1 of at least 5 selfies until I liked the one I got
Off the shoulder shirt that I nearly never wear off the shoulder
Lightened and brightened
Positioned by a good natural light source
After reading an article in The Guardian, I felt like I wanted to shine more light on this particular topic, with a recent personal experience.
I will be the first to admit that I have some ugly qualities. I’m the queen of overly dramatic melt downs when I get a little too busy. Yes, I throw tantrums like a tiny little human child who missed their nap and is now face down on the floor of a grocery store. No matter how hard I try, I am always messy. Even when I am not messy…I am somehow messy. Paintings of dogs smoking cigars and playing poker makes me want to scream, and I get over the top irritated when someone near me makes too many “mouth noises”. Please. Don’t use that as a weapon against me. I’m perpetually reminding myself to settle down when I get too tough on myself, which happens more than I’d like to admit.
Truly, I know my faults. I am probably a little bit too in tune with my shortcomings, actually. At least, I thought I was. That was until the new year came, and I decided that I needed to take a step back and evaluate my actions a little bit. I am not a huge proponent for New Years Resolutions, but I do think it is a good idea to evaluate once in a while.
My phone screen time was embarrassing, to be honest. I don’t even know why I was on my phone so much to begin with other than habit. The worst part about it, too, was that I didn’t even want to be on my phone. It was boring, it was feeling inauthentic, I was running out of witty or fun captions as I have been increasingly swamped with school and sometimes less than positive vibes, and, now that I am a full time student again, it was feeling like a huge waste of time most days. Seriously, my phone is a huge distraction.
I surely cannot be the only one who has experienced this. A very cute, environmentally sustainable, very me, clothing brand had been seducing me for probably a year via Instagram. It’s advertisements popped up every single time I went on the app. I filled and emptied a shopping cart about ten thousand times. I talked myself out of mindless spending nearly every time I logged on. Then, in January, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t spend excess money. It was right after Christmas after all.
Jokes on me.
One night, I logged onto Instagram and was possessed by the consumerism demon. I pressed the PayPal button. Instant regret. I felt so stupid. I had, actually, failed myself in this small action. I didn’t need it and didn’t even want it. Somehow, my brain was convinced I did need it and did want it. It was in that moment that Instagram won, and I fell into its trap. I was peeved.
So, like so many others do, I “took a social media break”. It started as me attempting to focus better on my school work, but it only took a week to realize how sick social media was making me. Truthfully, I was, and surely am, addicted. But, the waste of time isn’t even the bad part. It was during that month I realized that I was subconsciously 100% green with envy.
a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.
Ding ding ding. I am waving my hand in the air over here sick in bed with a case of the jealousy bug. Clothes, trips, relationships, friends, bodies, hobbies, talents, you name it, I always feel that twinge of wishing I had it. How do I know this? It took me logging back onto Instagram after about a month and instantly feeling that familiar feeling of discontentment with my own life to know something was wrong.
What the heck? How did I acquire this nasty attribute? It isn’t something that I feel or notice in my day to day with real humans that I interact with face to face. How can a thread of pictures make me feel so lousy, and why do I allow it to make me feel so lousy? Also…why do I feel like I have to post about my life all the time for everyone to see? Am I unknowingly trying to make others envy me?
2020. The year of what? The year of envy, I tell you. From the food we cook to the careers we have to butts we were born with (or not) to awards we attain to family gatherings and everything in between, we want it. We literally have a platform to compare ourselves to people all over the world. Worse yet…so many of the people and lives we see are filtered, altered, or down right fake. Try attaining a life that literally doesn’t exist! Then, to make matters even worse, we carry our phones with us everywhere and, when we want to decompress, we open up our apps and see a better life than ours at that moment.
FOMO (fear of missing out) does not discriminate.
Someone always has something to say for you to be better, do better, make more money, workout more effectively… Better parenting, better traveling destinations, better career choices, better workouts. Oh! And, while you are becoming better (by social media standards), also feel guilty! Guilty for working out too much and guilty for not working out enough, guilty for not wearing enough makeup and guilty for not being “natural”, guilty for posting too much about yourself or not being interesting enough to gain or hold onto followers.
So then, what do we do to combat all of this? Construct ourselves as something of envy, of course. In the article, it explained that we suddenly realize that we don’t measure up to the lives we tell others we are living, and we look at ourselves as if we were someone else, resulting in envy of our own self. How insane is that?! And yet, that is EXACTLY how I had been feeling. Some strange inauthentic version of myself with a lack of caption creativity…because it even matters? This game is exhausting. Being told that there is always something that needs fixing or altering is exhausting. Even out of good intention, those we follow are often telling us how to do it better, whatever it may be.
I am not trying to accuse you. But, I do want to offer a space for those of you feeling like I do (or did as I am working on all of this). I also don’t want to tell you what to do, because, for crying out loud, social media is just jam packed with people telling each other what to do and how to live. This is the reality of 2020. So, in this reality, this is what I am doing, now.
I’m not off of all social media. I’ve been off of Facebook for some time (one of my better decisions), but I do enjoy having a platform to connect with friends and family around the word, and there are a lot of positives when it comes to social media! So, I am trying to be more intentional about the habits I make on social media. Asking the questions, why am I going on social media, what do I want to get out of it, could I be doing something more fulfilling? When I post, I am asking the question, what am I trying convey and why am I trying to convey it? Also, am I listening to my gut? Does what I am posting even feel right, is it forced or simply mindless?
“It is about not interpreting envy as a positive or a negative, but trying to understand what it is telling you.”
In the end, navigating all of this isn’t black and white, and actually a lot harder than it probably should be. Initially, I was embarrassed to share about this, because it is such a “millennial problem”. The fact is that, no matter how silly it seems, it is a problem if is a contributing factor to my mental health.
So, I leave you with this. It is all about how you personally feel about your social media presence and taking time to notice if it is helping or hurting you. Honestly. When do we cross the line between sharing and creating something just to make other people notice? Really, I think this whole thought process matters a lot in a time of such discontentment. How can we be content if we are constantly being told not to be? In my opinion, when we focus on the here and now of our real social lives, it is easier to see our blessings in their entirety.
Rachel Brathen wrote on this, ironically, the day after I was writing on it. I love her advice (AND HER AS A HUMAN, LETS BE HONEST):
“Try looking inward instead of outward. Soften, instead of tensing up. Choose feeling body over your thinking mind. Give yourself as many chances as you can in a day to practice self-compassion so that you can marvel a little more over the beauty that you are already bringing to this world.
Because the truth is that
in this moment
and in every moment
you are enough
And all of this, my friends, is quite the work in progress.