190: Does Sharing Your Self Reliance Success Equal Showing Off?
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A couple weeks ago I did an episode called “Do Something Else” where I encouraged people to not get caught up in the cycle of only sharing memes, the news story of the hour, or other recycled content. I asked them to instead focus on sharing what they were actually doing in their life.
I got a lot of feedback on that episode, a lot of “thanks, I needed to hear that.” However, there were a few people who said that while they wanted to share what they were doing in their life, it felt like bragging when they did. They were worried that it looked like they might be showing off.
Note: The other response I got to Do Something Else was “I want to share what I’m doing, but I’m afraid it makes me a target in a SHTF situation.” I will be addressing that issue in a podcast episode/blog post in the next two weeks. Stay tuned.
Sharing success = showing off?
When we share something about our life, people will generally comment on it. It’s the basis of conversation.
But in some communities, what you’re doing can become a contest, a one-upping of sorts—and that can be real, or it can just be something you feel.
Life is a contest for some people. Doesn’t matter if they are posting about homesteading, homeschooling, their job, their car, their husband/wife, their kid’s sports team, the trip they just took, their volunteer position, their weight loss, their gym membership—whatever.
Some of the comments we hear
You’re digging in to self-reliance. You’re building the life you want. You’ve learned to bake a loaf of bread. You’ve bought a cow. You’ve pulled your kids from school. You’ve finally started that side hustle. And you’re sharing all about it!
Some comments about what you’re doing will be positive and encouraging.
Sometimes commenters will completely down play what you’ve done:
“I did that 20 years ago, you’re too late.”
“You’re doing it wrong.”
Other times, commenters have a way of making you feel bad for succeeding.
“OMG, do you do anything the modern way?”
“Wow, um okay. Make us all feel like slackers…”
“I wish I could have the free time to do that…”
I remember my husband talking with a co-worker about something we were doing on our homestead, and this person responded, “Next you’re going to tell me that your wife makes your ketchup too…” to which my husband replied, “yeah, sometimes she actually does.” But it felt more like being called out for being too much, or too extra, instead of, “hey! cool! we figured out how to make our own ketchup!”
In chatting with some friends about this topic, my friend Erin from Two Chicks Homestead says sometimes she struggles in posting what they’re doing at their homestead. “I definitely feel like this a lot. That people are thinking, okay already, you’re doing things, we get it—though I never actually have people say that. It is almost always positive, but I still think it.”
Here’s the ironic thing…
Sometimes we’re made to feel like we’re bragging when deep down inside, we secretly feel like we have no clue what we’re doing.
In the Farmish Kind of Life Discord chat, Barb said, “I’ve wanted to start a FB page for our homestead, really just as a photo journal for myself, but I haven’t. Part of the reason is what you’ve said…would I just be showing off? Sometimes, I even think it would feel like imposter syndrome since we just really got started last year.”
Erin agreed, “That’s also a thing I think about. When sharing within the community, the ‘real homesteaders’ will think I’m a fake.”
Maybe someone shares that they just made dandelion jelly because they’re super proud it actually turned out because they had no clue what they were doing! Which makes it hit different when someone says, “OMG, LOL okay, so are you going to make jelly from your grass clippings next?” or “You were raised on jelly from the store and turned out just fine.”
What’s behind those comments?
Here’s something we have to understand about people’s comments, regardless of what the comment is:
Oftentimes someone’s comment to you says way more about them than it says about you or what you’ve shared. The constant in the conversation is the picture or announcement or question you post. The variables are the responses to that post. And those responses are about the commenter, not the poster.
If I share a picture of a loaf of bread I made, that’s the constant. That doesn’t change. What changes are people’s comments:
- Wow! That’s beautiful!
- How do you get your crust to look like that?
- I’d love your recipe.
- I don’t eat bread.
- And here I am over here making PBJ on lowly Wonder Bread
- Ok, show us the three that didn’t turn out that perfect.
- I was just glad to take a shower today and here you are whipping out homemade bread…
What you have to do is ask yourself why they are making that comment. Why did they take the time to type out their response to you?
- Is it to help you out? To offer you advice? To give you information?
- Is it to support and encourage you?
- Is it some backhanded compliment?
- Is it an underhanded (or outright) jab?
- Is it to deflect attention from you to them?
- Is it about their ego/shortcomings and you just happen to be the target?
Possible responses and approaches
As a homeschooling mom, I often dealt with odd, jabby comments. I’ve received similar comments as a homesteader and an author. I have even had people make weird comments when I post something about my husband and I spending time together having a romantic date cutting wood.
The approach I’ve had to take, the thing I have to keep in mind, and the response I sometimes even have to give is:
My sharing about my life is not a commentary about what you’re doing with yours. If you think it is, YOU need to dig into that.
My sharing about my life is because I like our life. I’d love it if you’d share about your life!
(You are absolutely welcome to borrow those words any time you need them.)
A little devil’s advocate here…
Because I like to make you think…
When has someone’s posting made YOU feel like they’re just showing off, and why did you feel that way?
Is that our natural inclination when someone is successful? And if sharing our wins is somehow synonymous with bragging, how can someone talk about success without bragging?
If your mom, best friend, and co-worker all tell you the same great bit of news—”OMG! I’m going to the Bahamas again!”— are all three of them bragging? Are none of them bragging? Or do you view the trip to the Bahamas differently depending on who said it?
Does viewing someone as bragging stem from jealousy of what they’ve accomplished? Is it all from some underlying issue you have with them?
Note: Stay tuned in the next couple weeks for an episode/blog post where we dig into a very similar topic: Reverse Judgement. It’s something we all hate, and it’s something we all do.
So, how can I convince you to keep sharing what you’re doing?
People are going to think what they are going to think. You are not responsible for what they think. You are not responsible for how they take what you post. I have a file of emails I have received from readers/listeners when they got offended or angry at something I said because of how they took what I said. I cannot control how people take what I say, and you can’t either. Share what you’re doing anyway.
People see what they want in your posts. If people are looking for positivity and encouragement, they will find that. If people are looking for negativity or a reason to be offended, or a mistake, or a fight, they will find one. Share what you’re doing anyway.
People fall victim to assumptions. People will assume things about you because of how they line up with other similar posts from similar people. For instance, I’ve never said I’m an organic gardener, but a lot of people assume that I am. People assume, and will think what they think because of that. Share what you’re doing anyway.
People don’t have to follow you. I understand this is harder with family, but honestly—if someone thinks everything you’re posting is bragging, remind them they are the ones who are continuing to watch it happen.
Consider there are people who learn from what you post. You may have to deal with an obnoxious comment, or people who think you’re just showing off, but consider how many people are learning something from what you post. Think of the people who are encouraged by what you post. Think of the people who see what you post and think, “well, if Amy can try that, maybe I can too. At least I know who I can go to if I have questions…”
Be proud of what you’re doing! You’ve worked hard to get where you’re at and there is absolutely nothing wrong with sharing your journey with others.
— Amy Dingmann, 3-1-22
Links Mentioned in Episode 190:
The Homestead Journey Podcast: Keeping it Real on the Homestead with Amy Dingmann
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