Pinterest perfectionism

It was an average day. I’d trudged through the morning routine and had just flopped on the couch for five mindless minutes of Facebooking before my daughter discovered I was not within a 15 cm radius. I scrolled through all the usual kid pic posts and summer vacation updates until I came across one post that made my heart drop. It was nothing really – a few photos put up by an old friend, but it was enough to make me feel crummy. Three girls I knew years ago, each of whom now has two kids at home, had just come back from hiking the West Coast Trail together.

If you’re not familiar with it, the West Coast Trail is a notoriously grueling route along the coast of Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island, recommended for experienced backpackers only.

Completing the trail is not only a significant accomplishment, it comes with bragging rights.

Let me be honest. Most days I’m feeling pretty proud if I manage to make the beds and wash the breakfast dishes before lunch time. A significant accomplishment is making dinner. My life is small – as small as a three-year-old girl and her miniature laundry and little plastic toys and pebble collections in purses. My heart is as big as it’s ever been, but my life is small. And it doesn’t take much to make me feel small too.

Somewhere among the tasks of each day that in and of themselves can seem meaningless, I become a blazing target for Pinterest-perfectionism and Facebook inadequacy. Page after page of princess-themed kids’ parties and magazine-worthy kitchen renos and ideas for squeezing kale into each of your three daily meals can make it tough to be proud of the semi-circular birthday cake sitting lopsidedly on my 1990-era laminate counter top. 

This comparison problem is not limited to social media; it swells well beyond my devices and into my conversations and relationships. I’m sure there are women out there with abundant self-esteem who never compare or compete, but I have to admit, it can be hard for me to talk to the friend who never feeds her kids sugar or see the mom at school with the skyrocketing career and the size-2 waist without feeling, well, less than. Trying to keep up is no use; there is an endless supply of standards to measure myself against.

The comparison virus

Feeling inadequate, small and less-than is as old as dust. We were born into, and with, the comparison virus insofar as we understand ourselves in relation to others. On some days life feels rich and meaningful because of the people in it, but there are bad days too, days it’s easy to fall victim to a Facebook post because of inexhaustible loads of laundry and toys that magically reappear on the floor seconds after being put away and a thousand thankless tasks that nip away at my energy yet never amount to anything. On those days relationships can turn on me and so can my own thoughts as I yield to the idea that I am not enough, can never be enough.

But then I have to remind myself that the One who wrote my identity in the first place has offered me freedom from this sickness. As with so many of his gifts, it is available if I will just take it. The hard part is knowing what that looks like.

Maybe it begins with keeping an eye on the image I’m painting with my own Facebook posts. I shudder at the thought, but maybe it means inviting a friend into my house before it’s been cleaned. Maybe it means admitting to the moments I feel weak and weary while they are happening. And lately I’ve been sure it also means soaking in the “knowing” I mentioned in my last column: the mysterious Ephesians 3 knowledge that I am loved by God. In the fullness of this knowledge, it becomes okay that I don’t love to cook and that I eat a little too much junk food and that I’d rather read my book than airbrush fondant rose petals for my daughter’s birthday cake. In the fullness of this knowledge, we daughters of Christ become sisters, not competitors, and our weaknesses become a source of strength to ourselves and to others.


  • Emily Cramer

    Emily Cramer grew up in the Toronto area and spent most of her twenties living nomadically. She completed her English B.A. in New Brunswick (1999), burned through some existential angst in eastern Ontario and in Scotland, and finally wrapped up a Master’s in Christianity & the Arts in British Columbia (2008). She now lives in Barrie, Ontario with her husband and daughter, where she works as a college Communications teacher and hopes to stay put, at least for awhile. She has been privileged with a number of writing opportunities over the years, such as a summer newspaper column on the natural environment and a novella for her graduating thesis, and is now feeling honoured to be able to explore the next leg of her travels - parenting and family life - with the CC.

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