The following is a guest post from my friend, Natalie, who is the blogger behind Designer Bags and Dirty Diapers. She is the one who inspired me to go for it and start a blog of my own. Her focus is fashion, food and family. I’ve made several of her recipes and even texted her once from the dressing room when trying to figure out sizing on a pair of jeans (by the way, her advice was spot on!). I think that you can tell what a genuine person she is by following her blog. Natalie and I met through our kids. Her son, Sterling and Fleet were in the same kindergarten class. She posted this article last week that I feel is relevant to a topic that I recently posted about in the Highlight Reel. I think that many of you will find her added perspective helpful. For more about Natalie, check out her blog here and follow her on instagram @snoopnattynat. And in her words, please excuse grammatical errors.
This article was originally posted on Designer Bags and Dirty Diapers.
I have a love hate relationship with blogging and instagram. I love it because it allows me to work from home and still be a stay at home mom, I love it because it allows me to be creative and share things I love, and I love it because I gain so much inspiration from others. I love my community of blogger friends and absolutely love having a sneak peek inside the daily lives of others.
The downside, and I have struggled with this quite a bit, is comparison. It is hard not to compare your life to others when you are watching everything they are doing all the time. I briefly touched on this in my last serious post about coming out of the darkness and dealing with my divorce. I have been dealing with some legit heavy stuff in my life. No heavier than other people but intense for me. Heart breaking stuff that made me really depressed. Ever since I was a little girl all I wanted was to be married to the love of my life and have kids. I never had crazy big career aspirations but I always knew I wanted to be a wife and mom. You know, live in the big 2 story brick house, have 2 kids, 1 dog and live happily ever. That dream shattered for me a year and a half ago. Ever since then it has been a hard pill for me to swallow that my life is not the norm or what I dreamed it would be. I felt lost for a long time but I am slowly starting to feel like my self again.
Watching people on instagram with loving and supportive spouses, birth new babies, build huge, new, gorgeous houses, and smiling like the perfect family was a constant of reminder of things I didn’t have. From the outside it seemed like everyone had the perfect life but me. I was a single mom and it felt really isolating and lonely. I know I had the company of my two kids but it still felt lonely. It was then I realized I needed to step back from social media a bit. I sat down and thought long and hard about all the blessings I did have in my life: 2 beautiful kids, a job that allowed me to work from home, a roof over my head, my health, food to feed my family, a car to get me places, and the list goes on. I realized you can never truly be happy when you are living in the shadow of someone else life. That is not living. Wanting things others have, wishing for a different life, that is a recipe for disaster.
I took baby steps over the last year. I used to be so concerned with what people would think when I told them Matt and I were separating and I was getting a divorce. In fact, I kept it secret for a long time only sharing with my family and best friends. I was ashamed and embarrassed. I felt like a failure on so many levels. Then I realized, you know what, this is my life, and while it may be messy and complicated and not perfect, I need to embrace it and be proud of it. I slowly started sharing more with others and stopped being afraid to say I was a single mom and going through a divorce. While I never wish this upon anyone, it has been a journey that has brought me strength and I really needed that. I became proud of my life. So what if I am not living the typical life? It is ok. Everyone walks a different walk of life. Someone once told me when I was going through my divorce, life is too short not to be happy. That really stuck with me. I want happiness.
I think in order to be truly happy you have to focus solely on yourself first. If you are not happy with yourself it is going to make all other relationships you enter difficult. Happiness comes not from others but within. For so long (and I am still guilty of this sometimes) I looked to others to make me happy, whether it be my parents, friends or boyfriends. I relied on them to cheer me up and try to make me happy. Happiness is an inside job.
You have to not care what others think about you. It is your life you are living not theirs. I used to get frequent mean and hurtful comments from people saying I was the reason my marriage had ended and I should have tried harder and been a better a wife. The audacity of people who didn’t know me really shocked me. I would never in a million years wish ill upon someone or wish for their marriage to fail. Nor would I ever take the time to email people some of the hurtful messages I received. I realize that I put my life in the public eye and share a lot so this comes with the territory. I finally have gotten to a point where I stopped caring what others think so much. Don’t get me wrong my feeling still get hurt sometimes but now I quickly brush things off and don’t dwell on them. In this blogging industry you have to have thick skin. Unless it is someone like my parents or close friends who have my best interests at heart, I don’t care or take their opinions to heart. It was a good lesson to learn: don’t put much emphasis on what others think of you. How you see yourself and what you think of yourself is so important. You need to create a life you can feel good about living.
I know what people share on instagram is not their real life, it is an edited version. Trust me, I love looking at pretty pictures as much as anyone else. I love seeing pretty outfits, perfectly styled food plates and gorgeous vacation destinations. That stuff inspires me and always will. But we have to find a way to create a life that looks pretty on the inside on too. True happiness is not from things that are bought (and you and I both know how much I love shopping) true happiness comes from being content in your own skin. Counting your blessings everyday. Thanking God for what you do have and not praying for what you don’t. I still, of course, have good and bad days, that is life. But for 2018 I have made it my goal to have a positive attitude every single day and complain less. No one’s life is perfect even if it seems that way. I guarantee you everyone has their own struggles.
I recently watched a show on Bravo called Stripped. The people who participate give up everything. Everything is moved out of their homes and they are left naked and with nothing for 30 days. Each day they are allowed to chose one item to bring back. I found the concept absolutely fascinating because it stripped things from people that they thought were so important to them. In the end their relationships flourished. They grew closer with their partners without the distraction of things. Having everything taken away helped them to realize the items that were truly important to them.
In 2018 it is my goal to be happier than ever. I shed way too many tears last year and I am ready for a fresh new year. I realize that the job of my happiness belongs to me and no one else. This took me a long time to figure out as I looked for happiness in so many places only to still remain sad. I choose to wake up each day and say, “Thank you, God.” I choose to count my blessings and not always be looking for what I don’t have. I am trying to take deep breaths and not yell at my kids as much. I am trying to read more, exercise more, cook more- all things that inspire and satisfy me mentally. I want to tell my parents and kids I love them every single day. I still like to shop way too much, and drink wine and have a short temper sometimes but that’s okay. Baby steps, right??
Do yourself a favor and read this beautiful letter a dying 27 girl wrote, it will change your life and way of thinking. It really put things in perspective for me. It broke my heart for her and moved me in so many ways. This was one of my favorite quotes she shared;
“Also, remember if something is making you miserable, you do have the power to change it – in work or love or whatever it may be. Have the guts to change. You don’t know how much time you’ve got on this earth so don’t waste it being miserable. I know that is said all the time but it couldn’t be more true. ”
You can read the letter HERE.
H A P P Y T H U R S D A Y
X O X O