I don't know about you all, but for me, Christmastime seems to be a time of extremes. In either a positive or negative way, the season seems to take the feelings we are already feeling and multiply them by 100. If you're prone to giving, you'll give above and beyond. If I'm feeling crafty (which of course, I am), I'll spend every second of free time crocheting or painting. If spending money is second nature, watch out. If you're struggling with depression or loneliness, the holidays set those feelings into overdrive. If you're stressed about finals, moving into a new home, or having relatives come to visit, this season can push you over the edge.
I'm not sure what it is about Christmas that exaggerates these already present feelings- there are probably a multitude of reasons. Whatever the cause, one of the biggest struggles for me (and I'm sure I'm not the only one), not just around Christmastime but all year, is contentment. Which is ironic, because isn't the whole point of the holidays to be thankful?
Its not that I want more things or that I'm ungrateful for what I have- I'm not. I feel incredibly blessed. What I struggle most with is contentment with where I'm at.
This digital age that we live in has made it increasingly easy to access each others' lives and with that accessibility comes comparison. I find myself seeing photos of friends or even photos of myself "pre-mommy" and "pre-Nebraska" and envying where they are at in life or what they are doing.
And then comes the pressure- "if I just take Evie to do more "fun" and "Christmas-y" things I'll feel like a better mom" or "if I looked like I actually spent more than five minutes on my appearance, maybe I'll actually want to post a selfie" or "if we took that vacation to Colorado maybe I wouldn't feel so homesick (or self-sick?)". On and on and on.
An article I recently read from Darling Magazine (my newest obsession) titled "In One Place at a Time" summed it up best, I think:
"We see what our friends are doing in this moment and we wonder if what we are doing in this moment is as great or as 'post-worthy'. Hyper-aware of what everyone else is doing as we scroll down our screens, we either become numbed to the life that is actually in front of us or worried that we need to go find something better to do"
I read that sentence and was knocked out with a proverbial ton of bricks. Is is possible that my discontentment is rooted in comparison? Just over half a year into our move and I've already found myself longing for our old home and our old stage of life. I could just write it off as pregnancy hormones, which is the easy excuse for everything right now. (Sorry, AJ). Or I can dig a little deeper and look at my heart. Its not that my life is any less valid, exciting or fulfilling as the next, its just that my contentment- and therefore my gratitude- has taken a nose dive.
With the pervasiveness of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest...its easier than ever to fall into the trap of "missing out"- something the article quoted above referenced as #FoMO or fear of missing out. We envy, oftentimes subconsciously, the lives of our friends, believing that the party they just attended or the concert they Instagrammed, is more important than the homemade dinner you just cooked or the paper you just spent hours on. But guess what?
We are free to miss out.
The lives everyone else lives, with their own unique beauty, adventure and challenges, are not mine. And "becoming numb" to the life that is right in front of me just because my house isn't "pinterest-y" enough or I'm feeling a little nostalgic, is a low that I never want to hit. Embracing our freedom to miss out awakens a brand new person. I can celebrate with others the beauty and excitement of their lives without jealousy or comparison. I can embrace my own life with joy and gratitude, knowing that even in the most monotonous, un-post-worthy of days- where I've changed 98 poopy diapers and shared half the desert that I made for myself and still don't have dinner on the table by 8- I can be thankful and satisfied.
In the midst this season of craziness and comparison, if this is something you struggle with as well, I encourage you to just BE.
Be where you are with your whole heart, even if where you are isn't thrilling or new. Learn to find beauty in monotony. And be grateful for the little things. And maybe log off Facebook for a little bit....that could help too.