the expectations game


| Yep, I always ride my bike in a silk skirt. With my $5,000 Chanel bag in the front basket, obvi. |

Friends, I don’t know about you, but lately the internet has been getting me down. One of the biggest problems about having access to so.much.information is that it’s become all but impossible to tune out the things that make you feel inferior. Reading about how blissful everyone else makes their life sound on Facebook while you’re curled up in a ball on your sofa with a juice glass full of rosรฉ. Scrolling through painfully perfect images on Instagram, wondering how everyone else’s houses are so full of pristine white backgrounds and custom furniture while you can barely keep the piles of discarded shoes from eating your living room. The million-dollar listings, the runway shows, the bloggers with horrible grammar getting free Gucci bags…it’s all a lot to take.

Of course, we can tell ourselves it’s fake. And we do, sometimes. We remind ourselves, in our saner moments, that these photos are posed. They are staged, lit and airbrushed and styled, sometimes by actual professional photographers. The clothes are on loan, the furniture is from a showroom, it’s all an act. “This is not real life,” we repeat to ourselves over and over. But still. That green-eyed Internet monster…she’s more powerful than you’d think.

It’s even worse when you’re in the line of work I’m in. Being a person who’s been in the style/design/writing biz for approximately 87 years, the problem is that I know. I know that these girls posting about their fabulous new dress from Brand X aren’t doing it out of the goodness of their heart. I know that when a blogger I read starts writing a little too gushingly about her newly renovated sunroom or her “preview tour” of the Nordstrom flagship store in Seattle, she got it for free. And my jealousy…lord, but it runs deep. Sure, I want the room or the trip, just like you do. But I also want the gig she got, wherein a sponsor not only designed the room for her or flew her out first class, but paid her quite a lot of money to talk about it. I want to know how she got there and I didn’t. Why she has 120,000 Instagram followers and I don’t. Instead of taking the high road and being happy for her, I’m bitter and jealous. I start to feel horrible about myself and what I’ve accomplished – or, more specifically, what I haven’t accomplished. Shame spiral for one, please.

But. Much like life in general, there’s no fairness in blogging. Longevity doesn’t equal success…nor, frankly, does quality. (As evidenced by the fact that there are bloggers making serious, serious money who can’t even be bothered to use spellcheck. But I digress.) And so we all, bloggers or lawyers or baristas, have to find a way to check our Instagram feeds or “like” our friend’s photos of her $100,000 destination wedding without feeling bad about ourselves.

We have to find a way to remind ourselves that a perfectly-staged photo of a bowl of cherries doesn’t mean a person’s life is any better than ours. It just means that they’ve spent the last 3 hours piling those cherries just so, and another hour testing different filters and strengths and saturation levels. (Or that they’ve somehow mastered VSCOcam, even though you find it utterly incomprehensible.)

My photo of that bowl of cherries, on the other hand? It was probably just okay. I almost certainly got the filter wrong or there was a smudge on the bowl or my background wasn’t perfectly, pristinely white.

Why? Because I was busy eating the cherries. And you know something? They were delicious.

If there’s a lesson somewhere in this random ramble I’ve just dropped on you (and believe me, it’s one I have to repeat to myself at least once a day), it’s this:

Eat the cherries.

Just live your life, my friend. Your hilarious, messy, imperfect, dishes in the sink, dirty laundry, occasionally beautiful life. And sure, go ahead and take a picture. Or don’t. Maybe it’ll turn out perfectly – after all, occasional moments of beauty are everywhere, even in the midst of disaster. But friends, the thing to remember is this: the photo isn’t the experience. The cherries are the experience.

So, eat the cherries. Post the photo or don’t, but eat the cherries. And enjoy every last bite.


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14 comments on “the expectations game

  1. D

    Thanks for this! Brava and amen to everything you wrote. It’s hard for the average everyday person especially re Facebook – when your day is unglamorous and you’re just trying to figure out how to feed and dress yourself while feeding your baby and someone is gallivanting off in Italy or running in the lavender fields of Provence, it’s hard not to be envious. In fact, it’s human. Don’t get me started on the eyeroll-inducing FB posts and proclamations of “look at what my lover did for me,”, “look-at-what-my-baby-is-doing,” and humble-bragging 1mil+ homes in the Bay Area and PDX.

    What I do is remind myself NOT to compare someone’s highlight reels to my behind-the-scenes! Also, I truly believe that there is an inverse relationship between how “perfect” someone’s life is on social media to their real life.

    And for the record, SMC remains one of the best fashion and lifestyle blogs out there – it is consistently WELL written, thoughtful, articulate, and a persistent cut above the rest. I haven’t been as loyal to other fashion blogs and have turned sour on them due to the crap-ass writing and decline in quality. Your work stands the test of time. Period ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. shoppingsmycardio Post author

    D: “What I do is remind myself NOT to compare someoneโ€™s highlight reels to my behind-the-scenes!” So well said! And thank you for those incredibly sweet words about SMC…you can’t imagine how much you improved my day. I’m filing them away so that I have them handy on those ugly, judgy days.

  3. Donna

    I totally agree wholeheartedly. After being to a few blogging conferences and seeing the growth that some blogs have experienced…it’s hard not to be jealous or irritated or whatever emotion you are feeling. That aside, I can NOT stand a blog that isn’t authentic. So the perfect photos with the perfectly staged (and free) furniture or products makes me not trust the blogger as much as I did before. #ad #sponsored #whatever is a clear sign that the blogger was “paid off” and doesn’t deserve my attention. Even if they say “100% of the opinions are my own.” Getting paid $150 to go to Walmart and take a photo of a display, blog about that product, and tell me how great it is is NOT an authentic way to build readership. Especially since 15 other bloggers just did the same exact thing. It’s not authentic, natural or real. So take all the pretty pictures with a grain of salt and know that they were paid to do it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And there you go. I said it. And I’m not sorry about it. ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Abbie

    I’ll just sum up my thoughts about this post with: *LIKE* Well said! We all need this reminder every now and then. Better yet, we all need to be a bit easier on ourselves. And, enjoy the cherries.

  5. Roxanna

    I’ve been struggling with this a lot lately. I am particularly susceptible to the comparison game (blame all my teenage insecurities rearing their ugly heads) and so I find almost every experience with social media lately is tinged with envy, resentment or irritation (don’t even get me started on the #blessed hashtag!) Lately I find myself just staying away from it – I can’t control it and the only way to maintain my sense of perspective about the world is to cut out the superficial social media lens altogether. Sad but true.

  6. amanda

    Truth. Every. Word. I’ve removed myself from Facebook and Instagram and am slowly weaning myself off blogs- at least those of the bloggers you mentioned above. So thanks for this.

  7. shoppingsmycardio Post author

    Amanda: I’m with you. I’ve made a point this year of clicking ‘unsubscribe’ any time I read someone’s blog or see their Instagram account and it makes me feel inferior. Life’s too short.

    Rox: Funny you should mention that. I’ve been thinking about writing something on those teenage insecurities and how they haunt us later in life. Glad it’s not just me.

  8. Susan

    I’m not sure how much more blissful life can get than being curled up on the sofa with a juice glass full of rose.

  9. Anne

    My first time here…When my husband asks me why I didn’t take a picture of some ocasion, I always answer that what my eyes have seen no one will take from me. And sorry about my english. I am Brazilian. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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