As if it’s not hard enough to seamlessly go through life dealing with your own obstacles, Facebook, our social dictionary, likes to remind us of all the wonderful things going on for others. There is growing depression stemmed from social media, and it’s hard to ignore when your news feed is full of the amazing news and adventures of family and friends. Meanwhile, you’re scrolling on your phone in a t-shirt from a gym you’ve never gone to, wearing PJ pants with a hole in it while stuffing your face with the chocolate bar you shouldn’t be eating.
With the exponential growth in the usage of social media, it’s important to be aware of how to deal with some of the issues that come with it. I’d be lying if I said that I don’t occasionally get cases of “fomo” or slight depression from social media, but it really all comes down to perspective and confidence at the very core. Comparison could affect even some of the most confident at times when they’re at their lowest points. This doesn’t just apply to social media, although social media may be the most obvious form of comparison. Comparing yourself with others could apply to personal aspects, career progress, the workplace, and even strangers walking down the street.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that perspective plays a large part in comparison. It could also be that I’m a lot more confident and comfortable in my own skin at this point in my life. Over the past year, I’ve tried to consciously reflect every time I started to feel an unwanted emotion associated with social media or comparison. Ever since I started this practice, I’ve found that I’ve been a lot more happy and satisfied with my own life and less affected by everything else going on. Here are some things I realized in the process.
1. It’s not always what it seems
The pre-planned, carefully curated, photo-shopped pictures are not always what it seems. It’s natural for everyone to want to show their best selves. No one wants to show themselves studying until 2 am for an exam they procrastinated on, or when they’re upset because they just got laid off from a job. Also, social media is a past time to some. People don’t want to see negative or sad news. Also, people don’t want to seem like they’re always complaining about work, school or life.
Remind yourself that most people use social media to share special moments, positive news, and most people use it as a way to show their best self. We only see what people want us to see, so there’s a lot of other things going on in every person’s life we don’t know about. Everyone, regardless of social class, privilege, ethnicity or age is going through their own personal struggles and journeys that we don’t see. It’s important to remind yourself of this before you judge or criticize someone, or before you judge and criticize yourself.
2. Negativity consumes you
When you compare yourself to others and constantly dwell on what others have that you don’t, it starts to become a negative cycle. It’s normal to occasionally feel frustrated with your own journey, but bringing down others won’t make yourself feel better in the long run. You may feel temporary confidence by belittling someone else’s achievements, but it doesn’t change your own position and actually makes you a worse person for saying and thinking mean things. It just makes you come off like an insecure and jealous person, unable to be truly happy for someone else’s achievements.
Bluntly put, people only care and say things when they feel like you’re doing better than them, but when great things are going on in their lives, they could care less if you’re doing worse than them. I’ve personally had people belittle my own achievements by saying I only achieved this or that because of my connections, based on how I dress or look, or that whatever I achieved is just mundane and actually not impressive at all. It’s frustrating to hear someone belittle my hard work, but I’m confident in my accomplishments and I’m aware that it may come from a place of insecurity and jealousy.
3. Ask yourself why you feel the way you do
Before letting negative thoughts or emotions consume you, ask yourself why you feel the way you do. Is it because they have something you really want? Is it because you’re in your own rut and they have so many great things going on for them? Try to understand and acknowledge the reason why you feel the way you do. Only through this understanding can you separate the way you feel about yourself from the other person. Once you’ve acknowledged the “why”, you can move onto learning how to deal with how you feel.
4. It’s how you see it
It’s normal to feel a little jealous or to compare sometimes, but it’s important to know how to deal with it and that comes down to perspective. You can either choose to let it consume you and become a negative and malice person, or you can acknowledge the news for what it is, and try to use it to better yourself. While I was studying for the GMAT exam, one of my good friends got accepted into school. Instead of being jealous of her, I actually used it as a reminder for myself to study harder. I knew how hard she worked to try to get accepted into school, so why would I be upset at her for working hard while I chose to go out instead or scroll social media all day? Instead I used it to give myself a reminder kick in the butt to get my crap together and get back to studying too.
The same applies to when someone has something that you want. Whether it’s a car, handbag or house. Instead of being jealous of someone else, focus on your own journey and try to improve yourself. If someone bought your dream house, focus on whether your current actions will bring you to the same results. If I’m spending recklessly and going on lavish vacations while someone else was saving all their bonuses and money to buy a house, maybe I need to reassess my priorities or find ways to increase my income if I’m not willing to sacrifice my lifestyle.
It also comes down to being realistic of yourself and having confidence in your own journey. I pay tuition for the MBA out of my own pocket, so it’s understandable that I may not have much money left over for a vacation or a luxury handbag. But to me, my investment in myself will allow me to have even more of those luxuries and options in the future. So when I see others living their lives, I remind myself that I’ll be able to do that soon too, just somewhere down the line. Sometimes I’ll even jot down the name of the restaurant or vacation spot on a wishlist of all the things I’d like to do once I’m done school!
At the end of the day, social media or comparing yourself with others is what you make of it. You could either choose to dwell on all the things you don’t have and obsessively watch others live their lives while being bitter and hypercritical of every little detail. Or, you can choose to acknowledge it as separate from your own identity and treat it like “watching the news” except the news involves people you know. Any sort of bitterness, self loathing or resentment may come from a place of insecurity and confusion in oneself. So instead of letting it consume you, acknowledge it for what it is and focus on continually improving yourself and living your best life instead.
Lately, I’ve been swapped working since it’s currently deadline season and am focused on trying to tie up some loose ends on accomplishing all my 2017 goals. Unfortunately, I haven’t found time to take some new pictures yet, so instead I’m sharing one of my favourite photoshoots from 2015 by photographer Karen Tran. I’ve previously worked with Karen on a couple of photoshoots and she has a great eye for photography! Check out her work here!
Have you dealt with instances where you’ve compared yourself or felt jealous? What are some of your tips or perspectives on this? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
Photography By: KAREN TRAN PHOTOGRAPHY
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Shirt – ARITZIA (old) – similar
Skirt – ZARA (old) – similar
Shoes – NINE WEST (old) – similar
Clutch – MARCIANO (old) – similar
Scarf – ARITZIA (old) – similar