We are a culture of people that like to impress. We typically like to portray our best selves to the world. This is probably why most of us don’t wake up from a nap with blanket wrinkles imprinted into our foreheads and eyes half closed from being crusted together and think, “Selfie time!” We don’t post a picture of the pizza that we tried to make that fell through the oven rack while cooking only to burn to a crisp on the oven bottom. Similarly we don’t race to get the camera when we receive a failing grade on the biology test that we spent days studying for. These things happen regularly, yet the selves that we portray to the world, at school, at work, and most insidiously, on the internet, never display any of them.
Instead, the prominent message that most people tend to portray is that their life is absolutely gorgeous. Pimples? What pimples? Not since valancia filters made their way onto the scene. Money problems? Absolutely not! Didn’t you see my new designer bag that the best boyfriend ever got me? (#blessed #spoiled) Mood issues? How could I be sad when I get to spend so much time with my perfectly painted toenails lounging poolside?
The problem with this portrayal is that we tend to end up in engaging in an invisible race with people that we don’t really know to lead magical lives that we all know are not actually real. Rarely do we stop to remind ourselves that the people that we deem as “perfect” have decidedly imperfect moments that they do not choose to post online. They are showing you what they want you to see, in the same way you are showing others what you want them to see.
The phrase, “We compare our behind the scenes reel to everyone else’s highlight reel” is extremely relevant when it comes to social media. Another problematic twist- we tend to hop onto social media when we are feeling two things: bored or lonely. Both of these are emotions that leave us feeling particularly vulnerable to comparison and self-doubt.
When we compare ourselves to others, we inevitably begin to feel as though our own lives aren’t enough. Gratitude takes a backseat to envy, which only leads to feeling unhappy and empty. This can be detrimental to eating disorder recovery, because it can fuel feelings of hopelessness, which can drive people to fall back into disordered behaviors. Hence it is important to remember that: a. people post what they want you to see, and b. someone else’s success does not take away from yours.
So repeat after me:
• I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet.
• I will not compare myself to my friends or coworkers in real life.
• I will not compare myself period.
• I am my own person and can celebrate the successes of others while also continuing to work on myself.
• I am human
• They are human.
• We are all human. It’s not a race it’s a journey.