You probably think you’re the exception. That you’re the only imperfect one. Because when you open up your phone or fire on your laptop, when you log onto Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, you’re bombarded with a cacophony of images and words and stories, probably from everyone you’ve ever had some sort of contact or relationship with.
Old friends that you haven’t spoken to in years clad in bikinis, all tanned legs and toned stomachs, as they pose in front of an unnaturally blue ocean. Acquaintances from your high school days showing off sparking engagement rings, pronouncing the excitement they can’t seem to contain about marrying their “best friend.” A million life updates, mostly from people you don’t speak to on a daily basis, if at all.
People traveling around the world, departures from distant airports, graduations, new haircuts, freshly done manicures, date nights, half empty glasses of wine displayed like trophies of a life well-lived. The list can go on, a plethora of ways for others to show you how great a time they’re having without having to openly brag or seem genuinely smug.
It’s easy to view everything you see on social media, day after day, and become preoccupied by it all. Obsessed even. To become more than a bit nervous about the progression of your own life. If everyone else is reaching these milestones of new jobs and weddings, babies and the buying of new houses, surely you must be doing something wrong.
You must not be doing it right, this whole “life as an adult” thing. Everyone else seems to be propelling forward, sailing by on the path that society tells us that we should be following. The one that tells us each significant life event must be reached by a certain age, and if you can’t manage to get there in time you might as well count yourself out of the “well-adjusted humans club”.
Social media does nothing to discourage this fallacy; if anything, it catapults it forward, helping it gain momentum. We’re forced to compare ourselves, wondering if we’re the only ones whose lives are so uneventful and boring, so unfulfilled.
But the truth is that nearly all of what you see on social media is a lie. All of those filtered photos and well thought out status updates, it never gives you the whole pictures of a person.
You won’t ever catch a glimpse into the tears and disappointments, the missteps and periods of trial and error. You’ll never be shown the heartbreak or frustration, the fights or the do-overs.
Because those things don’t make people feel better about themselves, do they? No one wants to be seen at their worst, when they’re vulnerable and scared, feeling small and helpless. People rarely voice their mistakes or misgivings, at least not on social media.
We’ve been taught to believe that, in the eyes of others, we need to remain prefect, the model example of the millennial age. The one that consists of constant life updates to prove that we exist, that we’re real and that we matter.
Be bigger than all of that.
Realize that you are tangible and valid, no matter the amount of “likes” that selfie you just posted gets. Remember that the quality of your worth isn’t measured by how many followers you have or by how many people publicly wish you well on your birthday.
Realize that while social media is its own strange microcosm, it is by no means real life. It is nothing more than the clacking of fingers against a keyboard, and in reality, life is made up of so much more than a 140 character limit.
You are so much more complex, so much more valuable than any social media platform could ever make you out to be. Life, and success, is what happens as you live it. Out in the world each day where you will learn to define your own success based upon your own set of guidelines.
So even though social media may be making you panic right now, I promise that you’re exactly where you need to be.
And one day you’ll get to the place where you were always meant to arrive.