Just like everyone else these days, I have Instagram and Facebook. While I love social media and being able to connect with friends and family all over the world, if taken seriously, it can add to a lot of the mild anxiety and depression we experience in today’s world. As someone who struggles with perfectionism, this is a big learning curve.
How many times have you scrolled through your feed and thought, ‘that person’s on vacation AGAIN?’ or ‘Wow, they have a perfect relationship’ or ‘How is she so effortlessly fit?’ The reality is social media is the highlight reel of people’s lives- myself included. No one posts pictures of themselves in sweats, scrolling through the internet (full disclosure-that’s me right now), or mentions that to get that bikini shot, they didn’t eat all day then used three apps to enhance their abs. Social media has become a false connection that has left us feeling more isolated than ever.
When we see these images in the media and on social media, we believe that everything is supposed to be perfect, and that we’re somehow flawed if our life doesn’t look that way. You’re anything other than happy right now? You’re made to feel you must be unstable. I experienced this three years ago when I went to see my doctor and mentioned my high stress job to her. Instead of relating to me, she suggested an anti-anxiety medication. Talk about feeling flawed!
We are our own worst critic, and when we compare ourselves to these ‘perfect’ images, it only adds to the feeling that we’re never good enough. I was discussing this topic with a friend the other day, when we both realized we have no idea what we’re doing with our lives and that this is actually normal. My friend said she’s congratulated every time people ask about her job- “that’s amazing that you got a full time job in your field of study!” yet she feels guilty because she hates it. Isn’t she supposed to like it? I mean, she has dental benefits… Society says that her 9-5 job is stable and safe! These definitely aren’t bad things. However, we shouldn’t feel bad if we don’t love what society deems ‘good’, or if we change our minds while figuring out what we want. She said she envied me because I’m “doing so much with my life, like finishing my yoga teacher training while working part-time and possibly going back to school as well.” All the while, I admitted I envied her because she has a full time job and has already bought a condo. It turns out the grass isn’t always greener. We feel as though we’re the only ones who don’t know what we’re doing and have ‘negative’ emotions, or feel stuck. This of course only adds a layer of shame to the way we feel. We don’t express these thoughts because we fear no one will understand, because everyone’s life is perfect- we saw it this morning on Instagram.
I think we’ve lost a lot of the real human connection that can put us at ease and let us know we’re all in this together. Instead, our days can sometimes unknowingly be filled with media that has the opposite effect on us.
In reality, if we express ourselves- the good and the bad, to those close to us, they will likely share with us the same, and we’re able to realize everyone is struggling. If we stop pretending that everything is perfect all the time and get real with ourselves and each other, we can move through these normal negative emotions and into the positive changes we want to make in our lives.
I’m definitely one to keep things hidden away, ‘keep it positive, no one likes a negative person!’ But the truth is that we’re human. We have negative emotions come up, we don’t love everything all of the time, and the perfectionist in me is learning that this is healthy.
The faster we realize we’re all human, the better we can feel in our uncertainty.
You don’t know what you’re doing either? Great, welcome to the club!