Saturday, March 21, 2015

Instagram cake envy.

The other day, I was looking at the feed on Instagram and one of my friends there had posted a picture of an amazing cake she'd just made - all by herself. I'm a good cook and I can bake all kinds of yummy stuff but I'm not super artistic so decorating stuff is always something I struggle with a bit - especially with cakes. And I suddenly felt so bad about it. I've been planning on making my son's birthday cake myself this year (last year I ordered the Mickey Mouse cake but made everything else myself) but... I could never make anything like that! So I found myself being a bit jealous of her cake skills and thinking why am I even trying - especially because how embarrassing is it now to post pictures of my son's second birthday party on Instagram (or elsewhere) with the little cake I've made when there's those kinds of cake pictures there already that everyone's seen.

Like, seriously. Source.

People are so strange on social media - it's like this weird culture where everyone has to seem perfect. At everything they do. And everyone has to be living a really full life and telling all about it on Facebook. Because you also have to share everything. Just so no-one will think you're not doing all this stuff - and so that other people can be a bit jealous. And you are jealous because it seems no one else has bad days, they never burn dinner, they don't have bad hair days and they make perfect cakes. Because you never see the times they don't.

And I'm no better. I realized some time ago that I did that too. I would post pictures on Instagram (and before I had that on Facebook, but that I don't like to use that much anymore) of everything I did every day so that no one would doubt I was loving my life (because I genuinely do love my life) and never show if I was having a bad day. I'd post a pretty picture of myself so that no one would think I'm not pretty. And I'd show pictures of stuff I'd made (clothes, desserts, holiday decor) to somehow "prove" (I'm not sure to whom) that I did those things and that I was good at the stuff I liked to do. I would never take a picture of a sewing project gone wrong (um, which totally happens) or a selfie on a bad hair day.

But then I realized something that made me feel really bad - what if someone feels bad about my pictures and what I do? I would never want to make other people jealous, that's not nice. I also didn't want to sound like I was bragging because I hate it when people do that. Doesn't it actually say a lot about my lack of confidence if I feel the need to prove to others what I am all the time? I'm definitely not perfect, why did I need everyone to think I was? Won't that just make them feel just as bad as I feel when I think someone else is perfect at everything they do?

I had to take a break. I stopped using all social media for a while when I was thinking this through. I actually stopped blogging too because of all this - why did I need to make such a big deal about me anyway? What was my motivation for all my posts - then mainly consisting of pictures of me in different outfits (like a fashion blog - I like clothes.) and outings with my son. Was it just that I liked it, and I didn't see any harm in sharing what I liked to do and was happy about? Or was it to show off and/or make other people jealous of my style, my family, my life? I would never do that, would I? Or was I desperate for some sort of approval - because I found myself desperately hoping for comments, which proves I wasn't doing it just for my own fun.

I actually felt really sad about this and didn't know what was the right thing to do. But it's weird - since everyone else does this, you kind of feel pressured to too. Because if you don't tell everywhere what you do, they (yes, THEY.) will think you don't do anything special. Because it's the norm now that if you do something worth sharing, you share. Right? On Valentine's Day I made a cute little breakfast with a fun table decoration and I took a picture of it just for myself as a family memory with no intention to post it anywhere. But then I thought that what if people (THE PEOPLE.) will now assume I didn't do anything special for V-day because I didn't post a picture (especially since I did post a picture last year of my table) - or that I failed at something, or that I'm having a bad day? And then I just had to post it. I'm sure it's the same with people who, for instance, use one of those fitness diaries on Facebook - you have to then mark down every time you exercise because otherwise you're afraid people will think you didn't do anything today and spent the whole day eating donuts - and that might feel embarrassing. What if you just don't want to share something you did or made because you really don't feel the need right now, don't have time or you just don't want to brag .. but then everyone will think you didn't do it or that you're probably not good at what you just did because you didn't share? But who are you then doing this for? Are you really doing these things (like exercise or fun Valentine's Day tables - or blogging) for yourself (and/or your family) or just so you can show off with it? (Right now, I'm positive I'm writing this blog just for my own fun because I haven't yet told anyone about it. Except for two people. Ha. That kind of makes me feel more free to do what I want, at least for now, and not think what people might want to read.)

...But who are these "people" and "they" anyway?

Are they all just in your head and no-one really cares as much as you think they all do? Is it anyway just you who cares too much about what other people think, if they do?

I think the whole Facebook/Instagram/whathaveyou media is making us a bit narcissistic. And a bit paranoid.

But I really do like the social media for seeing how everyone is doing - especially since I spend most of my time at home and most of my friends are still studying or working and don't have any kids yet so I don't get to see them that often. And Instagram is my favorite way to share what we are doing - especially to my parents and in-laws who also see my pictures (my account is private and I've only accepted about 20 followers all of who I know personally). And I love getting ideas from other people and I genuinely feel really happy for my friends when they look super pretty in their pictures or manage to do something I know they've really dreamed of doing. I don't find myself getting jealous a lot because I have no reason to. But it might be more common for other people who are not necessarily satisfied with their lives right now and someone else is living the life they want or maybe have the sort of body they dream of having - and even I have those little moments like the cake incident. (Which obviously comes from me not being confident in my own cake-making.)

I do sometimes find myself rolling my eyes when someone is really just showing off and bragging, though, especially if it's done with the intention of making other people jealous. Because that's just never cute. I have a friend on Facebook who I know can draw one good picture she's practiced for years but not much anything else and the other day she posted it there with "Oh, just quickly sketched something", obviously hoping for lots of "Wow, you're so good!" comments (she does that a lot with other things too and also puts other people down in order to seem better herself). What I also don't like is people bragging about the good deeds they do, like how much money they put in the charity box today (epecially when it was just that one time in five years they did that but want to sound like they're saints). I think the social media makes people lack humility too. Humble people always seem even better at what they do, and prettier and generally more likeable.

But you can usually tell when someone's genuinely just excited and happy and that makes me happy for them. I also think it's really great when people share what they do, especially when they're really good at it, and even teach other people to do it too - like a baking blog where they teach you how you can decorate your cake like that too. Because it's not like if you have skills, you just need to keep them hidden in case someone feels bad about it. People can enjoy other people's skills like beautiful art, music and dance moves. What if Taylor Swift (love her music) had never shared her songs with anyone and had the guts to go out and perform them? But everyone isn't and doesn't have to be good at everything. And if you really want to be good at something, you can practice - like me decorating cakes. And you can also give credit to the ones who are good at different things - they can even teach you.

And when you think about how low someone's self confidence must be if they so desperately need other people's approval, then let them have it. Or if someone's so sad with how their life is right now that they just cry when they see other people get it right when they just don't, that truly feels bad and maybe you can try to help them, or at least give some friendly support. Definitely not rub it in their face how much better you are doing. And you, on the other hand, can try to be happy for your friends and not envy them, as hard as that may be, and love yourself for who you are.

That's the Christian thing to do.

And so what if I don't make a perfect cake - I'll learn and it'll most likely still taste good. And it will be made with love and both my son and my husband will still love me - and my effort. And I now have to post it on Instagram even if it's terrible, after this speech. Ha! I can always turn it into one of those hilarious "nailed it" photos you see on Pinterest!

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