Comparison is the thiefÂ of joy. – Theodore Roosevelt
This quote has been around for a hundred years, but scrollingÂ through perfectly curated Instagram accounts and idyllic blog posts, it’s more relevant than ever. Social media has an amazing powerÂ toÂ connect us, but it canÂ become a trap when we start to feel like others are “doing it better” (whatever “it” may be). Â As a photographer, I have the “behind the scenes knowledge” to know that aÂ casual #mornings pic of someone’s breakfast took about 20 different arrangements, standing on a chair, and some cold waffles to accomplish. And yet, knowing it doesn’t always make usÂ feelÂ it. I can still be completely envious of someone’s weekend plans, finished home renovations, and networking skills,Â even knowingÂ all the work that went in behind the scenes and all the imperfections we aren’t privy to.
I could tell you absurd details about all the “styled” photos posted above, (including that our kitchen ceiling has a drywall hole that’s hiding just out of the frame!) Sharing things we’re proud of and taking pretty pictures isn’t the problem (we’re all entitled to a little play on Instagram). The problem is how we let these posts distort our perception of reality.
Truth is, if I shared my 8:00am #morningsÂ picÂ there would be no coffee in a cute mug surrounded byÂ tea towels and succulents, no post-workout [sweat-free]Â selfie, no stacks of gorgeous office supplies topped with a finished to-do list. And honestly, I’m just not sure my slippered feet, fleece robe, and make-up free face (aka: home office wardrobe) would photograph very well. But that’s okay. I do what I do because I love what I do. That’s how this little business began. Nobody is callingÂ me up to photograph their family because of my DIY flower crownÂ blog posts or how great I am at styling my food before I eat it. Why lament the things we don’t do well or feel obligated to the things we don’t like, when we could be spending that energy doing things we do love and pushing toward goals that bring us joy?
There is a concept I remember from my university business classes called Opportunity Cost, and it means simply, that every decision to put our resources (aka: our time) towards one activity, is a decision to skip another. I reflect on thisÂ all the time, and I often wonder what I am giving up in order to complete an obligation that gives me no satisfaction. Â It really makes me think that if we spent one minute thinking on all the bragworthy things we’ve been working toward – milestones we’ve reached, moments we’ve cherished, and talents we possess – we’d be pretty impressed with ourselves (even without the glamorous white house backdrop, and silly styling props).
In this spirit, I am issuing a challenge for us to let go of the things we think we should be doing, andÂ instead invest our resources in whatÂ we love, our greatest strengths, and the things thatÂ make us who we are.