I avoid Facebook not only for the app that listens to your conversations but because of the curiosity that peaks when I am on it. Wondering what people are doing with their lives instead of having to think about mine, my thumb scrolls through old work colleagues’ or the school peers’ Facebook profiles and photos.
That person I barely spoke to lives in a beautiful country I’ve never been to. That person I know of has a super cool job now. That person looks fantastic in every single selfie and tagged photo, how is that even possible?
Feelings of jealousy flood my bloodstream as I automatically compare my life to the ones that I am seeing on screen, and I have the urgent need to throw my phone across the room and hide under the covers for a century. I know that this comparison isn’t healthy and will just make my self confidence lower than it already is, and yet the curiosity cat inside me just wants to see how other people are getting on with their adult lives. It’s as if they have all the answers and I think I am going to come across a magic formula to help me get better at being an adult. That may be true in some ways – there’s always going to be somebody who is more successful than you, unless you are Oprah – but I’m probably not going to find out the solution to better adulting when scrolling through pictures of somebody else’s life.
A key thing I have to remind myself is that these photos are the ‘best of’ a person’s life in most cases. People want to show off the best parts of their days, whether that is sitting with their SO with pizza or sitting near a cliff top overlooking the most stunning view imaginable. The other bits of their lives probably won’t end up on their profile, unless they are the sort of person who likes to update their followers or friends on what they ate for lunch or how much they hate traffic in the morning (each to their own and all that).
There’s always more to somebody’s life than their social media profiles – just like there is more to somebody’s life than how much money they have (no really, it’s true).
Being jealous of somebody else’s life can make you feel like a complete loser, like all the things you have done and been through haven’t been enough. You should be more successful, in love, friendships, career and family – but who says what is successful and what isn’t nowadays anyway? How is it even measured?
So I asked the internet (my small number of Twitter followers to be precise) how they measure their success, with the four options being:
– Comparison to others
– Generalised life stages
– Parents’ proudness
44% of 9 voters (told you it was a small amount) ticked the “Comparison to others” option and clicked on vote. I wasn’t surprised because thank you to social media, our eyeballs are constantly seeing pictures and videos about how other people live their lives.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about sharing life experiences with people, connecting with others on social media and generally having a good time – but the green eyed monster that lives in us all can’t help turn some of those times into jealous rage or upset because we can’t help but wish that we were living that life instead of the one we have been given.
We are given certain circumstances in life like our DNA and genetic inheritances, but a lot of the other parts of life are up to us. May seem hard to believe but there are so many inspirational stories out there about people who have had nothing and managed to create something amazing, that you’ll see that it can happen, and yes, you can do it too. We can build the lives we want as long as we put the work into it (easier said than done, I’m still trying to figure it out and I know I’ll still be figuring it out for many, many years to come). You and I can use the jealousy we feel about other people’s lives to further our own, fuelling those emotions into energy for something better and something for us.
Your success also cannot be measured when looking at somebody else. They’ve lived a different life to you, so of course they are going to be in a different place to you. Just like the 33% of that small number of voters, happiness should be and is the only real way to measure your successes in life, because if you ain’t happy about what you are or what you are doing, a pay cheque or a pretty photo means diddily-squit.