Comparison is the Thief of Joy: Social Media Edition

To-Do List:
Scroll, Like, Refresh.
Scroll, Like, Refresh.
Scroll, Like, Refresh.
Put down the phone.
Stare at your reflection.
Make a mental list of every flaw you see.

Does this routine sound familiar? How can something as harmless as social media make us feel like we’re worthless? There are days where I can easily trap myself in a full-on social media loop. I always start with Instagram. I then move to Facebook. After that, I bounce to either Snapchat or Twitter. Then it’s back to Instagram as Scroll-fest 2019 continues to rage on. This was a habit I picked up on a few years ago when my mental health was at an all-time low. It began as a comfort. It was a way to fulfill my social needs without leaving the house. I would spend the majority of my day in bed, with Netflix on in the background and my phone glued to my hand. Every time I engaged in this behavior, I ended up feeling worse than I had before. Between friends from high school landing their dream jobs to strangers on Instagram with perfect eyebrows, the comparisons were endless. Why am I not doing anything with my degree? Why isn’t my body good enough? Why is it that every time I try to pull off a smoky eye, I just look like a sad raccoon? For hours I would engage in my ritualistic social media consumption, which would always lead to that all too familiar feeling of self-doubt.

No makeup. No Filter. No Problem.

Reflecting on those times, I now realize that my struggles with comparison are far less severe today. Unfortunately, old habits die hard. When I’m having a hard day, all I want to do is snuggle up in bed with my phone. Sometimes I give in, even though I know that it’s probably going to lead to an increase in negative thoughts. I see everyone living their absolute best lives and that makes me truly happy. Until it doesn’t. I tell myself that I will never be as content, successful or beautiful as the people on my phone screen. When those thoughts start to creep in, I know it’s time to put the phone down and revaluate.
My first step in combatting my urge to compare is reminding myself of this: Not many people are willing to post things on social media that aren’t flattering to them in some way. How do I know this? Well, it’s because I do the exact same thing. When I was in that dark place a few years ago, I had maybe 10 pictures on my Instagram. Posting pictures of myself at that time was my version of a nightmare. I mostly used the app to live vicariously through the perfect lives of others. After years of hating myself, I’m making up for lost time by posting as often as I want. Posting on Instagram has really helped me build my self-confidence. That being said, I am completely guilty of putting my best face forward on social media. The perfect lighting, a well thought out caption, a filter that looks natural but also hides my flaws. It’s so important that I am mindful of the fact that other people are doing the exact same thing. This year I’m going to do my best to abandon the idea that everything I post needs to be perfect. I am actively retraining my brain to see myself as beautiful in all forms. I am now trying to see my value as I simultaneously celebrate the success of others.

I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with wanting to present yourself in a positive light. You need to do whatever makes you feel amazing, confident and beautiful! The problem lies in hating the unposed, unfiltered version of yourself. Your life holds so much value, my love. Your individual accomplishments are just as incredible as anyone else’s. The fitness Instagrammer who you worship probably has bad body image days just like everyone else. Your high school friend with the dream career may miss the days when they didn’t work a 9-5. Everyone struggles sometimes, but our struggles don’t define us. Don’t let social media comparison steal your joy. Celebrate your life for what it is.
Scroll. Like. Smile. Repeat.

- Makenzie D.

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