Perfect vs. Authentic, Can We Have Both?
By Jana Richards
As I continue to dive further into this mommy blogger/influencer world, I am starting to see how easy it is to lose sight of who you are and your own unique voice as the likes and comments start to increase.It feels good to have people engage with you and the more they engage, the more you want to engage back to continue those good feelings.But what you are putting up on social media is not you as a whole. It is the piece you allow to be public and that piece is actually divided into even more pieces based on your audience and their specific reasons for engaging with you. One person might like my fashion. Another might like my mom insights. Another my realness about my kitchen-phobia. So in order to drive the most engagement, the default feeling is to focus in on those pieces to try and hone them even more. Make them better. More perfect. Eventually, if you don’t stop and check yourself you will end up as a caricature of yourself based on the largest segment of your audience.
That stopping and checking is a constant battle for me. It is hard to create that balance of audience wanted perfection, while still being authentic to myself. And as I comb through my feed this morning staring at countless people doing squats, the tough question is, can you really do both? Can you be authentically perfect? No one is perfect, life happens. Kids or no kids, we all have hardships, long days, bad days, good days and everything in between, but we also have those perfect moments from time to time. Those sunset heart hands our insta-husbands take while on vacation. Those smiling kids covered in dirt photos.Overall, I just think there needs to be a compromise. It can’t be all perfection all the time, it is unattainable, unrealistic and sets expectations I do not want my children to have to try and live up to. It is also hard to be authentic if you are also trying to be something whether that is perfection or not.
Today when I look at someone's profile, I too am still guilty of gravitating towards those filtered photoshopped images created by the latest app that takes reality and twists it into an algorithms version of perfection. But beyond that perfection, I look for relatability.I ask myself, can I connect with this person on another level other than the pretty images they post? Who is their authentic voice and what are they trying to say to me and the world around them and is what they are saying something that will add value to my life? That last one is the key for me.There are many people I can relate to and enjoy their voice and interactions, but given my limited time, I need there to be something more. Can I learn from them? Can they provide me with a new way to look at the world around me? Do they just make me smile?One of my many jobs as a mom is to provide a safe and nurturing environment for my children, to help them grow into the people they want to be with as little influence and pressure from outside forces as possible.Part of that job is to help them understand that happiness, is not dependent upon the number of likes and comments we get. That regardless of how something looks, you should ask yourself, is there something of value there that you should spend your most valuable resource (time) on.That this is going to be a tough battle they will face for the rest of their lives, but if they can define and continue to be themselves because that’s who they want to be, they will come out in a good place.I can't control whether someone will choose to follow me or not, and I certainly can't agonize over it. All I can do is be the best example of a strong, confident and full person for my babes to emulate. A mix between my version of coffee-fueled perfection and the chocolate milk my 3-year old just spilled in my lap.I hope my honesty will inspire others to do the same, and I will continue to keep it as real as possible.