Everyone Poops: Why Comparison Is Deceiving + Destructive
Surely you remember the book “Everyone Poops” from your childhood. While this book was designed to introduce toddlers to the world of toilet usage, it can teach a valuable lesson well past the days of potty training. Stay with me here.
I am not producing any unique content by talking about the destructive nature of comparison in the social media age. In fact, the topic is quite well-covered. But I have been completely consumed with this temptation as of late — to compare my life, my looks, and my belongings to the seemingly flawless images I see all over Instagram and Facebook. This thought process can be debilitating, depressing, and downright destructive.
But once you peel back the mask of perfection, you will find this promising truth: Everyone poops. It sounds silly, but it is true in both the literal and metaphorical sense. But for the sake of elegance, let’s stick to the metaphor. At the end of the day, the beautiful people wearing fancy clothes in their immaculately decorated homes — they too, poop. In other words: We may act like we have it together online, but in reality, we all go through the same normal, human, mundane realities.
Confession: I am immediately jealous of the people who travel to extravagant places for free because of their influence and the 1.5 million people who follow them on Instagram. I second-guess my simple, bargain-hunter’s wardrobe when I see what seems to be endless outfit swaps (with designer labels) for others. I get antsy about apartment living when I see someone else announce the purchase of their new home. But I have to remember: Everyone poops. All of those people have to scrub the grout in their shower, pick up their dog’s poop, and may or may not get coffee breath on a regular basis. Plus, I should be happy for those people, rather than become filled with envy.
I also confessed the other day that I almost get a high when I have a “successful” social media post. That is seriously really sad. Why is my value, my current state of happiness, or the course of my whole day dependent on something so trivial? But maybe you can relate to this feeling. There may be a certain number of likes in your mind that if you reach it, you’ll feel like that post was a “win.” And when you don’t, it feels almost embarrassing. (I also feel embarrassed just verbalizing this! Well, via writing.)
In fact, I am already second-guessing the title of this blog post, because: “Do I really want the word “poop” to be on my blog and ruin the carefully planned *aesthetic*? This will look weird next to a post about salad! What will so-and-so think?” And that is exactly why I am absolutely publishing this blog post — to break the temptation to present my life as perfect.
A few people have mentioned how lucky we were to be able to take the summer off of work and road trip across the country. And don’t get me wrong — I am so thankful for that experience. But people don’t fully understand the realities of what mundane, overtly human things took place between the posting of photos. If you haven’t heard: our social media life is just a highlight reel that displays the best of the best moments, with a straightened, brightened, saturated and cropped masterpiece. What people didn’t see was our night camping in Olema, California (just outside of San Francisco) when I was frustrated at Brandon for no reason — well, I was just over the no showers, cooking beans and rice in the dark on a propane stove, and the constant driving. Instead, they saw this. Or the uncertainty we felt when Brandon didn’t get a job until the very end of the summer, right before we moved to Nashville. Instead, they saw this. People also didn’t know how sad I felt during our trip to Cannon Beach because it contained such vivid childhood memories — ones that involved my parents being married to each other. Instead, they saw this.
Another Example: Pictured on the left is Olive's carefully crafted camping selfie. And on the right, here she is in her natural element.
And I’m not trying to compare my life to the “glamorous” ones we all idolize. Not by any means. I am simply sharing an example of what can be happening on the other side of the camera, and what the pixels on our screens tend to omit from view. I also understand that my life (your life too!) actually is glamorous compared to the realities that many face — such as poverty, addiction, abuse or hunger. That is the saddest part about all of this — that our “bad days” or “non-Insta-worthy moments” are nothing compared to what many endure.
I also hope that being transparent about my negative thoughts will help me to overcome them. I am also here to tell you “you’re not alone” if you feel the same way, and to break down any false impressions you may have of my life. Starting a “lifestyle blog” might exclaim “I have my life in order!” but it is quite the opposite. This will instead be a journey about the realities of life, with some pretty posts and a few ugly ones (I’m pretty sure titling this “Everyone Poops” automatically puts this in the latter category).
And I hope this can be a safe place where these conversations can happen — both publicly or in private. So feel free to reach out with a “me too” if this hits home.
A few final words of wisdom (not from me, don’t worry).
Theodore Roosevelt says it pretty plainly, but it beautifully captures everything I have said: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It’s that simple.
This sounds borderline narcissistic but it certainly applies in this case: “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else (Galatians 6:4)”. God created you with so many unique gifts and traits, and it is perfectly alright to take pride in that and to be confident in who you are. And even further — instead of taking pride in yourself, thank God for those things! A spirit of gratitude is the most powerful weapon to combat the comparison narrative in your mind.
And if all else fails and you find yourself in the hopeless cycle of comparison, remember these two words: Everyone poops.