I don’t think I have enough fingers to count how many times I took breaks from using my social media channels, especially my Instagram account because I felt it affected my mental health.
I remember at the beginning, everything was so simple, you were just sharing moments of your life, mostly silly-funny with your family, friends and pets. In years, it became a most to post only your “highlights”, edited pictures where you look perfect, your skin is flawless, your clothes color coordinated and if you had also the Eiffel Tour behind you, that’s it, you were on Explore page with thousands of likes.
As a consequence, the mindset changed and it put a lot of pressure, especially for the young generation not to post something that is not near to perfection, afraid of what people may think, that they are just living a normal life and there is nothing exciting happening.
If the problem before were the magazines altering people’s confidence that they are not skinny enough, they don’t wear designer clothes or travel to the most exotic destinations, now everyone is acting like their life is their own magazine and they need to show more and more of their perfect moments, which are actually directed. You prepare yourself to take a picture, you spend hours doing your make up, you buy certain clothes (or you receive them from brands if you are an influencer) or you book a holiday to visit certain locations just for the purpose to take a picture, to gain more likes or followers.
Trust me, I was doing the same.
every time they visit the app
every time they visit the app
every time they visit the app
The reason why social media (I will refer to Instagram as that was for me, for other people is Facebook, or Twitter, now TikTok) affected me was because I was comparing myself to others. And I think a lot of us still do it.
I needed breaks and I just deleted the app not to see those perfect pictures anymore. And I tried to find the reasons, the triggers why it made me feel so miserable.
The more pictures and influencers I was discovering, the more I wanted their life as they seemed so happy.
The flawless skin, the ash blonde long hair braided looking like a greek goddess, the “I woke up like this” look, while most of the days I looked like a potato, with dark circles which I couldn’t cover with 3 tubes of concealer because I was working too many hours for 2 jobs.
The perfect make up and all the choices for different products (sometimes a professional make up station or drawers full of make up supplies), while I barely knew how to draw those damn eye lines for the cat look (I still can’t get them equal) and I owned maximum 10 make up products, didn’t know the difference between brushes and how to use them and had a minimum knowledge to do a simple make up not to be confused with a ghost.
The perfect closet with expensive clothes to have millions of options to dress for different occasions, the accessories and designer bags and shoes to complement each outfit, while my most expensive clothing piece was a pair of jeans I had to debate to buy it for 30 min least.
The possibility to travel the world, booking luxurious hotel rooms and eating at restaurants (I am still hunted by images of girls enjoying a bubble bath, close to a huge window and seeing the best view of the city), while I had to book an all inclusive 5 days trip with 6 months in advance to be able to pay it or choose the low cost flying companies and AirBnB accommodation for a weekend spent in an European city and eating from the supermarket and even cooking to save some money.
The perfect body. The toned legs without cellulite. The 6 pack. While I hardly found the motivation to go to gym after a busy day at work and a tight schedule to deliver my photography projects and I was binge eating for all the sad moments in my life and getting fat.
The perfect couple. Having fun all the time, never seem to be fighting. While I kept on meeting the wrong people, feeling unappreciated and loosing hope that I will ever find love again.
The other photographers who seem to have everything sorted out and maybe editing skills that I lack. The “impostor syndrome” making me doubt myself, soon after I started each new project.
All these together, all the pictures reminding me of the person I am not and the things or people I don’t have or the activities I can’t do. And of course, that is why I wasn’t happy.
Why do I want to live someone’s else life? Because they seem happy. And I want to be happy.
At least I discovered my ultimate goal. Then what makes me happy?
Is it the same thing as everyone is bragging about? The clothes, the travel, the luxurious life?
Is my life so meaningless because I am not like everyone else?
We kind of get this mindset since childhood. Even our parents were guilty for comparing us with other kids who were better at school or different activities. Of course, they were only trying to motivate us to be better, but the pressure was to be better than the others, not a version of ourselves.
And now, these online pictures will make you feel like you are not enough. Like you need to do more.
So, I started thinking what is important for me and what is actually making me happy.
Whenever you have a problem, my advice is to just work through it. You should write down what is bothering you and why and where it comes from. You identify, name it outloud and take ownership. Then you can do the work to change your mind and as a consequence you will change the way you feel and react.
During all the breaks I took, I discovered how much time I had to invest in myself. I took all that time of wishing to live someone else’s dreams and life and spent it to live my own.
To live my life with intention, to enjoy the small moments, to build my own habits according to my timing, to be closer to my friends and family, to get to know myself and do the activities I enjoy the most.
First of all, I unfollowed all the accounts from which I couldn’t learn anything and were promoting unhealthy values.
What we need to understand is that social media should be used as a space to get inspiration from, to help us become a better version of ourselves, not the person on the screen.
And use it less, to have time to work on our own dreams.
Now, if I see a person who is really fit, I will not wish their body anymore, nor will I think bad about myself because sometimes I have days when I eat more than usual and my weight oscillates and I didn’t get that 6 pack I dreamt about. But, I will admire their efforts to be consistent with their food choices and their trainings and I would try to apply the same. I discovered exercising is more of a therapy for me and the only thing I want is to become stronger. Along the journey, for sure I will also enjoy the aesthetic benefits. And I will save their workouts so I can try them at gym or at home to push my limits. But, I won’t feel demoralized anymore because I have cellulite as I learned to accept my body and the fact that everyBODY is different. What matters for me is to be healthier and stronger.
If I will find a successful blogger/influencer I will not wish their position anymore, but I will try to learn from their experiences. I will try to find out the books they read, what they have tried and failed and why they failed. And be inspired by their courage to always speak their mind, be authentic and take the time to learn new skills.
If I will see other women with flawless skin and perfect hair or make-up, I will not be envious or feel down because I don’t have the same face characteristics or red-carpet look. Instead I will take the inspiration to ensure I invest more time to take care of my skin, to have my own beauty routine and experimenting to find products suitable for me and my body. And I will try new make up techniques to find something appropriate for my crazy schedule and my own beliefs (I am more for a natural makeup).
Whenever seeing people posting pictures from their travel experiences, I won’t feel down because I don’t have the possibility to do the same, but I will try to find out as much as possible of how everything went, if they have any tips of periods to travel, what to avoid doing in that city, how to behave with the locals. I love traveling, but I am not always keen to see the main attractions, I just want to get lost on narrow streets and taste more of the culture of a place. And I discovered now people who will also explain and show the hard work behind a picture, how much time it took, the editing process and even the failures.
It is our choice on how to feed our mind. You and your life are enough. Learn and enjoy your moments, even if you don’t post them on social media.
You are real. Go and experience the world. Your world, the way you created it, considering your personality and the things you love doing. Stop comparing yourself to the world’s highlight reels.