“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Since the arrival of social media, I have always struggled with accepting people’s projected success and happiness on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
Maybe this is because I am guilty of only posting the good stuff, things that would suggest my life is far from what it seems. But if you looked hard enough, you would see that behind my smiling graduation picture was the fear of what to do next; behind all of my fitness and health pictures lurked my insecure thoughts of being fat and unworthy; behind the countless selfies, hiding in the background was the fact that I spent most of my time alone, single and unhappy.
Social media is a great tool for connecting people and sharing big life events, but it is also capable of making people feel inferior, unsuccessful and even unworthy by comparison. However, this comparison phenomenon is not something we can remove from our lives entirely—it is a human condition that, unfortunately, due to the online world, has become even more powerful than before. It allows us to put somebody on a pedestal and see what we are lacking instead of seeing our own greatness.
Comparison, jealousy and fear live within us to remind us that we are human, they are part of the human condition, so instead of loathing them we need to start using them to our advantage.
That means using social platforms as a way of finding out who we are and what we really want.
I once read that we accept the love that we think we deserve; this was a turning point for me, it was as relevant to the failed relationships in my life as it was to this social media bubble I was caught up in. So I decided to start questioning what it was I wanted and why I felt so trapped. It was only then, through this Facebook lens, that I discovered my own journey. I finally decided enough was enough and took action. I was sick of seeing posts and pictures and having my first thoughts being jealous thoughts.
As soon as I made the decision to change my outlook, my thoughts changed from Why can’t that be me? to That is going to be me. I started to take stock of my life, creating vision boards and plans to start living a life that I would love. I started using Facebook and Instagram to my advantage; instead of seeing jealousy I saw inspiration, following accounts that encouraged travel, and engaging in friends’ posts who I knew had uprooted their lives and moved to foreign lands.
Here are a few tools I used to make social media less threatening:
Embrace: Embrace the jealous moments. Jealousy is nothing other than an emotion that extracts our worst qualities. Embracing them and breaking them down allows us to understand what the real issues are. If you find yourself jealous of the fitness enthusiast, maybe it’s time to start a new regiment. If you find yourself jealous of all the couples on your newsfeeds, maybe it’s time to start putting yourself out there. Or maybe you are just like me, and it’s travel that gets your juices flowing. Whatever it is, don’t ignore it; don’t unfollow those threads that fill your news feed—instead, meditate on it and allow yourself to see what it is about them that isn’t sitting right.
Explore: Once you have acknowledged those jealous moments, it’s time to start exploring your options. If you identified with the fitness aspect, then research what options you have; if you know you enjoy running, check out your local running clubs. Or get some friends together and start your own club. Once you start exploring, the possibilities are endless.
Plan and prepare: I am a planner—if I can visualise it, then it becomes more real to me. Start a vision board or a journal and start adding notes and clippings to them. Rip out articles that inspire you; print the pictures that scare you. Then look at them everyday until you can see yourself there.
Feel the fear and do it anyway: One of the biggest obstacles to making changes in our lives is fear. It has stopped me from doing some pretty life-changing things. But getting past the fear leads us into new and exciting adventures, so if it scares you, then it challenges you, and if it challenges you then it is sure to change you. If we let fear run our lives then we will stay stuck in a life that isn’t fulfilling us.
Make the decision, take things one step at a time, and you will begin to see how the rest will unfold.
Author: Stephanie Lendon
Image: João Silas/Unsplash
Editor: Emily Bartran