This summer, I turned 30 years old. I know they say a lot changes when you turn 30. I believe this is true in many ways. You have wisdom—at least some—by this age. You have said goodbye to hopefully a lot of old, unhealthy habits, and you have fresh eyes to look into this new decade.
What I have found incredibly difficult, though, despite my best efforts, is the constant comparison I do to those around me. I keep thinking I’ll outgrow this too, but it acts like a mosquito on my shoulder, constantly buzzing in my ear. It’s awful. Living in this digital age is wild. We have access to hundreds, if not thousands, of people’s highlight reels by simply clicking a button. It’s pretty insane when you think about it.
Take my mother, for instance. My mother is a baby boomer. She also did not get married to my father until almost 35 years old and had me less than a year later. In the years leading up to all of this, she led a quiet life at home with her parents. She did not compare herself, nor did she feel any “rush” to hurry up and move to that next milestone. I can’t even begin to imagine what that would be like—to live in my own little world like that where I didn’t feel the pressure to hurry up and go to the next thing.
One of the biggest distinctions my mother can recall of her young adult years, and even going into her thirties, was the lack of pomp and circumstance surrounding having babies. When my mother was pregnant with me, there was no pregnancy announcement on Facebook, no gender reveal party, no professional maternity photos of her clutching her baby bump, and no comparisons of the baby to a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout gestation. There were no perfectly etched wooden signs with names in calligraphy, no bohemian aesthetic nursery theme, and DEFINITELY no flattering maternity clothes that made you look/feel like a glowing with-child goddess.
Pregnancy in recent years has become glorified, thanks to social media, and I think we need to talk about it. I think we need to talk about how it affects women who are not pregnant. This group of women may fall into even more subsets: women who have been trying to get pregnant but are infertile, women who want to have kids but cannot meet the right person, women who want kids but whose partner is infertile–the list goes on.
Like I said earlier, I compare. I compare badly. I could win a freaking award for comparing myself. I am also a woman who is trying to conceive with my husband and who has a number of known health issues that affect fertility. As hard as I try to “run my own race” and “stay in my lane,” I often fail. I end up getting on that social media platform and thrown right in my face is another pregnancy announcement. Sometimes I’ll come across an old high school classmate who is on their second or third kid and I just got married less than six months ago. While there is nothing wrong with this, many times I feel behind. I get caught up in what I don’t have and I forget what I do. I am hyper focused on the loss versus the gain.
For instance, I turned 30 and the first thing I thought of was my biological clock, not how I am ONLY 30 and have many good years ahead of me. Realizing this, I knew I had to do something. I had to change my mindset and learn to be okay with where I’m at in my life. Life runs in stages and seasons. I am currently working on being present in the moment and enjoying this stage of my life. I cannot expect others to censor themselves to prevent hurting my feelings. If I were pregnant, I would post an announcement too!
I want to encourage those out there who are struggling with infertility or simply struggling with comparing themselves. Remember these things:
1. Social media is a highlight reel. No one will ever post the hard, the bad, the ugly. Sometimes they will if they’re candid enough, but most people won’t. Needless to say, we are never getting the full picture.
2. LOTS—and I mean LOTS—of women are struggling with fertility out there. I cannot tell you how many Reddit threads, Instagrams, and blogs are devoted to just people struggling with fertility. You are not alone.
3. Your life matters. Your life is valuable and worthy. Whether you are single, in a relationship, married, children, or no children, you are important.
So, go in grace. Have a glass of wine and think about some wonderful things that you have in this stage of your life. Maybe it’s just your glass of cabernet, a cozy blanket, and a good movie. You have ears and eyes to enjoy that movie, you have taste buds to savor that wine, and you have a heartbeat inside of that cozy blanket.