What did you study in college? I studied advertising. It was a wonderful middle ground that checked a lot of boxes for me:
- Marketable degree that could easily provide me a decent-paying career (joke’s on me because I ended up in higher education, ha ha)
- Creative field
- Writing/communication focused
- Playful, casual working environments
- Exciting, fast-paced, and varied work
It was all wonderful, except by the time I was a mere two classes away from graduating, I realized I didn’t want to work in an advertising agency. It hit me that the whole foundation of advertising is selling people things they don’t need (and often can’t afford), based on the idea that they’re not good enough as they are.
Of course there are exceptions to this, but it certainly narrowed down my career possibilities in advertising if I wasn’t willing to work in the vast majority of agencies. I felt stuck and disenchanted.
Advertising in Blogging
Now I’m blogging more seriously and this “issue” has come up for me again. I’m connecting with lots of mom bloggers and I frequently come across women that have basically become walking advertisements. I’m not knocking any of those people. They are often stay-at-home-moms and blogging is their business! I’m not an idiot, I know the way to make a living blogging is to sell.
What stuff you have, and how much you have of it, is not an indication of who you are.
But I often find myself looking at posts like “5 Must-Have Baby Items” that feature things like $180 formula dispensers (why anyone would rather spend that kind of money than say, I dunno, shake it up in the bottle for 10 seconds… it’s beyond me), and thinking none of these things are necessary. While I am glad that moms have found things to make their lives easier, the truth of the matter is that you don’t need more stuff. My kids are (generally) polite, interesting, kind, smart, funny, healthy, and ALIVE, and I used very little fancy gear. For example, I owned a $10 baby monitor I bought second hand that *shock* didn’t have camera features. And because we’ve always lived in smaller houses, sometimes I didn’t use a monitor at all and just heard them through the walls.
I started off my motherhood journey as a single, 22-year-old college student with an unplanned pregnancy and a low income. When I see this type of post, I remember the feeling of inadequacy and dread, wondering if my child would be somehow disadvantaged because I didn’t have this special product or that unique service. Now I’m a few years down the road, my children are not in the least bit disadvantaged, and I am oddly glad that we have struggled financially so profoundly because it has taught me to be rich in all the right things: love, grace, and hope.
A Richer Perspective
I will gladly share my perspective with you:
- You don’t need to spend more money on clothing or makeup to be lovely, because you already are. (Incidentally, I’ve always found it odd that skincare/hair/makeup bloggers call themselves “Beauty Bloggers.” Beauty is not achieved by having a particular type of skin, hair, or makeup. I believe people are made beautiful, they don’t become that way through products and techniques.)
- Your house doesn’t have to be decorated a certain way to be welcoming to others—just open your doors and invite people in.
- You don’t need more stuff to be a wonderful parent. Your child doesn’t care about high-end baby gear or trendy clothing–stuff can’t make them happy just as it can’t make you happy. Your children care about whether or not they are spending quality time with you.
- Being a consumer, like so many things in life, requires critical thinking. It’s a bit like panning for gold–you must filter through the grit, the dull and mundane, and the sludge, to find the lovely golden treasures that you want to keep.
Have you ever felt inadequate as a woman or mom when reading blogs or browsing social media like Pinterest or Instagram? Have you ever felt discouraged by targeted advertising? Please be encouraged–you are not alone, and as cliche as it is, the best things in life are free.
Release yourself from the expectation, from the strongholds of STUFF. What stuff you have, and how much you have of it, is not an indication of who you are or your worth.
If you’d like to receive a personal note of encouragement from me relating to this topic, comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.