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imperfections
February 23rd, 2012     |    Business AdviceLifeThink About It

On the coat tails of my post about my abs, I think there’s something I’d like to discuss a bit more.

The idea of being authentic online. 

There were many people who mentioned on that post that they enjoyed my authenticity here on MML. And I appreciate that so much. Those who may not have been reading MML for long might not really know this, but I try to be very honest about things that I go through. Though I don’t drag drama with friends, family, or other people here (I respect their privacy), I do explore my own learning curve in living an intentional life.

It’s actually kind of funny, now I only get surprised when people don’t automatically know that my life is not all sunshine and roses, and that I’ve battled a lot of tough stuff like smurgging, weight, growing a business, and a million other things. In fact, I actually made a conscious decision at the end of last year to be more positive here on MML and share the good things in my life as well as the negative ones.

And yet, for those who may be new to MML and not know all the back story, it might seem effortless for me. Or, those that have been reading rather consistently, might tend to forget the rough battles I’ve faced and focus on my stomach or a new product launch.

In fact, I think this is a common phenomenon that happens online while looking at other people as well. It is easy to think that super successful people (whatever that means) have it easy – or at least easier than us. That they either haven’t struggled, or that they did struggle a little bit and then “made it” and all their problems melted away.

But the thing is that as I’ve watched some of my friends do amazing things online, I’ve seen what it takes and all of their own flaws and humanity. So though it may be not so clear that what they do is difficult and not-so-pretty sometimes, the truth is that they have worked their asses off, faced financial risk and unknowns, felt heartbreak, and just kept going.

Additionally, I think that part of this disconnect from what people online seem like and what their life really is like comes from the incredible leaps in technology and prowess. Years ago when blogging began, not many people had access to incredible (and affordable) digital cameras, expensive editing programs, a network of friends doing amazing things worldwide, and a real understanding of how to share their story with the world. People were novices back then and things didn’t look quite as “pretty” as they do now.

We’ve come a long way and the content we create can simply be more beautiful looking.

And in an effort to present a polished brand, execute content at the highest level, and just generally keep improving their online efforts, it starts to look like they aren’t human anymore if they don’t take the time to tell us all the troubles they face behind the scenes.

Please believe me when your ego wants to tell you that X, Y, and Z have it all figured out that they don’t. They are just as clueless as they challenge themselves to new heights in their career as the rest of us. Sure, experience can vary immensely, and even fate can super charge the new kid on the block, but everyone is still struggling, hurting, and growing.

What’s more, I think that it’s easy for us to read the amazing blogs out there and think that the people are living a life of perfection. Some people might come off this way because they want to create the best content based on their topic as possible. They aren’t purposefully not sharing the ugly parts of their life because they want to hide it, it’s simply about executing a professional brand. People with insanely popular interior design blogs, for example, spend their time focusing on luxe interiors made by amazing designers rather than about their cystic acne, debt, or depression. It’s simply not on topic. Or they might want to keep their private life… private.

Fashion blogs can also be a slippery slope in this area as well. Such beautiful women with amazing style and wardrobes? I gotta do my best to keep in mind that there are a ton of other pictures that didn’t make the cut for their post that day. Same goes for Facebook photo albums.

Or, there are the people that we can look up to that we admire so much we block out the hard stuff they talk about and focus instead on all of their blessings. I know that I look up to Bri and sometimes think she’s “got it all figured out,” but then I remind myself that she recently shared this. Or, I can think that Joanna has a life of sunshine and roses and then I remember this. So this is all to say that we can also sometimes have selective memory and value their positives more than their negatives. When in fact their own personal experience of the negative parts of their life can be way more overpowering than we realize.

And finally, there is the last deception that is easy to forget: how much time, effort, and work goes into the execution of some of the highest level sites out there. While Alaina and Danielle launched The Everygirl yesterday to a huge fanfare, I’ve watched them create this site from just an idea while we were drinking wine a year or so ago to a full-fledged destination. They have worked from 8am to midnight recently in preparation for the launch and to still do their day jobs to support themselves. They have given the site every ounce of their life for the past several months and that hard work paid off. Which is fantastic, but also shows how much sacrifice can be involved as well.

Phew! I actually have no idea if this post is something that will help people or not. But the thought of anyone thinking that people doing awesome things online are any better than the rest of us is simply too much to bear.

We all have our unique contributions to the world, some might be more visible than others. But we all are human and we all are just trying to flourish despite the challenges we face – publicly or privately.

  • Lindsey

    I am just finding your blog but already I can tell you how much I appreciate your honesty! It’s not too often people can write with so much heart and great intentions! I am excited to continue following your journey!
    http://lindseyyoung.net

  • such a good point to remember these days! in our super social and connected world, brands and the people behind them blur and merge and it’s SO easy to forget that there is still a line between the real person and the brand they are presenting. it’s refreshing to see the kind of authenticity in the posts you pointed out, to remind us that no one’s perfect, but i also think it’s really valuable from a brand perspective (to a certain extent of course, without airing all kinds of crazy dirty laundry), because it makes things relatable on a human level and helps create a stronger bond between the brand and its audience.

  • Such a great post Jess! I actually just wrote something in regards to this recently, but from the other side. That often bloggers get held up on a pedestal for the blogs they produce but that on the flip side they are so much MORE than the blogs they produce. They are wives and mothers and sisters, they often times have hobbies outside their blog that they don’t showcase, or are deeply spiritual, etc, etc to the point that the blog is only the tip of their personal narrative.

    But what I think it all boils down to is our humanity. We all put our pants on one leg at a a time, we all have bills to pay, errands to run, brothers, sisters and parents. I think what blog readers (including myself at times) forget is the mere humanity of bloggers. We are all people! No one is exempt from daily life struggles and joys.

  • Sometimes, when I read others’ blog posts, I think to myself, “Oh what fun they’re having, they look amazing, they must life the best life!” You never really know what’s going on beyond the post, you know? It is definitely easier to present something more polished about yourself (good photos, cute anecdotes) than going a little deeper with your private life. Online posts usually have “edit” buttons, real life does not (I wish, haha!)

  • Another inspiring post. Thanks Jess for always keeping it real here. I constantly admire your integrity and ability to challenge us to be the best version of ourselves.

  • beautifully written, jess. it seems joanna’s post earlier this week did for you what it did for me. i think inserting that honesty every once in awhile like she did (and you do all the time) gives the reader context that then allows them to trust the blogger and any advice/recommendations/opinions they may give later.

  • I’m such a fan of you and MML. *hug*

    HAPPY FRIDAY EVE, Jess!

  • This is great to remember – thank you for articulating it so well.

    I struggle so much. I constantly think about changing things up, trying a new direction/look/name with my blog, how to make it better, how to increase my audience, how to break into freelancing … and sometimes when I see people who seem to be just DOING it … it makes me feel sad. It inspires me for a minute because they’re doing it. But then I start to question myself and think about the feeling of being trapped in my office job with no time or motivation to really do what I care about and it is tough.

    But it’s good to be reminded that it’s work and that everyone has to work at it, no matter how perfect their blog/site/business/abs 😉 may look. There are no obstacles I face that someone else hasn’t faced and surmounted. So the reminder that we all struggle sometimes actually becomes encouraging.

  • I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, too. My best friend and I were talking the other day about how easy it is for women our age to berate themselves, their accomplishments, their relationships, their bodies, for not being “up to par” with other people, and how social media (particularly Facebook and Pinterest) factor into that self-loathing and “smurgging.”

    So thankful that there are women like you and Bri and Joanna that continue to be transparent and honest in a culture that likes to compartmentalize and “design” a life that hides the struggle for success. <3

  • this is such a difficult concept in our highly internet-centric world. As a “fashion blogger” I find it hard to strike the balance between keeping it real, and showing the world my life through a filter… something to always strive towards and work for.
    thanks again for your inspirational words
    xx

  • Thanks for expanding on this Jess. Great post!

  • It took me a long time to understand this, and you’ve written about it beautifully. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by what everyone else is accomplishing and how perfect their lives seem that you can easily forget what YOU have to offer. I think when you look at the what others are doing, you just have to train yourself to stop thinking “I could never do that” and start thinking about how you can make it happen in your own way.

  • Amen, Jess. Thanks so much for this reminder. It’s tough when you see such beauty, success and achievement online . . . while I’m always excited for those I see, it’s hard to fight that jealousy that creeps in slowly and surely. We all have our imperfections for sure, and I think there is strength in remembering that. When we acknowledge that no one is perfect, it makes it all the more exciting to celebrate accomplishments with others!

    Read this blog post last week and it connects so well with yours: Everybody carries a pee cup (http://newlife919blog.blogs.com/new_life_919_blog/2012/02/everybody-carries-a-pee-cup.html). The basic idea is that we’re not alone in our awkwardness or in our imperfection. I think you’ll enjoy it!

  • I was just reflecting on all of this earlier today. In the blog world, is very easy to feel like the awkward, nerdy girl in high school surrounded by a sea of beautiful cheerleaders, and then you realize that blogs, twitter and instagram are just PIECES of someone’s life. We are all getting every chance to edit and revise the content we put out there, so its normal not to see everyone’s struggles or imperfections if some of us choose not to share them. I do really appreciate you sharing yours.

    Great post, Jess 🙂

  • Mia

    Hello Sweetie,

    Just wanted to thank you for having such an inspirational blog. Hope you have an amazing week full of lots of beautiful things.
    Feel free to drop past my blog if you have time =)

    -Mia xoxo
    http://naturezfinest.blogspot.com/
    http://mias101challenge.blogspot.com/2012/01/day-zero-project.html

  • It is really so easy to get lost in the positive aspects of peoples lives in the blogging world – 99% of the time it is all we see. We forget how much goes on behind the scenes, not only the work that goes into their blog/business, but also outside of that world of pretty images and exciting blogging adventures they are real people with real people’s problems. We really never know what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes so I think it’s so important to be grateful for what we have and be happy for the good things others have – you never know the battles they’ve gone through to get there.

    Loving these ‘keeping it real’ posts!

  • Dear Jess,
    Thanks You so much for this article!
    I run an online business making money on my glass jewelries. My blog, my jewelries are very popular here in Hungary.
    I hear it many-many times, how lucky I am. Which is true and I am thankful to God for that. But it is not only luck. Building a business with 3 small kid is not easy. Making banners and blogposts 2 am is not easy. I am not complaining, I LOVE what I do. But many people just see it as a big happy business. No struggles, no hard times. I don’t like to show hard part either, but it makes many people jealous.
    It was good to read your thougts and the other bloggers having hard times.
    Big thank you for that!

    Zsuzsi

  • CB

    Another great post! You are right, Jess – we are all human. We are all loved, we are all important, and we all have jobs to do and things to contribute positively in our own way. At the same time, we all face our own unique challenges and hurt along the way. Instead of getting discouraged by measuring ourselves against the success of others, we need to remember these things so that we can support and learn from each other.

    Thanks for speaking so candidly about these topics on your blog. You are a good writer with good ideas and I love reading your posts!

  • Such a great post!
    Thank you for sharing with us….this post is a great reminder that I do not need to beat myself trying to be like everyone else and to do just what im good at and that there’s always a struggle and challenges that everyone else goes through and we don’t always all see that side of it.
    Thank you again!
    Luckly i happen to stumble upon your gorgeous jewelry today and decided to read your blog.
    Keep up the good work!
    x
    Cindy

  • There’ve been several articles about this recently – that people get depressed watching their friends (their everyday friends, not just internet celebrities) post things on Facebook as people tend to post the good more than the bad. I’m SO thankful for people being honest online – that’s part of the reason I talk about my struggles with my weight and self-image. I love the idea of the internet helping people who think they are alone in their struggles realise that they are not.

  • Hi Jess,

    I’ve just found your blog and really like it. Like Helena who wrote above, I’ve been seeing a lot out there about facebook depression (ie- people think their lives are worse than they are because they read only great things about others’ lives). This was a good one about teens and facebook depression: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42298789/ns/health-mental_health/t/docs-warn-about-teens-facebook-depression/#.T0o5I5h98tA

    I wrote about blog envy on my blog as well: http://modernhousewivery.com/2012/02/24/blog-intimidation/

    I appreciate what you said about how everyone is struggling and growing! So true.

  • Exactly what I needed to hear!
    I love reading your insights. They are such helpful & inspiring reminders to focus on the things that make us unique and special. I was also so excited to read your post on The Everygirl earlier today. I kept thinking, “I feel like I’ve read stuff from this writer before…” But I didn’t know who wrote it until i got to the end, saw who the author was, and had an “AhHa!” moment 🙂 Even your writing has its own memorable character to it!

  • Pingback: intentions and self-confidence | Makeunder My Life()

  • I really really enjoyed reading this. There are definitely some online personalities that I find mystifying in all their apparent popularity and success (Bri is a huge one). It seems as though they must have some magical ingredient in their arsenal that “the rest of us” simply weren’t born with. I know that thinking is false, but I absolutely needed to be reminded of that!

    As a humble blogger, I often find myself contemplating how much “personality” I want to convey in the way I write. Some bloggers stay rather professional and only “surface deep” so to speak, and they do very well with that style. While others are unabashedly 100% themselves, flaws, language, quirks and all. I struggle with what level of professionalism is appropriate. Anyways… a bit of a tangent. I SO LOVE THIS BLOG!

  • Margie

    I read the comment somewhere that said, don’t compare your documentary to some else’s highlight reel. I loved that thought.

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