What You See, What I See…

One of the biggest pitfalls of social media has to be comparisonitis; when you’re feeling low, seeing an Instagram post that shows someone who seemingly has it all, or is gliding through life with ease, can be enough to make you feel deflated, despondent and often, quite simply, resentful. 

For mothers, this can be particularly pronounced: perhaps you’ve picked up a shop-bought cake for your child’s birthday, only to see another mum post an image of an amazing, intricately-iced cake that she’s just rustled up; or you watch a carefully-curated reel of a family’s perfect, activity-filled Saturday, when you’ve only just about survived a day of relentless tantrums and squabbling; maybe you see a fellow mum posting her meticulously-coordinated outfit, when you are yet to even wash your hair and change out of pyjamas. All of this can exacerbate the constant undercurrent of mum guilt that so many of us suffer.

I know the feeling all too well, and yet I often find clients or followers will kindly compliment me on how I seem to have mastered the work/life balance. Well, I wanted to share the reality: while my Instagram videos may look polished – yes, I’ve probably taken a moment longer to touch up my make-up and put on a clean top – beyond the screen, I’m contending with the usual chaos of family life (see the sea of toys that was in my eye line as I recorded my latest video). 

What you also don’t see is how many takes of one video I’ve done. Recently it took me nearly two hours to record a 10min video. There are several bloopers which I’ll share on my Instagram at some point! 

I recently sent a proposal to a company that I wish I had taken longer to edit (but in reality, I didn’t have the time); and I also waved goodbye to a woman that was interested in my coaching on a Zoom call. I was so embarrassed, I was cringing to myself as I sent her a follow-up email!

So many of us present a version of ourselves – not only on social media, but in everyday life – that projects that we have everything in control. We feel a pressure to be seen to be able to do it all – even when behind the scenes we feel like we are on an accelerating treadmill, that we simply can’t get off of. 

What can you do:

  • I often advise clients to consider a social-media clean up and unfollow accounts that don’t make you feel good about yourself. You don’t need to add that to your headspace
  • Understand that what you are seeing is a moment in time, that’s often got a team of people ensuring it looks like that – from stylists, to make-up artists and a post-production team. BTW I wish I had a team helping me some days – I’ve learned how to be more confident and tested which clothing works well on camera.
  • Be you. You don’t need to be anyone else. If you’re someone that loves to dress up then do it. If you’re someone that is casual and fun, then let yourself be that person.
  • Outsource where you can whether you’re a working or stay at home parent and don’t feel guilty about it. Please don’t feel bad for buying a store-bought birthday cake (I certainly don’t. Even though I love to bake, I don’t have time at the moment!)
  • Know that if you want a bit of help, all you need to do is ask for it.

This is important because if we are constantly comparing ourselves to others, we diminish our own self esteem. 

We need a good self esteem to function, especially to work. Did you know that within the first three years of work, a women’s self confidence has diminished by 60%? 

Your confidence can really either hold you back at work, or propel you forward. Arm yourself with the knowledge that we don’t all have our sh*t together, no matter how it looks. 

I started The Women’s Vault after seeing just how tough it is for working women and mothers, and how little support and resources were available for those who are struggling. 

A recent study by Ohio State University showed by 66% parents met the criteria for parental burnout (68% of mums felt burnout, in comparison to 42% of fathers). 

If you’re struggling, do send me an email at oliviabath@thewomensvault.com to find out how I can help you, or you can sign-up to receive my monthly newsletter of tips, tricks and tools to help you to juggle it all because I’m right in there with you too – juggling a child, family and career.

Olivia x