Around this time last year, I suddenly stopped blogging after a brief period of being online.
In hindsight, I can pinpoint exactly what led me to forgo the blog. Falling newly pregnant with my second daughter is one obvious factor. I was feeling physically sick and tired, but more so, I was feeling emotionally and mentally tapped out from the online world.
Using social media everyday lead to feelings of inadequacy, not ‘measuring up’ against other moms who seemed to have their shit together, and constant worries about others’ opinions of me. Sadly, my depression and anxiety that I had decent control over started to engulf me.
This blog that I worked so hard in launching suddenly became a daunting, seemingly insurmountable obstacle I couldn’t overcome. My inner critic became louder and more convincing than ever: “Who actually cares about what you write?”, “You’re not stylish enough.”, “You’ll never be good enough.”, and “You’ll never succeed.”
Depression can be one hell of a beast.
I abruptly left the online sphere, giving in to my inner critic. It was much easier for me to remove myself from the possibility of criticism, hurt, and potential failure, than to risk actually going through any of it. In the end, though, the only person I hurt was myself.
Over the years I have developed this pattern of starting personal projects and then quickly abandoning them, the excitement fizzling out with the onset of paralyzing fears and worries. Namely, that I simply wasn’t good enough or that people would criticize and judge me.
This is the year I want to break that cycle.
I have missed my blog this past year, sharing and cultivating a community based upon a set of shared values. I miss being creative. I miss having an outlet to share the ups and downs of being a millennial working mom.
So, here I am, starting again. This time though, there isn’t an end goal. Instead, I have an intention for the New Year: vulnerability. I want to embrace the unknown even if that means I might face judgment from others or even my own feelings of inadequacy.
Simply put, I want to put myself out there.
I want my approach to be more relaxed when it comes to the blog, and more specifically, social media. I really don’t want to have to hem and haw over every post or image before hitting “publish”. Being mindful of the image you want to project is one thing, but curating your entire life to meet someone else’s standard is exhausting and quite frankly, demoralizing. Is there always going to be someone out there with nicer clothes, a bigger house, and more exotic vacations? Yes, absolutely. Do all those things mean that person is happier? No, not necessarily.
I understand much of what we see on social media, specifically Instagram, is a curated look into the life of someone else. I get it. Many of these accounts are brands, in which colours, typography, and grid layout are strategically and thoughtfully constructed to convey an overall message. The thing is, even while knowing all of this, it is incredibly hard to see all these seemingly perfect images and feel like we don’t measure up.
So, what does all this rambling mean for me?
Well, here’s how I’m approaching my intention of vulnerability this year:
Talking about it! I think so many of us are dealing with these feelings of depression and inferiority but seldom do we talk about it openly. In writing this post, which is a HUGE step for me in terms of exposure, I hope that anyone reading this can relate on some level, and ultimately, not feel so alone.
Not letting my inner critic dictate my life and rob me of potential happiness. Writing makes me happy, so to stop something that brings me joy for fear of potential criticism is only unfair to me. Besides, I want to set a positive example for my girls and show them that you shouldn’t give up on your dreams because of the scary unknown.
Be more authentic and open. I know, I know, we hear all the time about being your authentic self online, which is often at odds to the curated feeds we present. For me, this doesn’t mean I’m suddenly going to do away with a coordinated feed (I do happen to like a branded look), but rather, try to perhaps incorporate some more candid photos of my life or even (gasp!) my own face without stressing about reaction/feedback.
Being present. The practice of mindfulness is somewhat of a work-in-progress for me. I have to consciously remind myself throughout the day to live in the “now” and be aware of my surroundings. This means putting down the phone around my children as well as being more critical of the media I consume. To do this, I like the idea of implementing a minor digital detox in which I set time limits for daily social media consumption.
And, most importantly, have fun. Well, duh, it seems pretty obvious that this endeavour should bring me happiness and not dread but really, I need to remember not to take myself so seriously all the time.
If you have read this far, I’m seriously impressed (and slightly flattered), and also, THANK YOU! I hope that you will continue to follow along with me through the ups and downs in this journey of balancing work and motherhood.
I can’t predict what the future holds but I can commit to trying to be more vulnerable this year—and I think that’s what matters most.