“Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
For a long time, I tortured myself by following an incredibly successful Richmond photographer on social media. She was peppy and pretty, recognized nationally for her photography, and was incredibly successful. She fell accidentally into photography and became successful quickly, while I had always wanted to be a photographer. She and her husband were full-time wedding photographers, which allowed them to travel when and where they wanted. And she was local! She had done all of that while living where I live, so location couldn’t be an excuse for why I hadn’t “made it.” I was definitely torturing myself by following her online.
I finally gave myself permission to stop seeing her posts, watching her videos, and getting her newsletters in my inbox, but not before I had become thoroughly jealous of her perfectly sculpted life. She seemed to have the professional life I wanted, and by extension, the freedom of the personal life that I longed for. I was peanut butter and jealous, as my husband says.
Then last week I went to lunch with a friend who has continued to follow the photographer online, and she asked me if I was up to date on the photographer these days. My friend handed me her phone and I saw the photographer’s newest Instagram post, with a beautiful photo of her toddler and her pregnant belly. The old sting of jealousy hit me again, and then I began reading her post. Due to potential triggers, I won’t get into the details of the post, but it brought me to tears. It was an incredibly personal post describing some severe difficulties they are facing as a family and in her second pregnancy, which doctors expect won’t be able to go full-term.
I had been so busy comparing myself to her, my professional life to hers, my offline personal life to her online personal life. This post made her suddenly human, made her life a little less glamorous, and reminded me that the only person I should ever compare myself to is my past self (to borrow another well-used quote).
All of this is just to say that no matter how close you are to someone, or how much you think you know about them, their life isn’t perfect. They may have one area of their life together that you wish you could have, but be completely unraveling in another area. Their hard battle may be invisible to you, but that doesn’t mean they’re not fighting. Just be the best version of you that you can be, and don’t let the version of someone else that you see online direct your life for you.