JANUARY=Intention: Don't Compare Your Inside to Someone Else's Outside

Dont Compare Your Inside to Someone Else's Outside downloadable print from Oh My! Handmade

I couldn’t just pick one word for year so I chose 12 focus words I wanted to explore with a post of pondering + a print/printable on the first Sunday of each month for our 2013 Happy Healthy planner. It’s not too late to grab a copy of the planner and join us but if you already have one you love here is the list of focus words so you can follow along.

January’s focus word is: INTENTION. Last year I wrote about how I set intentions at the start of the year instead of making resolutions. This year I intend to have a happy, healthy year by embracing my own dynamic equilibrium. Instead of pushing forward on big ideas with intensity all the time I want to create a flow between expansion (looking outward, leaping, making things happen) and contraction (looking inward, considering, tending foundations).  So for this month I am telling you my January intention in big block letters for all to see and share.

I speak on a panel about growing your community at Altitude Summit in Salt Lake City in just a couple of weeks and I’ve got some confessing to do. Speaking at Alt was my big goal for 2012 and now that it is actually happening I’m not so scared of the travelling or the speaking or the meeting new folks…I can’t wait for that part! It sounds silly when I type it out but for awhile my biggest fear was needing to keep up with the internets best dressed or be left feeling like the odd duck out at the biggest event of the year. For months bloggers have been sharing their fashion posts and outfit selections and every time I went to go look at buying a piece or two from their round ups…

                    A. The clothes came in small, extra small, and might-fit-my-cat 

                   B. The price tag for one outfit was close to the downpayment for our new house

I spent months amassing pins & bookmarks of pretty clothes knowing full well I could buy maybe a few things and even that would be stretching our budget. There is no reimbursement for being a panelist at Alt, going is a business investment that will be awesome for getting the word out about what we are creating for OMHG, but with our new website, a new house and getting married on an already shoestring budget its a tight squeeze. So I invested most of my clothes budget in a pair of the most exquisite handmade shoes from the sweetest maker of all time Ele of Ele Handmade (inspiring an upcoming post + new related series!) and told myself the rest would figure itself out. But I still stressed about it at night (in my new shoes)…

Handmade shoes by the lovely Ele Handmade

I’ve made choices that I am happy with to focus on creating community instead of prioritizing moneymaking and have always filled my closet with thrift store goodness + the occasional long coveted pair of shoes. Normally I wouldn’t much care about feeling the need to worry what other people are wearing except to think they look awesome. So why the sudden freak out? I don’t compare myself to others and haven’t felt jealous of anything in years but I could feel myself getting green and snippy in my head. With every fashion blog post or shiny Pinterest board my insides grumbled more and more. It got to the point that Chris (who is usually so good about smiling and nodding) finally got frustrated with me asking his thoughts about yet another dress and insisted everyone would think I was awesome no matter what I wore (awwww). So I took a time out to spend some time to reread the inspiring Thing I’m Afraid to Tell You series and had my ah ha! moment:

I was comparing my insides with other peoples outsides.

When I look in the mirror I see my messy insides-I never graduated high school, I’ve never had a credit card-or a driver’s license-I just got my first passport, I’ve been unwell and am not Photoshop perfect, I’m not terribly organized or concerned about leveraging influence, I’m not interested in people for how powerful, well-dressed, or wealthy they are,  fashion talk frightens me, I am the one most likely to leave the cocktail party to hang out with the street kids, being assessed by my outsides tightens my skin…. These are things that I love about myself (+ some make me great at building community!) but no one else sees them when they meet me. It is when I look at my messy insides compared to other peoples immaculately styled outsides my inner mean girl comes rushing out to tell me I should try harder to fit in.

When I reread all the vulnerable TIATTY posts (this one from Jena of Miss Modish is my favourite) it was the reminder I needed that no matter how nicely presented someone is outside they still have gloriously messy insides just like me. Thank goodness for that! I’m not going to stress over something that shouldn’t even be taking up space in my head. So I made myself this print all big and bright and in-yo-face to put in my planner binder. I want to remember to always look past the outside (even my own) to the story on the inside, because you and I both know-that is where the real beauty lives. 

Do you need to remember not to compare your insides to someone else’s outsides? Click any of the graphics below to download a printable reminder!

Dont Compare Your Inside to Someone Else's Outside downloadable print from Oh My! Handmade

Dont Compare Your Inside to Someone Else's Outside downloadable print from Oh My! Handmade

Dont Compare Your Inside to Someone Else's Outside downloadable print from Oh My! Handmade

Don’t compare your inside with someone else’s outside! A printable reminder from @ohmyhandmade http://bit.ly/TFiymW  Share it! 

Oh sharing that felt good!!! I would love if you do your own letting loose in the comments- can you relate with struggling to not compare yourself to the perfectly styled images we see online? What are your intentions for January and beyond? What unhealthy thoughts or patterns can you tell to get lost this year?  


  1. Sarah says:

    About the whole ALT dress thingy, I know what you are saying. It scared me at first too. But, I was at an unrelated ALT online course and someone asked the organizer if we were preparing for a fashion show. The organizer, Sara, put it best. She said it’s not about going out and finding new cool outfits just for ALT. That ALT is a place where you can be yourself and where all the bright, odd, crazy outfits you love but that hide in the back of your closet. It was my ah ha moment. I have many of those outfits! I spent a lot of time looking for my clue themed outfit, to me it was a creative challenge and loads of fun. To find an outfit that fit the theme, looked good, I loved, was fun AND inexpensive was hard. In the end I am happy with it and spent a total of $50 for the whole outfit, head to toe 🙂

    I also came across a Pinterest board called “ALT outfits I would wear if I were skinny” LOL loads of amazing outfits on that board. Fun to look at and dream, for everyone.

    Now, for my secret scared inside confession. I am a creative, through and through. I have a hard time turning off my brain. I have a Bachelor of Design degree. I have worked as an Art Director for a massive company. I’ve designed logos for $400 million dollar brands. I am confident in my skills. But, I always see other designers, trained or not, and love their work. The majority of the time I get excited when I see something good. But, every once in a while I see something and I start to doubt my own work. Sometimes I don’t share projects I’ve done because I think I could have done better and people expect more of me. A fellow designer once told me we cannot hold ourselves up to what other designers think. If we did, we’d never be happy with our work. It’s a funny thing, 80% of the time I am super confident, but voices of self doubt always creep in. It just pushes me when nobody else is there to do it.

    Footnote – I am totally wearing my jeans and converse one day. I love then and I feel my best. I will wear a bring fun top, but it’s sneaks for me!

    See you soon 🙂

    No time to proof read my comments. Lori-Ann I am sorry for all the typos…

    • Jessika says:

      I should have just talked to you Sarah!!! But then I wouldn’t have had so much fun with fonts:) I totally got to that point I think my biggest point of stress was that I’ve lost over 65lbs and all my clothes are massive. But I’ll be playing with what I’ve got and not worrying about being perfectly put together-since I’m not!!!! I was inspired by this whole thing to start a series about every day creative style-would love to see people’s outfits that make them feel good. I hope you’ll start sharing what you feel are your imperfect designs-sometimes the stuff I think is so-so gets the most love!

  2. Viv Smith says:

    Love your shoes! I’ve never heard the idea of not comparing my insides with someone’s outsides, but it makes so much sense. It’s sort of on a par with a concept I try to hold on to and remember – not to judge people as you do not know the storm that they have been called to weather.

    An everyday creative style series would be great. I’d also love to see some ways to customise and DIY tutorials for making things.

    And Jessika, you’re beautiful inside and outside. xo

    • Jessika says:

      Thank you Viv! I’m good with myself until I start doing the side by side comparison thing-then the mean girl comes knocking. Your philosophy of not judging others is such a part of my life-I just often forget that it applies to myself! Silly insides:)

      I am really excited about the every day style-I want to see creatives with their messy hair + piled with stuff desks, real style!!! Plus some fun DIY/styling/restyling wardrobes would be fun! I adore you beautiful lady, thanks again for being here!

  3. Coral says:

    I recently had a friend tell me not to compare my life to someone else’s highlight reel. So true. And as creative little bunnies, we are great at letting our imagination run wild which just blows things even more out of proportion. Not helping! You gotta run your own race, do things your way and celebrate your milestones when they come. Forget what you think you see others doing – you are often seeing only what they want to show you. And very few people show the messy stuff.

    PS – “and might fit my cat” … Best laugh I’ve had all day

    • Jessika says:

      @Coral-Love this comment! Often we know these lessons but like you said our little bunny minds go chasing themselves down rabbit holes & then only way to get back out is to stop + think/talk it out! I am so glad I have this space where I can do that + learn how other people deal with their own inner drama. I do think it is fascinating how we all have these internal stories playing out but most of the time we only show people the Cliff Notes-holding in the messy stuff gets old after awhile. Once we let it out we make space for new neuroses;)

      ps: Admittedly he is a rather fat cat!

  4. Patty Palmer says:

    I adore this post. Your vulnerability makes me jealous! Brave, brave woman.
    So at the risk of sounding like my mother, it’s an age thing. There comes a moment in a woman’s life when something shifts; we don’t notice (or care so much) what women are wearing, we just want to them to say something worth listening to. And you, my dear, have something worth listening to!
    Have fun at Alt and enjoy the fashion-ites…they color our world.

    • Jessika says:

      Thank you so much Patty! I don’t feel tremendously brave but I did do it anyway:) It is funny because the last time I remember caring what anyone was wearing was in grade 6 and my mama couldn’t afford the track suits that were so popular (yay for the 90’s!). But I got over it & was always friends with all the hippies, freaks, and funky folks-I’ve been a pretty off the wall dresser most of my life but when I was looking at my oddballness compared to the perfectly styled people I started asking if maybe I should try harder to style my own messiness. I am hoping it is an age thing-I’ve always found older women who don’t give a damn to be the most beautiful of all!

  5. Stacey says:

    I’m constantly comparing myself to others – and it’s such an energy suck. I made one of my resolutions this year to stop doing that and devote that energy to being myself more. Of course, there’s always going to be that little voice in the back of my head pointing out my ‘faults’ in comparison to others; the key is making the voice that proclaims my value and skills a bit louder to drown it out 🙂

    This year is all about growth and evolution for me and my business… I can’t afford to be worrying about others and what they think about the work I’m doing. I want to do this work and I can’t care what they think might fail or be a success. (More often than not, it’s what they think will fail that keeps me from doing things.)

    And I’m not a big shoe person, but oh I want those shoes! They look so comfy 🙂

  6. Dude, you wear your personality in your smile, your laughter, and the energy you project. And that personality is sparkly, engaging, awesome, hilarious, & magnetic.

    I’m not going to go so far as to say that you could just go naked because people won’t even notice what you’re wearing with the amazing energy you project, but it’s pretty close to true. Plus, I hear SLC is cold in January.

    Wear what makes you feel giddy or confident or has a happy memory attached to it (what were you wearing when you & Chris got engaged?) and know you’re already “dressed” & ready to go rock the hell out of ALT! xoxo

  7. Francesca says:

    Jessika, as always your posts are food for thoughts: I just spent almost half a year frozen in the same loop cause I never feel confident enough, about my work, about my creativity, about the way I look, about my family life, you name it!
    Whatever you are going to wear you are going to shine! At ALT, at TED, at the White House, it doesn’t really matter… and anyway I know you are going to wear something awesome even if it is on a budget! I admire both your inside and your outside, lady 🙂

  8. Jess…This is one of my very favorite posts. You bravely bring to the surface that rawness we all have. It has never been easier to feel that we are not enough because of how global our creative world is.
    As the new year starts, there are so many e-courses and downloads. So many “do this to be this”. It gets me crazy some days because I cannot do it all or even a bit. I would spend all my time and money trying to be instead of just “being”. I have come to the conclusion I can so easily just do me and that is enough. Some days I need reminders though. Thank you for the download.

    Each day, getting myself dressed is like painting. It is honoring how I feel that day. Many of my favorite clothes are from consignment stores. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
    You are going to shine so brightly at Alt, I expect to see your beam of light here in Pennsylvania.xo

  9. Jenn says:

    Yes! Such simple truth. I find myself doing this unconsciously sometimes, look up and wonder why I’m hurting, then check myself and give myself a big hug. Cheesy? Maybe, but it works. 🙂

  10. @Coral – Yes. That’s it isn’t it? It reminds me of those photos that show reality vs. the highlight reel version. One usually has a baby sleeping with mommy and kicking in her face and the other is a Photo-perfect version of Mommy in full make-up and hair with perfect cuddly sleeping baby.

  11. Jess, ha ha, you’ll fit in just fine with my little gang! Have you seen Maggie Mason’s Mighty Closet series? Lots of awesome thrift store fashion there, and more about creative dressing and buying things because you fall in love with their quirkiness than perfectly-styled Pinterest fashion boards.

  12. OK, so my confession is that I had some momentary jealousy at Spark Retreat, in May, of all you leaders – you and Dyana and Alex were just all so freaking cool, and dressed the part. You, Jessika, especially stood out, as you were so damn funky and fun and lovable. I thought your style was amazing – you wore it with ease, and I assumed you were just strutting your fun styles and wore them with complete ease.

    I’ve had this feeling before – of feeling not ‘cool’ enough for the crowd I’m with – wearing too many basics, or being too girly when I should be more academic or something.

    I know all of this, intellectually, is silly. And it certainly doesn’t stop me (now) from doing my thing. And I realize the more I step into what makes me truly unique, it will translate to what I wear, how I wear, and most importantly how I act.

    I don’t want to be the coolest kid in the room, anymore, I want to be me. And I know that everyone else wants the same – not only to be themselves, but to be loved for being themselves.

    And that, Miss J, takes vulnerability. I love that you continue to inspire us with your vulnerability and introspection, so we can do the same – within this community we can peel back those layers to reveal who we truly are – lovable, tender, and truly naked.

  13. Gaia says:

    Oh gosh, I love this post. I feel this way to sometimes. The constant pretty images can slip into comparison (with me coming up short!) instead of the inspiration they should be. Yes. yes. yes.

  14. Elora says:

    This year I’m preparing to start my own etsy jewelry shop, and I’m overcoming my fears of flunking. Looking at all others are doing is an incredible encouragement. I keep working on the prep, and reading other’s blogs and lessons, and it is helping keep me right along! Thanks for sharing. My intention this year is to get my shop up and running, and make myself and customers have FUN with it!

  15. Geri says:

    Oh, Jess… you astound me with your willingness and ability to simply put yourself out there & expose your vulnerability with poise and resolute determination to bat it away!

    We all wear armour to get around in life and I would venture to say that EVERYONE’s insides are a mess… the joys of being human 😉

    It’s far easier to listen to that little b*tch who tears us down, especially in front of someone who is the absolute manifestation of those fears & inadequacies… it takes great courage to not only ignore her (or slap her down for good measure) & embrace those fears, but to actually take comfort in the knowledge that someone else out there would be thankful for your “messy” insides!

    Thank you not only for this wonderful visual reminder, but also for sharing you – once again 😉

    • Jessika says:

      Thank you all for sharing such honest and thoughtful comments! After a full day of toddlering my brain is mush but I can’t wait to spend some time tomorrow responding. Just know that you are the best friends any semi-neurotic full of love girl could ask for!

  16. Moxie Lisa says:

    Jess, I think we all feel like this sometimes and it just stinks. I am seriously inspired by you no matter what you wear! I am with Sarah as I am a jeans and chuck Taylor kinda girl….no fancy high heels or dresses of any kind for this chick. Shoot most of the time, I am in my pajamas! 😉 You are going to be awesome at Alt!

  17. Sarah Coats says:

    I cannot begin to tell you how much this post blessed me. My husband and I just had this conversation last night. Actually, he talked while I cried over my shortcomings and shortcomings of being the perfect wife and mom. I am constantly comparing myself with my younger-than-me-sis-in-law who is going after her doctorate (I only just finished my associates and are now taking a break for a new baby), to my friend who seemed to have the perfectest pregnancy, not to mention just had her baby and i still have weeks to go and have been sick and am just not one of those people who love being pregnant.

    I am really grateful for this reminder and look forward to many more of your post s in the future.

  18. Brett Torrey Haynes says:

    Another WOW post! I know I’ve done this type of comparison and it can be so soul-draining. Thanks for sharing and caring. You will rock the ALT, I just know it!

  19. Dawn says:

    When it come to my business I need help with just about anything, but it wasn’t until I read this that I realized that a little bit of self help will improve myself and in turn improve my business. Thanks guys I love this blog I read it all the time and it’s been helping me do a lot lately. I even won a contest recently that I found be cause of you guys! Now A Giving Chance is helping me be the best that I can be this year with great prizes, just the push that I need to get the ball rolling this year and years to come!

  20. Well, I missed this post, but HOLY CATS I love it so much. I could write a little too much here so I’ll try to control myself. I have always managed to reserve judgment on most people because I would want them to do the same with me, but I often turn that judgment directly onto myself. The internet can be a little cruel in that regard – somebody’s always looking/feeling/doing it better than I am, to the point where I can sometimes become frozen as I feel that anything I do won’t be good enough. I put up a good fight though. But when it comes to something as public and high-profile as Alt, I can see how it could become really hard to keep that scary comparison monster under wraps. But this site is such a respite from all that. And I think you are just beautiful both inside and out, Jess. Just click the heels of those fabulous shoes together anytime you have any doubt 🙂 xoxoxo

  21. I have had this quote in my heard since I heard it floating around at ALT. Struggling this week with the ugly winds of comparison… I googled the quote… and found out it was you my dear! I was lucky enough to attend your fabulous panel… but never put the two together! You are still one of my all time speakers at ALT and I have tremendous respect for your ability to build community.

    I thank you for sharing your wise, wise words and your over flowing soul!

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