Dear readers, I have a secret to tell you.
Two weeks ago, when we finally launched Her Story Goes, I was absolutely terrified.
Not that you wouldn’t like it, per se, or that it’d get a bad response. (Y’all are too nice for that.) Essentially, I was scared of not being good enough for this—well, any blog.
What I just said might sound ridiculous, but let me explain. I’ll start at the beginning.
The first time I remember stumbling across a “lifestyle blog” on the internet, I was a sophomore in high school. The blog was written by Olivia Rae James, a girl who lived in Charleston and took the prettiest photos I’d ever seen. (She still does.)
I was transfixed. Every night that week, I spent hours reading her endless feed of posts instead of doing my homework or watching One Tree Hill reruns. I was a girl inspired, and sure, maybe even a little obsessed. I longed to spend my days in a charming town, taking gorgeous photos of my surroundings, and writing words that other women might find interesting. Her life seemed like a dream to me, and reading about her everyday escapades was the closest I could get to actually experiencing them myself. So naturally, I kept reading.
From then on, MySpace and Facebook took a backseat to Blogspot as I discovered site after site of beautiful words and extraordinary photographs belonging to girls all over the world whose lives seemed much more exciting than mine. Rockstar Diaries, Something Devine, Barefoot Blonde. As my collection of blogs grew, so did my fascination with the well-documented adventures of the bloggers behind the screen. Their lives weren’t perfect, I understood deep down, but their presentation was. And that was enough to fool me.
Last weekend, on our way to Dallas for Mother’s Day weekend, I opened up to my husband about the anxiety I was suddenly feeling about running my own lifestyle blog. The thing is, I explained to him in earnest, presentation has never been my strong suit. I paused just in case he might object, but he simply nodded and continued listening until I was finished with my long-winded rant.
Here’s my confession, dear readers: I’m not a photography expert, interior decorator, or chef extraordinaire. I don’t have an eye for design or mad party-hosting skills, and my “unique” sense of style is limited at best (unless yoga pants and t-shirts qualify as fashion). Creating pretty and interesting content takes a lot of effort for me—and as a perfectionist, I tend to stress over every detail. Like many of you, I live on a budget and don’t have the luxury of traveling to a different city every other week in search of inspiration, as fabulous as that would be. Instead, I work from the comfort of my beloved couch, and sometimes, a cozy coffee shop near my apartment. I love what I do, but compared to the lives of other bloggers, I wouldn’t exactly label my life a “picturesque” one.
That was when he stopped me at last. Compared to other bloggers. Aye, there’s the rub. Did you catch it? The ugly “C” word is used way too often in modern society, and unfortunately, in my own vocabulary. As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve been comparing my life to the lives of my favorite bloggers for years, simply out of habit. And it was in the car on I-45 headed north that the root cause of my anxiety became clear to me. Comparison, that pesky thief of joy, was making me feel less than adequate. And for what reason?
In the age of Pinterest-worthy weddings, expertly-curated outfits, pristinely-decorated homes, and picture-perfect families of five who seem to have a professional photographer on hand at all times, the standards feel impossibly high. It’s exhausting, quite frankly, to compete with those who appear to have it all together.
But with Scott’s help, it finally dawned on me, the simple solution to my woes. Stop competing. There is no competition. I do me, you do you. To the best of our abilities. And that’s it. A life of appreciation sans comparison is a happy one.
I love pretty images and things as much as (or even more than) the next gal. But at the end of the day, I don’t want to be the blogger who sacrifices a special moment for a good photo, or who lets her food get cold because she’s trying to angle it just right. (Guilty, y’all.) Sometimes, it’s okay to put the camera down. And that is the hardest thing for me, I think. Finding a delicate balance between living in the moment and sharing an edited version, in crafting a scene for an audience and simply letting the pieces fall where they may. But I’m working on it. Really, I am. Because a well-documented life doesn’t mean a life well lived.
Honestly, I hope my life never looks perfect to you. This is a blog about authenticity after all, and I hope, like me, you find authenticity—with all of its imperfections—to be beautiful.
// in celebration of “doing me,” here you have the Emily-est of style posts: the dress is a hand-me-down from a friend, the purse was a gift from my mom (probably from T.J. Maxx or Ross), & the sandals are from Target //