So, it’s time for a heavy Monday post.
Rather than becoming self-explanatory, it seems to me like the subject of this post is one that is only becoming more pertinent to us all as time goes by, and our world is increasingly digitised. So buckle in, I’m about to get kinda deep here.
It seems sometimes that the universe (read: social media) is full of information on what we should and shouldn’t be doing: personally and professionally, physically and mentally… There’s a never-ending list of how we should be, and therefore ways in which we fall short, or don’t conform, or aren’t good enough. Maybe that’s a little cynical, but it seems to me that a lot of social media is about creating an image of yourself that may or may not be true to real life. And unfortunately for all of us, there inevitably exists the temptation to believe that what we’re seeing is factual. Consequently, it becomes almost irresistible to compare ourselves and our lives to these ephemeral and indefinable standards purported by the wide-ranging world of the internet.
Sometime in the last twelve months, I started making a few decisions about my consumption of social media. Now, this isn’t one of those ‘I quit Facebook’ (or Instagram or Twitter) posts—I’ll happily admit that I really really love hilarious cat videos, and those clips where someone has done a voiceover of their dog, so it seems like they’re talking to you—although, like most people, I should probably try and spend a bit less time on it. What it is though, is a post talking about deciding what is important to me, and what I find acceptable to have myself exposed to on a daily basis.
A good example is that I went through a couple of years in primary school with a girl who is now an international model. [You may have noticed… I’m not an international model. In fact, I foolishly had an interview at a modelling agency in my teens (what? I have an interesting face) and got told that I’d need to drop a couple of sizes: so I was too fat, in other words.] Now, for a long time, I followed her on social media. It wasn’t, and still isn’t, uncommon to find photos of her in various states of undress and she has both a beautiful face and an incredible figure.
But I reached a point where I decided to unfollow her, and I haven’t regretted it once. Why?
Because when looking at those photos, it is so easy to fall into that age-old trap: to think that maybe I’m not good enough. It’s easy to forget who I am as a person and believe that x, y and z that she possesses (or anyone else in the cyber world) are more important than my own qualities. And for what? I wasn’t benefiting at all from her photos or her posts; I wasn’t learning or discovering anything; we had no meaningful connection personally; and every time a photo popped up, I couldn’t hold back a moment of jealousy, or uncertainty, or insecurity.
News flash: that’s a shit feeling.
Why would I continue that? Regardless of how it sounds to anyone else, at the end of the day, I choose me. I don’t want to be anyone else. I like the way I laugh, I like the way I handle problems, I like the way I write. I don’t always like the way my nose looks in photos, but I’m not going to spend hours finding the right angle. I don’t always like how I get frustrated with injury and other challenges, but I’m not going to pretend that never happens. I’m imperfect and I would rather embrace that and find things to love about who and how I am, than spend my time yearning to be something else. It’s impossible and it’s pointless… and more than that, it’s tragic. If you spend all your time wanting to be something or someone you’re not, then you’re wasting the brilliance of your own uniqueness.
I have no desire to be valued for my body. It does some awesome stuff for me: it swims like a fish, it can climb over rocks, learn to slackline and take up archery. It is damn strong, and I love how powerful and confident that makes me feel. And don’t get me wrong, it does some shitty stuff too. I’ve had a back injury for quite a while now, and while it’s improved, it’s not 100% yet (still working on it though!). But this body is mine. It is entirely unique, and I honestly cant imagine wanting to trade it, or any other part of me, for anything of anyone else’s.
Where am I going with this?
I figured out that having those images, and that message, in my social media feed and in my life, wasn’t helping me. It wasn’t working for me, and I don’t want to have to constantly battle against the feelings that those kinds of posts engender in me. Social media is a construction, not a truth. It’s a representation of how someone wants to be perceived: a person can choose to tell the world whatever they want about themselves, and as a consumer, we have no real way of knowing whether or not it’s the truth. Comparing that version of the truth to yourself is a recipe for disaster. This crazy life will find many other ways to challenge you and force you to fight back, I can promise you that, and I don’t want to have to do extra work in my social media feed because I refuse to cull things that aren’t empowering me.
Regardless of whether it’s professional or personal, think about what effect your social media feed has on you, your emotions and your life. If it’s not positive… piss it off. You deserve better than that.
[Image credit to Pinterest, and to ‘Do You Yoga’ (and their article 15 Quotes to Inspire Self-Love)]