Thanks to our friend social media, we can constantly compare our lives to the lives of others; whether that’s the girl you went to school with for seven years or that Instagram influencer you’ve been obsessing over for the past few weeks. We look at those beautiful photos or that LinkedIn post and think; “Why isn’t my life like that? Why haven’t I achieved such things?”
Personally, I deleted my Facebook account (not once, but twice) because of how crappy it made me feel about myself. That stream of constant updates from people who I had sleepovers with when I was 10 to my distant cousins I don’t really speak to anymore made me feel like a loser – there was always something that somebody was celebrating, always an amazing life goal being achieved. It was so much pressure.
Without Facebook, the pressure certainly lifted, but the truth is I make the very same comparisons on all my other social media platforms too. It seems there isn’t much of a break from it, unless you really force yourself to take a break from the internet altogether.
Sure, there are times when looking through these feeds of updates can make you feel motivated, inspired even to go out there and achieve your goals. But when you suffer from anxiety or depression, these times are few and far between.
Through a lot of reflection about my life and what I’ve done during my 25 years, I finally cracked it:
The only person I should be comparing myself to is myself.
If I really want to do better, make my dreams happen and buy that gorgeous cabin out in Canada someday, I need to get competitive with myself rather than others.
I also need to think about how far I have come compared to my old self. I can look back at those times when I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life (which is perfectly fine at any age, by the way), and realise that through blogging, I have managed to improve my writing skills to become a pretty decent writer. That’s pretty massive, when you consider that at 14 years old the only thing I wanted to do was listen to Green Day and dream of marrying Billie Joe Armstrong. It may have taken some time, dedication and hard work, but don’t all good things?
This belief and overall life lesson is not something I have completely mastered – I am still jealous of stunning holiday snaps on Instagram, awesome promotions on LinkedIn and anybody that says they have finished writing their novel. But by continuously learning to compare myself to myself and nobody else, I can slowly building up my confidence again, and say that I am genuinely happy for those around me who are achieving great things (though still a tiny bit jealous).
One key thing to take away from this is that social media is a small peephole into somebody else’s life. Generally, people like to share the best parts of their lives with the internet, as it is something they would like to celebrate. Those darker times appear much less on our social media feeds.
So when, like me, you’re scrolling through each social media app first thing in the morning, take it all with a pinch of salt. Take a minute to think about far you have come, the obstacles you have had to overcome, and give yourself a pat on the back. You’re doing great.
This post was originally written for the Glamour Writing Competition (which closed on 8th September).