Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle – Jon Acuff.
The grass is always greener on the other side – or at least that is how the saying goes. When we spend our time comparing our lives to those of others, we often feel inadequate.
It is easy to get caught up in the highlight reels scattered across various social media platforms and be envious or discouraged because your life doesn’t look like someone else’s’. The curator of the feed gets to determine which parts of their life are broadcasted and while we may see part of the truth, we don’t see the whole truth. Each of us has our own front stage and backstage persona – the side that very few see and the parts which we are okay to share with a wider audience.
We all have our own perceptions of reality and many view failure as a taboo subject, something to be swept under the rug. Rather than being transparent, we boast and celebrate our highlights and make it seem to the outside world that life is easy, we didn’t work for it, we asked and it just happened. Even though it’s typically a myth, you still believe it happens that way for others.
You don’t see the hours, the sweat, the challenges that were faced and overcome, the sleepless nights, the opportunity costs, only the end result and what they want you to see. If we want to truly celebrate our successes, we need to remember where we came from and talk about the whole picture, rather than just a small part. How can we encourage others to follow their dreams and create goals to work towards when their idols and those they follow on social media make it look so easy. Overnight success is a myth, so is success without hard work. Good things take time, we don’t have silver plates and if we want something, we have to work for it.
When we compare our lives to highlight reels, it isn’t a fair comparison. We compare our whole life to what we perceive anothers life to be based on an outsiders’ perspective. If someone posts photos of them traveling continuously, eating gourmet meals, staying at lavish hotels, dressed in designer brands and attending prestigious events, we may feel envious, jealous or discouraged.
In the past when I have spent time scrolling mindlessly through social media feeds (mainly Instagram), I usually feel sad afterwards. My self-esteem takes a hit and I feel like I am not doing enough with my life, I’m not this or that. Once I began to become more conscious of how my interactions with social media platforms were making me feel, I decided to go on a temporary hiatus. After I reinstalled the application on my phone, I chose to delete my account and start over. I am now conscious of which feeds I follow and limit my screen time.
While this may seem like a drastic approach it isn’t one that you need to follow. I would simply encourage you to reflect on how much time you spend on social media platforms, the companies and individuals you follow and how you feel before and after you scroll through your feeds. If you began to notice a pattern or that there are certain pages which don’t have a positive impact on you, that’s when you may want to do an audit and un-follow them.
Consider your purpose for using social media. Is it to interact with friends, family or follow brands/individuals who you admire? Or is it to make yourself feel inadequate? Chances are, it isn’t the second option yet that is how many of us tend to feel. When we use social media as a way to interact on a global scale and to use it for inspiration, motivation and connection, we reduce the chance of comparing ourselves to others. If you want to make changes to your life, run your own race and compare who you are to who you were to monitor your progress.
We compare ourselves to others, we don’t see what goes on behind closed doors. We have our stage and backstage personas yet when we compare, we neglect that fact. Smoke and mirrors. What you see isn’t always what you get, especially when it comes to social media.