moment, only to be left with a slight feeling of longing or disappointment that your life doesn’t look like that today?

One post may have a perfect looking fashion blogger with the “perfect” body, fashion and life. The next post is a travel blogger who lives their life jet-setting from one paradise to another. The next might be a Mum who seems to have it all together...Their babies are wearing the latest fashion, potty trained in 3 days and eat every vegetable under the sun. (Toddler mums feel me…the struggle can be real!)

I have to admit I’m guilty on two accounts!

Firstly - My creative outlet is to try and create beautiful images that take you away and allow you to experience the beauty of the world around us. In doing so, my Instagram may have become one of those accounts I’m talking about. One that people may look at and think this is my daily life, frolicking in crystal clear waters and surfing every minute of every day throughout the year.

The truth is, I am extremely blessed to live in a beautiful area that allows me to enjoy and capture these incredible moments in nature from time to time and for that I am so grateful! But in reality what I don’t share to my photography page is that I am a stay-at-home mum of a 3 year old and half of the time I’m posting a photo on @amypearlphoto from the previous weekend (or previous year even!!) whilst carrying out the normal routine, getting her breaky, doing dishes and packing a bag to go run errands with her for the day. I don’t intentionally post these pretty photos to paint a misconceiving or unrealistic “perfect life” whilst leaving out all the average and monotonous details of my day (don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful for every moment!!)… but because I can’t get out and shoot everyday, I enjoy editing up old photos and sharing it as a creative outlet.

Come to a weekend when my husband isn’t working or a camping trip and I’ll shoot content to share for months!! I guess what I’m trying to say is, though some accounts really are living the “perfect life” (what even is the perfect life anyway!?) ... I’d say nearly everyone, even the top travel instagramers or models (I suspect) are very human and go through their own very normal and relatable trials every day, whilst only sharing the ‘highlight real’ to Instagram.

My second confession...lately, especially the last few months, I have been getting to shoot and surf less than ever. Or even have any time to myself less than ever. My husband has been working long hours and I have also had personal family commitments that have contributed to not getting to surf or shoot much at all. I actually haven’t set up my housing for 4-5 months. (Yep... I’m running out of content!! 🤣). My confession is that I’ve been seeing the perfect travel shots and comparing that lifestyle to my life and before I know it I’m unhealthily comparing at times. Which I’ve never done before. Thoughts creep in subconsciously as I flick through the perfect images on my screen…“Should I have waited just a little longer to have babies?” “Should I have traveled more when I had the chance?” “Why can’t we get away for a couple weeks to go camping in the sunshine?” “If only I could nail parenting like that Mum!” “If only I could surf every day like I used to!” “I’d give anything to surf those pumping waves in that clip”. The list goes on! Please don’t get me wrong, I am thankful and I am so grateful for my current season of stay-at-home motherhood but it doesn’t come without sacrifice! These brief moments of “what if’s” can catch me unawares.

Be real, have you ever done the same?

I’m a little embarrassed to even admit this because when I step back for a minute and start thinking about everything in my life I am completely overwhelmed and shocked I even thought that way!! Why was I comparing in the first place? I love the “normal” and sometimes monotonous day to day of my life. Motherhood is the most rewarding (& challenging) thing I’ve ever done. I’m in love with my family and the life we’ve created. I’m in love with even the busier and more demanding seasons because it brings us closer and shapes us to be stronger and appreciate everything even more!

There’s a somewhat cliche & well known quote... “comparison is the theif of joy.” I couldn’t agree more with this! Our generation is faced with one of the most dangerous psychological challenges in history. We are bombarded daily with images of perfection. This can be super risky as it begins to make us believe this is real life and wonder why we struggle with the ups and downs that come our way. Or sometimes even just the average parts of our week or year. Imperfection is not something to be feared! Our world is beautiful and so are we as human beings, an incredible and intricate creation and yet our world and we ourselves are flawed, and that’s ok! There is beauty and grace in that itself.

Social media and beautiful imagery can be extremely positive! As a creative outlet it can allow us to express things we can’t put into words. It gets us noticing the beauty of every day as we capture moments and share them. It inspires people with creativity, health, travel, parenting, surfing.. just for a few examples. It can build community and relationships with like-minded people across the globe. It can help to gain exposure for your business, which can in turn create freedom for you and your family to live a certain lifestyle. These are all amazing qualities of this unique time we live in!!

But I for one am going to remember each and every day that real life is beautiful. Flaws are beautiful. There’s so much more to life than always looking for highlight moments! Sometimes seasons of hard work are necessary. Its where the fruit comes from. I will remember in these moments that after valleys, there are always peaks where we are able to enjoy the view. That giving will always be richer than receiving - (Acts 20:35). That we are designed as human beings to love and serve one another - (John 13:34-35). We are called to live life to the fullest - (John 10:10). These are what brings real value and richness to our lives, more than anything.

Some thoughts on how to utilize the positive and healthy side of social media.

  • Limit screen time!! I know it’s so easy to subconsciously swipe your phone on and flick through. But do whatever it takes to limit time wisely.

  • Remember... it’s not real life! Not the whole picture anyway. Social media will fade away, focus on what is real and right in front of you!

  • Use it for creative inspiration and not comparison!

  • Build real relationships from it. Find artists, bloggers, other parents.. whatever your into and actually build a bit of real community from social media!

  • Live for the moment, not the shot. I can’t emphasize this enough. So many creators shape their weekend around the shot they want and then anguish over the Instagram stats. You’ll be so much happier planning for moments to actually enjoy and get a few shots as a bonus. Don’t live for the numbers it gives no satisfaction at all and a popular post will be forgotten by tomorrow!

  • Encourage one another. Be truly happy and encouraging for others doing their thing and think of everything you can be truly grateful for, even in the times of burn out or those mundane weeks.

  • Take time to be thankful every day! Even if there’s only a few things at the time. It is good for the soul and there are always things to be thankful for.

  • Focus on whats important. Highlights in life are amazing, those days where it all comes together with sunshine, waves and people we love. But there’s so much more to life and a greater purpose outside of living for ourselves.

Below are a handful of “highlight shots” I have captured from camping trips or weekends over the last couple years. Enjoy!

Amy Markham1 Comment