Something empowering happened to me this month. For the first time since birthing a second baby, I looked into my closet and liked what I saw.
Do you know how significant that is?
Has childbearing wrecked your body in 1,001 different ways? Have you lived out of SIX Sterilite storage tubs at the foot of your bed (Winter, too big. Winter, too small. Winter, fits. Summer, too big. Summer, too small. Summer, fits.)? Have you ever dug through all six bins to no avail? Have you ever tried on all 12 pairs of jeans in your house and NOT ONE of them fit? I mean, you get it right? I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say that you do.
I reached into my closet to grab an outfit last week and I didn't have this dialogue in my head:
"-I could wear this - if that tank top was clean. -I need a sweater over this one. -It would look okay with my bigger jeans. -This will fit great in six weeks, still kind of pregnant-awkward. -This went out of style 2 years ago. -Maybe a necklace would help."
And no, I haven't lost all the weight yet.
The secret is, it's not about the weight (not entirely). The secret, for me, was Pinterest.
(I am trying to drive away as many readers as possible by mentioning Pinterest, weight, and birthing a baby all in the first 200 words of this post. Are you still reading? Because I'm about to make a point about social media and inspiration and technology and taking control of your life and stuff.)
There is a lot of Pinterest love out there, and there's also a lot of Pinterest mockery, condescension, and hate.
It's the same with every social media outlet. Frankly, I'm fed up with hearing,
"Facebook is taking away our real-life friends."
"Facebook causes drama."
"Facebook is addictive."
"Twitter is making us narcissistic."
"Twitter is a time-suck."
"Pinterest is making us stupid.
Pinterest is making us feel jealous and inferior as mothers and housekeepers."
I'm fed up with it because it's all a bunch of finger-pointing, blame-shifting, whiny nonsense. None of it is true.
Facebook doesn't cause drama; people cause drama. Over-sharing causes drama. Facebook doesn't isolate you; you isolate you.
Twitter doesn't suck your time; you waste your time. Twitter doesn't make anyone narcissistic; it gives people an outlet for displaying their previously existing narcissism.
I believe that social media (like almost every other thing) is neutral. It isn't innately awesome or innately terrible; it is what you make it.
I can say with a clear conscience that Facebook has never given me a single moment of anxiety. The teenagers I work with don't believe me because this sounds so otherworldly to them that it blows their little brains - but it's true.
Likewise, Pinterest has not once made me feel insecure, nor do I have boards overflowing with things I'll never do/own/bake/care about. I don't lose entire evenings to Pinterest because I don't use it as an activity. I use it as a reference tool - like the books you're not allowed to check out of the library. I don't pin when I'm bored, I pin when I need an idea (And maybe when I'm procrastinating, HEY! NOBODY'S PERFECT).
It is with social media as it is with all of life: you have to take the good and leave the rest.
Take the enjoyment, leave the addiction. Take the communication, leave the isolation. Take the inspiration, leave the jealousy.
When I was a teenager, my mom taught me to read "with my filter on." She gave me books, poems, and articles with bad theology, questionable morals, and colorful language. She'd always attach a note that said something like, "I loved this paragraph," or "her metaphors are stunning," or "It's a very interesting point of view," and she'd close with, "Read it with your filter on."
What she meant was, take the good and leave the rest. Learn what you can, internalize the best, stretch yourself, think critically - and let everything else fall by the wayside.
My pastor used to say, "If someone is critical of you and you know that they are 99% wrong, fix the 1%. Then let it go."
I believe that we would see an influx of all things wise and common-sensical if we committed to live with our filters on.
So - when it came to my post-baby body and my post-baby wardrobe I knew I had to own it. Pinterest helped me to own it.
When I went shopping, for the first time in my life I didn't ask myself, "Would Kate Middleton wear this? Would Wendy Nguyen wear this? Would my stylish cousin Brooke, my stylish friend Mattie wear this?"
I didn't even ask, "Could I?" or "Will I?"
"Does this piece communicate what I want the world to know about my style? Is it consistent with the image I want to project? Is it 'me?'"
Those questions have made all the difference. My "Style Inspiration" board has become my personal litmus test; if I don't love it enough to pin it, then I don't love it enough to buy it. Life is too busy, my house is too cluttered, and I am too poor to be buying and wearing things that I don't like. If I only shop twice a year then darnit, I'm going to like what I get.
I am a Pinterest success story. Pinterest helped me to define my style, and then to own it - literally. I used it for inspiration, which I believe is what the creators were dreaming of when they dreamed it up.
So my challenge to you is this: In whatever you read, whatever you hear, whatever you use - take the good and leave the rest. Find what inspires YOU, then own it - unapologetically.
(Also, Pinterest made decorating my VBS room one million times easier. YES! I'm working at a Vacation Bible School! And decorating a room! And leading CRAFTS for a bunch of kids! Mommy blog: complete!)