I started writing a letter to my 21 year old self, she was fabulous for sure, rested, great skin and the world ahead of her, but oh the lessons I have to teach her now that I am 35 years old. I thought being 35 was going to feel different, I am sure everyone has said this, but I didn’t realize the amount of self confidence I would find in my mid thirties, I would love to go back to my 21 year old body, before kids for sure, but I would not trade the lessons I have learned and finding out who I am at 35 verses when I was 21.
I have always been acutely aware of what other people are saying and judging, it is a super power but also an Achilles heal. I love people watching but have also been too aware of how people react to what I say or do. I am sometimes paralyzed in my reactions, to not want to offend people, but my 35 year old self is coming to grips with this. My family would tell you that I am a very out going and energetic person, but in social settings that I am not familiar with I am very quite and reserved. I want people to like me and don’t want to come out of the gate blaring until I know who is there. I have always been this way, a people pleaser to the core, but not pleasing myself. I am shocked it has taken me 35 years to figure this out, but am also glad it has not taken me 45 years. As I get older I am focused more on surrounding myself with people who judge less and who enjoy and support life and less with pleasing others. Life is a journey and I want people on this journey who lift me and my family up. We are going to have a great time, but you have to be in for the good and the bad times. The beauty of our challenges comes on the other side, where we can all celebrate the depths we have climbed out of as a community. Yes we can celebrate small and large challenges together, but through the good and the bad we are there together. This is what I want to tell my 21 year old self, surround yourself with people who love and support you that will build you up and challenge you to be the best you can be! They will fit for you and not against you, and that is what you need in life! Life is tough, life is not easy and it is not perfect, but there is beauty and joy in life.
I say a lot that I love to hate social media. It is wonderful to keep up with friends and family from near and far to see what their families are doing and to let them see our kids growing up, such great interactions and something we would not have without social media. My distaste for social media is high at times, the way in which we treat each other on the other side of an idea, we MUST be right, they must be wrong and it is just the internet, no hurt feelings, right? We create divides with our “friends and family” and we have not even left our couches, this is why I don’t like social media. The pros out weigh the cons for me, as you may well know, since I am still on social media. But it is not a simple thing, it is a daily check and balance for me.
A dear friend of mine was sharing a wonderful quote the other day and it struck a chord with me:
“Comparison is the thief of Joy” – Mark Twain
Mark Twain didn’t have social media, how could he pin this quote so perfectly for something so new? As you now know, I have always wanted to fit in, then add social media into the mix that is a disaster for sure. I do think that comparison is the thief of Joy, but I think you have to examine the comparison which is my check to myself. This is not simple, nor is it easy, but this is how I process my comparison and keep my self in check with reality.
Scrolling through social media we see on average 5% of people’s lives, which I am glad we don’t see 100% of each others lives. 🙂 Why would I compare my 100% to someone else’s 5%, this doesn’t make sense. Everyone looks tan, thin and their kids are perfectly put together! Geez my kids barely leave the house with both shoes on and a jacket, how can these people pull this off? This is the problem, my comparison to their life, that mom was probably up all night prepping for her kids to look perfect the next day, we don’t wake up and pull perfect pictures with kids out of the air. We should celebrate this mom or dad for getting their kids out the door, iron, matching and with smiles! I am guilty of being jealous of people’s pictures, but I have to bring myself back to reality on this, these pictures are beautiful and this family made the effort to get dressed and take pictures. That alone is a milestone that should be celebrated and not diminished by my comparison.
We also get caught up in a lot of professional pictures and retouching on social media, no matter how you feel about this subject, it is very present. I follow many people who work very hard on getting their social media content on brand for them, this takes a huge amount of time and effort, but is not easily compared to me snapping a picture of my kids on the play ground with my cracked iphone. I love following people on social media of all ages, but it is hard to see younger people at times. They look like they get a lot of sleep and have really tight skin. No joke, but I once was in their place and really enjoyed my sleep and my skin. Now I am 35 and want that skin again and would kill for that sleep again! I know how vain this sounds, but I think we all need a check with social media, everyone is not perfectly air brushed all the time. Life happens, we are silly, messy, tired and have a great time. We need to celebrate the effort and time people put into getting this wonderful content that we are all drooling over, but it is a lot of hard work, that should not be compared to anything but that.
I love my kids pictures, even the out takes, they are my children and I will treasure these pictures forever. I have always had my own personal social media accounts to connect with friends and family, but the thought of starting one for my blog was the most daunting task. I don’t have money for a photographer to shoot me and my family, nor do I have the time. How was I going to create content that my community would want to interact with? Were my pictures going to be enough to interest people?
Yes, they are enough because they are mine and they are authentic! I believe there is room enough for both the perfectly staged pictures and the perfectly in the moment pictures on social media. This is life, it is a balance of all things, but I have loved giving myself the freedom of posting pictures and content that is not 100% perfect. I didn’t set out to create a blog that is perfectly constructed, it is about our family life and how we are trying to figure it all out. Things happen, life happens and we are here to capture it, this happens in words, feelings and pictures, but they are not all magazine worthy. My 35 year old self has embraced this, but my 21 year old self would be so very embarrassed.
You are enough – stop comparing yourself to others.
Last advice, if you can’t stop comparing yourself to others, stop following those people on social media. Build yourself up, don’t tear yourself down.
Kathy McAllisterMarch 27, 2019 at 5:49 pm
It blows my mind that you are now such a real grown up 35 year old! I vividly remember meeting you at after completing your “Glamour Shot” session. Your Uncle Tom had to pick me up from the floor when he told me you were just 10! You have always impressed me Amy with your kindness and humor, now you are inspiring me with your blog! Your Grandma and Grampa MAC if they were here would be especially proud of you and your family! You’re sure to feel their love every day!
Love you, “Aunt” Kathy
Amy ShookMarch 27, 2019 at 8:47 pm
You are so sweet to share those kinds words! Thank you so very much for the amazing compliment and thank you for reading along!! Love to you both!!