In a million different ways, I think the internet and social media are extremely beneficial to us in this fast-paced world. Need a quick recipe for a work potluck? You got it. Last minute birthday gift? Amazon prime has you covered. How tall is Josh Hutcherson? Short, says google. Want new makeup without showering or leaving your couch? No problem.
Just like anything else in life though, for every upside to the world wide web, there are also downsides.
I think probably everyone ever has gone through a bout, or several bouts of low self-esteem, or a struggle with confidence. Typically, we think of these lows peaking during middle school, and your so-called, “awkward stage.” Yeah, I totally do recall middle school circa 2001 (yikes!) and feeling kind of down that girls had more Limited Too zodiac t-shirts than I did, or wishing I had more colors in Adidas Superstars. (Yeah, that was totally a real concern of mine.) We all went through those things: acne, braces, ridiculously long arms, thinking roll-on glitter was blush and eye shadow. You know, all that young Ke$ha stuff. But, in so many ways, we all experienced that together.
I’m prepared to admit to you that now, at 26, I’m experiencing my most awkward, unsure of myself stage yet. Why? Well, instead of one fleeting moment in the hallways before science class daydreaming of more jelly bracelets, all I have to do is hit refresh on whatever social media platform I’m viewing, to feel bad about myself. Maybe that sounds dramatic to you, but I really think we’re almost desensitized to the frequency with which we compare ourselves to other people.
Every single day, without even realizing it, I scroll through Instagram and all kinds of tiny seeds are planted in my brain. From the superficial: I should really fix my eyebrows. How does she never wear the same thing twice? Man, I wish I had a new car. Am I the only person who hasn’t mastered winged eyeliner? To the even more personally hurtful: Where did I go wrong to not have a job I love? Was my education good enough? I’m pretty sure I wasted a lot of youth on a dead end career/degree. To the downright ridiculous: I need to look more like, dress more like, be more like someone else.
GUYS! That is so bad. We have to stop this, and I know that I’m not the only one who does it. I have conversations daily with friends and coworkers that indicate the constant comparison game. We don’t even know we’re doing it! And that’s because all this information is so easily and instantly accessible.
I wish that this were the part of this rant where I provide a fool proof list on how to love yourself and realize your own worth, but I don’t have that. Why? Because those things are personal. Because I’m still working on this everyday. Because your list might be vastly different than mine.
I am happy to share what I’m personally working on, though!
First of all, things are much more fulfilling when I do them for myself. Last summer, I saw on Facebook that an acquaintance of mine was having significant success with an exercise program. I thought, “I need to have abs like her,” and went on to half-ass the first two weeks of a twelve week program. This all ended with a gigantic grilled cheese, followed by two more weeks of feeling sorry for myself. More recently, at my annual check-up, my doctor told me that my good cholesterol was not optimal, and that exercise would improve that number. Somehow, knowing that light exercise would directly benefit me, for me, I’ve felt much more motivated to work on my fitness (yeah, Fergie) several days a week.
To piggyback on that concept, I think I’ve finally reached that stage in adulthood where I’ve realized that taking care of myself is not only important, it also makes me feel good. Long gone are the days of wondering how many years it’s been since I last saw a dentist (yuck!), or using ice cream as a solution to every emotional crisis (now, I only use it to solve some). Just incorporating some simple habits into my life, like drinking more water and using a fluoride rinse nightly, makes me feel better about me.
Also, I’m trying to condition myself to not feel the constant need to impress others. To me, the most crucial part of this equation has been building relationships with people who lift me up. I got really lucky here, (#blessup… is this what we say now?) as I’ve had the same tried and true group of friends for years. (I guess I’m an awesome judge of character, go me! Yay self-esteem.) I don’t say this at all to imply that you should be weeding anyone who hurts you out of your life. However, as an adult, I’m able to discern how my friends handle conflict, and how they encourage me to handle it in the right way as well. We may poke fun, or be flaky, but when it really counts, I know they are only “One Call Away” (you’ll have to pardon that weird plug. I’m obsessed with Charlie Puth right now) to lend an ear, or a shoulder, or clothes to wear on my honeymoon. Specifically though, I love them all for not judging, and sometimes even encouraging my whole, sweatpants in public thing.
Finally, a realization that’s been really beneficial to me is: I am not alone. You’re not the only person who questions their career choice, or drives an old car. I’d be willing to bet that even some of your #fitfam people turn to ice cream on occasion. On the flipside of that, that pretty girl whose photos your creep on, or the funny guy at your office? Those people don’t have a monopoly on pretty and funny. No need to compare yourself to anyone, when you have all the freedom to continue to be the awesome person you already are. And you know what? That’s kind of the beautiful part of growing up and growing old, right? We’re not alone, but we are all individually beautiful and worthwhile. Maybe it still is acne and braces and body glitter, fast forward 15 years?
Anyway, to quote some rapper, or something? I have no idea, “You do you.”