I have been thinking a lot lately about the social media pressure we have on us nowadays to live seemingly perfect lives, and I have to be honest, but I think the slow living ‘trend’ contributes to that pressure. It has been troubling me somewhat, because I don’t want to be part of that. As a supposed slow living advocate, I quite happily went along with the label, answered questions, gave advice and my opinion on the subject. But I think it is about time to be honest. I don’t actually live slowly, boy, I would love to, but I have 2 children, limited child care, a husband who doesn’t get home until 8 pm most weekday evenings, I blog, I run workshops and I do styling work too. Do the sums on that and I’ll tell you, it definitely doesn’t equal slow!
In fact, I would say that I live most of my life with a side of stress. I try to limit it of course, and in fact I have in some respects, which I will share in other posts. But as an example, walking to school each morning with a 4 year old, who either shuffles along slower than a tortoise, or runs the entire journey. And if you’ve seen the trip hazards that are Brighton pavements, factor in a condition she has that makes her heart stop if she hurts herself, then I think it is fair to say my day gets off to a pretty stressful start.
I realised last week that I am stressed almost constantly, because I always try to do too much, fit more in the day than there is actually time for. I can’t leave the house without tidying or washing up the lunch things. Which usually means after trying to be a good mother (self imposed pressure this time) and take Dottie to the park or the beach in the mornings, and factoring in my supposed slow living time for a 5 minute cuppa, I eat my lunch standing up because I am cleaning and tidying as a gulp it down, in order that we can go to the park after school with Elvia! But why, why am I putting pressure on myself, because of this perfect slow life I am supposed to be living perhaps? I’m trying to have it all, and that is why I wanted to come clean, because I don’t want anyone to think I do have it all and that their life is a poorer version, because it isn’t picturesque, or hand-made or perfectly co-ordinated.
I also realised last week, why I don’t ever share photos of my girls on social media anymore. It is because they don’t fit with my feed or with each other for that matter. I don’t dress them to match so they clash in every photo, and we can’t have that! How many people dress their kids these days so they look good on Instagram I wonder. In my house, Dottie is currently sporting a Darth Vader outfit and Elvia dresses like an Olympic athlete crossed with someone from the film Grease. Not really a look that goes with my perfectly crafted feed, and I have to tell you, as a lover of clothes, I find that one a struggle. But I have decided to let it go, she needs to find her own path with fashion. A subject for another post perhaps.
When it comes to slow living, I have my suspicions, that most of the people who come under the banner, lead a pretty similar life to me; they have kids with snotty noses, piles of paperwork on the kitchen table, a mound of dirty washing, fish-fingers in the freezer and the added pressure of depicting a perfect life.
I have been to a few ‘slow living’ events and I can tell you, most of them don’t feel very slow, no-one is living in the moment, they are too busy photographing their food, or the surroundings or each other. It feels a far cry from the slow living concept, having to stand out of the way of someone whilst they re-arrange the table for a photo. Surely slow living is about enjoying the here and now, not spending ages getting the perfect photograph of it. It has made me chuckle before on a few occasions, watching people standing on chairs, getting in the way of waiters, taking things off of other tables. The world we live in now, sure is strange! But there is that pressure again, the pressure to fill up an Instagram stream with a beautiful life, but whats the point if you are too busy photographing it to actually live it!
Now of course, I’m not saying that is the case with everyone, I’m sure there are people out there who do have it all, stylish children, a washing line of co-ordinated clothes billowing gently in the breeze, and a slow-cooked casserole in the oven ready to be enjoyed when everyone sits down at the table without moaning at the end of the day. And I aspire to that, of course I want my life to be like that, but I’ve decided to take the pressure off of myself for a bit, and so should you. Sod the washing up, because slow living isn’t about perfection, it is about slowing down and giving yourself a break in every sense of the word.
PS You might be wondering after all that I have just written, how I reconcile myself with what I do, and by that I mean, sharing styled photos on social media and not only that but teaching people how to style their own photos. Well I will tell you, because my images are my creative outlet, they are my art, they are my moment of slow. When I take time to style a still-life, I am not pretending that it is my real life, I am taking pleasure in the moment of creating it. When it comes to my actual life, I very rarely photograph it, you won’t find me taking a photo of my lunch before I eat it, but you will find me styling a recipe because that is part of what I do as a job, and that is a separate thing. I make no apology for the fact that I want the images I share to be beautiful, they are my portfolio after all.