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Don’t Compare Your Inside to Someone Else’s Outside

Hi. I hope Monday was kind to you. My day was good. I trained clients at 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. and then came home and took a little nap on the couch for 45 minutes. I got up around 8:30 and made a green smoothie and got to work on finishing up a the edits/feedback on the first draft of my book in layout.

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I can’t believe what a process this has been. We started on it last December! I can’t wait for it to become a reality…April 2015!!!

I went into the office for a bit to work on some stories and then came home to meet my contractor for a few more kitchen items. The progress is so exciting. I worked from home for the rest of the day before hitting the gym to workout and then teach CrossFit and Circuit Training. Sullie and I took a long walk when I got home.

So remember how I took that yoga class at the Ritz last week? Well, one of the quotes that my friend shared during class was “Don’t compare your inside to someone else’s outside.”

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I can’t stop thinking about this quote and my mom and I had a long talk about it on Saturday night. The way it resonates with me is in our whole culture of “Hi, how are you? Great. Good! Me too!” and all of the social media craziness of “Look how happy I am. Things are perfect.” (No mention that you may be dealing with a sick family member, financial issues that leave you wondering if you can pay the mortgage, a kid that is not doing well in school, etc.) In truth, we are all up and down. Things are never perfect all the time but we compare our insides to what others are projecting on the outside as perfect and all good.

When I teach yoga one of the constant messages in my classes is that you are safe here. You are allowed to feel whatever it is you are feeling. Come to your mat with it and work it out. If you feel up, send your energy out. If you feel down, soak up the energy that is being sent to you…knowing it will all come full circle and we are all there to lift each other up and support each other.

How did it become such a stigma for things to be not okay? On this blog I get faulted for being up and not talking about down. But when I talk about down, I get criticized as well. So do we want to pretend that things are always good or do we want to recognize that we all struggle at some point and support that? Because ultimately, when we struggle, we grow. And in supporting it doesn’t mean that you have to spill you guts to every person that you encounter but it is okay to just not be okay all the time.

I posted this quote on Instagram and was actually interested to receive some feedback that this resonates with some from a body image/awareness angle. I just think this quote is so encompassing in general.

Tell me how this quote resonates with you. 

{ 44 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Jillian July 21, 2014, 10:11 pm

    So true.

  • 2
    Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers July 21, 2014, 10:20 pm

    at a service at my church, our pastor said “don’t compare your behind the scenes to someone else’s highlight reel.” i LOVED it.

    • 3
      Julie July 22, 2014, 11:25 am

      I’ve heard this version before, too, & love it as well!

      • 4
        Jen July 23, 2014, 3:25 pm

        i love this quote as well and have referenced it so many times in classes. it’s such an important reminder! social media is a fun way to share the highlights but not always reality!

        julie – welcome to charlotte!!!! 🙂

  • 5
    Steph July 21, 2014, 10:32 pm

    You are just so awesome. Thank you for this, and thank you for being authentic.

    • 6
      Jen July 23, 2014, 3:25 pm

      thanks so much for the kind words. i’m just doing the best that i can.

  • 7
    Jackie July 21, 2014, 10:57 pm

    Wow, I needed this message today! Sometimes I feel as though everyone else has life figured out while I’m floundering around unable to make progress. Most of the time I realize that is simply what everyone else is projecting and posting via social media and not necessarily the truth, but some days are tougher than others. I think we all have to realize that is ok to not be “great” all the time, that some days are simply ok and not amazing. I love what you said about teaching your yoga classes and encouraging everyone to just be, to send out energy or soak up energy as needed. I need a bit more of that philosophy in my life right now 🙂

    • 8
      Jen July 23, 2014, 3:27 pm

      jackie – i can assure you that most of us do NOT have life figured out. you are making progress by the sheer fact that you’re aware of wanting to make it! some days are just ok and kind of tough but life can’t be “great” all the time or else the good times wouldn’t feel so good. sending you love and light.

  • 9
    Katie @ Live Half Full July 21, 2014, 11:22 pm

    I definitely take social media with a grain of salt. It’s a curated picture of a life, not a real one! 🙂

  • 11
    Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves July 22, 2014, 12:24 am

    This is wonderful, Jen. I used to think all my friends had life together, when in reality, everyone has their own issues that we never see. A lot of people didn’t know I struggled with disordered eating habits two years ago, and some of my friends even told me they thought my life was so put-together. I think the same about others sometimes, but I have to remember that the outside does not necessarily reveal the inside. Thanks for this post!

    • 12
      Jen July 23, 2014, 3:28 pm

      hey alison, it’s so true that we all come with some sort of issues or baggage. it’s part of being human and there is nothing wrong with it. that’s the hardest thing to come to terms with…we don’t want to show that stuff.

  • 13
    Andrea July 22, 2014, 3:57 am

    I love your blog! I am someone who has struggled always with my body image. Weight has always been an issue more or less and people love to make unsolicited comments about my body no matter the size at that particular point in my life. I try to focus always on my inner spirit. That is the energy that keeps me moving and helps me try and make good food choices. That’s the way for me to stay positive. I think when you are mature and intuitive you realize that everyone deals with heartache, pain, life challenges. I look at you and see a wonderful young woman, strong, positive energy flowing from every pore. But I’m not so naive to believe that you have no issues. No relationship problems, no health issues, no financial worries…. I suppose you deal with things in your own way and strive to move through with the support of readers, friends family and your faithful Sullie. Whether you share or not is a personal choice which deserves respect. I would hope that if you choose to share something your readers would react in a supportive way. I wish you the best for you have given your best in this blog.
    Your fan,
    Andrea Esposito

    • 14
      Jen July 23, 2014, 3:42 pm

      hi andrea – thank you so much for the kind words. i’m sorry to hear that you receive unsolicited comments like that but it’s so good to read that you are making an effort to be intuitive, focused inward and perspective based in your actions/reactions. i really appreciate your support around life not being perfect, what to share and the blog. sending you lots of love and thank you for reading!

  • 15
    Brynn July 22, 2014, 6:20 am

    Such a great post and topic. I like to see the ups and downs with bloggers. Our social world has become so sterile with Pinterest, blogs and retouched Instagram shots that the conflict we have with advertising is shifting. I think we are just displacing the issues of retouching in magazines to our own lives. We are so scared to share, be vulnerable and have others see us in (possibly) a less than perfect way, that we hide and put up false personas. Being honest with yourself and others is where true love and acceptance starts. I hope you share whatever you feel on this blog, it is yours. Shame on others for judging, we should be supporting and lifting each other up. Because, as you said, it is all full circle.

    • 16
      Paula July 22, 2014, 8:42 am

      Yes!! I think you characterize the problem really well.

      • 17
        Jen July 23, 2014, 3:44 pm

        brynn – i totally agree with the sterile comment. such a good word for it. yes, being vulnerable is scary as shit but i’ve learned that it’s worth it…and there is so much love and support there. thank you so much for the encouraging words and perspective.

  • 18
    meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles July 22, 2014, 6:22 am

    For some reason this post immediately makes me think of one of my best friends who, even when going through major personal life crises, still feels the need to post happy-go-lucky life is perfect posts (which are fake) on facebook with lots of !!!! for emphasis. I call her out on it every time. I think sites like Facebook have made people think that the posts they read are all real. That everyone but them is happy and perfect. When it is so not the case and really, why would any of us expect it to be? Life isn’t perfect, comparing ourselves to others is useless and just adds another level of jealousy to an already greedy, never satisfied world. Okay I just totally rambled but could go on forever on this lol.

    • 19
      Julie July 22, 2014, 11:24 am

      Maybe that’s your friend’s way of trying to focus on the positive or maybe she’s employing a “fake it ’til you make it” strategy. How kind of you to “call her out on it every time”. With friends like you…

      • 20
        Jen July 23, 2014, 3:47 pm

        julie – there is a kind way to call people out and i have friends that have been lifesavers for calling me out and creating an opening for me to talk about what’s going on. but i agree that sometimes it’s best to try and focus on the positive and it’s not nice to call out with bad intentions.

    • 21
      Jen July 23, 2014, 3:45 pm

      you are a good friend to call her out (as long as it’s in a loving and gentle way). i really appreciate when my friends call bullshit on my “i’m good” responses. i love your ramble and thanks for sharing it.

  • 22
    Pam July 22, 2014, 7:58 am

    This quote has gone straight to my heart. It has taken up residence there. Life changes. Relationships change. Things happen. Body images change. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not so much so. Learning to move and breathe during these fluctuations is key to happiness. Knowing all us in Divine order and that this too shall pass. Everyone of us is on this path. Some are just more aware of it.

    • 23
      Jen July 23, 2014, 3:48 pm

      pam, yes. everything about this comment. i want to read it like 10 times and write your words down.

  • 24
    Paula July 22, 2014, 8:41 am

    This quote is applicable to so much of life. I’m in my first year of marriage, and while I have few complaints, sometimes I look around at other couples and imagine problems that don’t actually exist because “we don’t look or act as lovey-dovey as they do.” I constantly remind myself that every marriage is different and people express themselves and their love differently; so there’s nothing wrong if we’re not constantly posting about how amazing each other is on Facebook or something. Thanks for the reminder! You talk up or down as much as you want; reality is so much easier to relate to.

    • 25
      Jen July 23, 2014, 3:50 pm

      paula – omg, i think this applies so much to marriage, especially in the beginning. it’s so, so easy to create comparisons around your relationships and how others outwardly project but you’re right…every relationship is different and we all express love in different ways!

  • 26
    Lyndsay July 22, 2014, 9:46 am

    I enjoy reading your thoughts and reflections, thank you for sharing those. This year I have learned that I have to focus on the here an now. Not last week, last year, or the next five years. I like the quote “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” Same idea/ concept…but basically – it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. Focus on you, make you happy, be kind to others, focus on the good that is here and now. We aren’t promised tomorrow and the only life we can live and enjoy is our own.

    Thank you.

    • 27
      Jen July 23, 2014, 3:50 pm

      lyndsay – so good to read that this is a focus for you but boy is it hard. i also love that quote you referenced. and yes, we are ultimately 100% responsible for our own happiness and it’s our duty to create it and find it.

  • 28
    Rachel July 22, 2014, 9:48 am

    This is wonderful. I think we all need that constant reminder that we MUST be authentic. We need to be true to our soul, and honour the real emotions that reside there. If we ignore our true feelings and try to block out the reality of our circumstances, we risk loosing touch with our true identity. This is what I have learned at least! Trying to mimic someone else’s “happy” life without having authentic feelings or the beliefs about yourself necessary to back it up will not make you happy! Being aware of your true needs and desires and then honouring them through your actions is what is most important. This is what really brings peace and happiness.

    Thanks for the awesome post! 🙂

    • 29
      Jen July 23, 2014, 3:52 pm

      rachel, i so agree with all of your points here but the reminders are important. it’s daily work for most of us to stay on our path and do the work to get to/stay in that place. awareness is so key.

  • 30
    Samantha @ The Faithful Runner July 22, 2014, 11:23 am

    I love this quote as well. Everyone is always going through something that you might not know about and it’s important to always keep that in mind. Great post

  • 32
    Shanna Small July 22, 2014, 11:25 am

    Here is a quote to answer your quote. “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.”
    — Eleanor Roosevelt

    • 33
      Jen July 23, 2014, 3:53 pm

      girl, yes. trying to make that a mantra.

  • 34
    Jennie July 22, 2014, 11:37 am

    I have to remind myself of this quite often. My life has had it’s share of ups and downs and like you, I don’t share my struggles with everybody, but I’ve learned to be authentic and vulnerable with the people who’ve earned the right to hear my story. I read a great book about this – Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Highly recommend! Love your blog and I read it daily. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • 35
      Jen July 23, 2014, 3:54 pm

      jennie – YES to earning the right to hear your story. i tend to be a guarded and introverted person and it takes me a while to open up but it’s completely rewarding and feels so good to open up to the friends who have proved to be true friends. i LOVE daring greatly. best book i read in 2013. thanks for reading my blog. i really appreciate it.

  • 36
    Shana July 22, 2014, 12:06 pm

    I love the sentiment behind this quote… very similar to one that is a “go-to” for me: “Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.” It’s all about the projection of perfection on social media… and how (most) people only post the good things, which can leave you comparing your life (good and bad) to that. It’s so important to remember that everyone has the good and bad.

    • 37
      Jen July 23, 2014, 3:56 pm

      shana – i also love that quote. it’s so important to stay mindful of this as we live in a world that becomes increasingly focused on social media.

  • 38
    Dana July 22, 2014, 12:20 pm

    I resonate with the “it’s ok, to not be ok.”…
    Own it, right? Own where we are –
    For me, I have learned that it feels better to make friends with this idea instead of fighting it ….
    You inspire me daily…and your words continue to comfort me~

    • 39
      Jen July 23, 2014, 3:57 pm

      dana – YES. own your joy, own your sadness. it’s TOTALLY ok to be wherever it is you are but being aware of where that is is so important. love you!

  • 40
    tara July 22, 2014, 1:47 pm

    i too first thought of body image when i read the quote but then reading your comments that totally changed for me. Its ok to not be ok. What a great and simple comment. I have found what works for me is if i feel bad just feel bad. Feel whatever the feeling is and it will eventually pass. Try to bury it deep and it will NEVER go away. This is a great reminder to me why i’m NOT on facebook. i dont want followers/likes/etc. I do still particiate in social media via twitter and pinterest but i try not to get caught up. I for one love when bloggers share struggles and problems but as someone else said i also understand your privacy. Thanks for this….it really made me think.

    • 41
      Jen July 23, 2014, 3:58 pm

      tara – thank you for the comment. yes, it’s better to feel what you’re feeling and to recognize that it will pass than to put a bandaid over it and ignore your feelings. that’s a recipe for a bunch of crap bottling up and getting ready to explode. i commend you for staying away from facebook. it’s a crazy place!

  • 42
    Janice July 22, 2014, 7:08 pm

    This is an EXCELLENT quote. It is so easy to look on social media and completely belittle yourself because you didn’t run XX miles this past weekend while the person you are following on Instagram ran XXX miles. Or seeing someone show off their ab muscles while you are struggling to eat less sugar and work out often and still have only half an ab visible. But on the bright side I do get excited for that runner who ran XXX miles and that person who has their abs now showing. I know we all start at different times and are at different chapters in our book but it is still hard at times to remember those things. Thanks for sharing. I enjoy your positive perspective on your blog and welcome your down times as well. Thank you!

    • 43
      Jen July 23, 2014, 3:59 pm

      janice – i SO agree with you and the same happens to me as well. BUT we have to remember that we’re all so different and what works for one does not work for others…in all walks of life. thank you so much for reading my blog and taking the time to comment.

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