Let’s get straight to the point here: My best friends moved overseas a few weeks ago and I am NOT okay.
Let me explain.
In the last few months, our group chat has essentially been planning to ‘wanderlust our way through our mid-20s in one of the most beautiful places in the world.’
I thought it was a phase, much like a lot of things we decide to do as a collective group turns out to be, and I didn’t pay attention to it. After all, I had bigger fish to fry, like staying in one place and one headspace for longer than a month. It’s been a year of self-development and self-reliance for me, and I knew deep down if they were going to go travel and experience new things together, I wasn’t going to join them.
To put it nicely, the current stages of our lives before this departure was me on a one-way dirt road in a beat-up truck and them on a highway in a convertible with matching red cowboy hats singing Shania Twain alongside Brittney Spears — different places in our lives, one could say.
The planning increased, the excitement commenced, and as they began booking their tickets, I started to feel indifferent. I felt sad that I’d miss out on the adventure, but I knew where I needed to be instead. Where I wanted to be instead. And that was in my new rental with my dog, my partner, and a good cup of tea at 9 p.m. before bed. It’s important to note that I’ve spent a lot of time in the last 10 years doing my own self-discovery and travel, and for the first time, the thought of doing some more felt wrong.
So fast forward to three weeks ago when they got on a plane and left me. I felt sad. I felt happy (kind of).
But mostly, I felt a strong punch in my gut when I thought about all the goddamn social media posts I’d have to see of my three best friends frolicking in Wanaka, New Zealand when I was going to be at home frolicking with gas bills.
And just as I suspected, the photos and insta stories rolled on in. Bitches.
Here’s what’s funny — I thought that getting a Sanskrit tattoo on my neck circa 2015 that roughly translates to ”pure joy and happiness for others without resentment” would automatically make me find pure joy and happiness for others. But plot twist, it hasn’t, and yes, I’m still horrible.
I think it’s easy to say you’re happy for someone — it’s easy like a photo or comment ‘babes’ and move on. But it’s WAY harder to admit you’re jealous, bitter, or spending way too much time comparing yourself to other people. Even your loved ones.
However, the great news no one ever tells you about admitting hard truths is that once you admit it, you can evolve. Wow. Genius. Who’d have thought?
My best friends are without a doubt the greatest joy in my life, no question about it. I want to see them thrive in every aspect of the word. But seeing them post videos and photos of their travels when I’m trying to live out my truth that is currently the complete opposite and less glamourise to theirs?
LAME. HARD. SHIT. NOT A GOOD TIME.
So why is this?
Well firstly, before I go any further, I need to tell you that I didn’t unfollow them on social media, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it.
Social media is a beast. It is a big, giant beast that can connect people or completely ruin people, and sometimes it can be a mixture of the two.
Think about this for a second.
When you’ve been sad or insecure, did you post on Instagram for validation?
When you’ve been extremely giddy, happy, or excited, did you post on Instagram for validation?
Now think about when you’ve been content, riding the wave of life and just trying to live a truly authentic life. Did you post on Instagram for validation?
For me, when I am living my most authentic life with gratitude and contentment, it is usually at 11:30 pm and I’m in bed, listening to cars drive past, hearing the wheels hit the gravel. I become overwhelmed with love and lust for my simple life. That is truly when I am most at peace with myself. But do I get out my phone, snap a photo in the dark, and put it on socials? Absolutely not. Why?
Well firstly, it’s not to say it’s wrong to post when you’re sad, when you’re happy, or when you’re having a rad AF time traveling. I’m just saying that the highlights of your life are what compels you to post on social media. Or at least for me, anyway. Which is fine, but it means that your actual day-to-day life is nonexistent online, which in turn can look like your highlights are your whole life — a super unhealthy outlook for all involved.
Being on the receiving end of social media highlight reels can be extremely detrimental to your self-worth, and to explain how I’ve been feeling the last few weeks, I’ve created this EXCELLENT analogy.
You’re at the beach, right? You’re between the flags, but waaaaaay in the back where the waves haven’t crashed yet, and you can hear distant noises like kids laughing, and It’s beautiful and calming. You’re just floating through the ripples, sun on your face, happy where you are. Suddenly you see a group of people on a speed boat with two people tubing in the back, laughing and screaming. Fifteen people are dancing on the deck with coronas in their hands, and as they steer past you, they create waves so big you swallow some water and you sink under for a little bit.
Now we all know that swallowing salt water isn’t the end of the world, but it stings for a little bit thereafter.
THAT’S how social media works… kinda.
In other words, I’m now on the receiving end of the major highs of other people’s lives. And it’s not until you’re on the receiving end that you can self-reflect, that you can evaluate, that you can understand clearly how social media can and may affect you and those around you.
And yes, before you ask, I have been guilty of steering the speed boat in the past. And yes, it’s fun and carefree, but now that I’m the floating swimmer, I have a different set of eyes, and the last thing I need or want is saltwater from speed boats clouding my view.
So what do I do if I am the floater or the speed boat, depending on what day it is and what part of my life I’m in?
I listen to myself. I listen to my thoughts. I listen to my insecurities. And I change what I can change. And I see what I want to see. And I admit what I need to in order to grow.
Here’s the inspiration part. The part that I hope helps you, as it did me.
If you feel horrible scrolling through social media, take a break. You’re not a shit person if you feel shit scrolling past posts on Instagram.
This is not reality, and I can assure you that if I saw my best friends at Mount Aspiring National Park looking like angels in crystal blue waters as they proclaimed, ”It’s going to be hard to top this day,” I would not be cursing their names. I’d be filled with happiness for them.
But the things that you see online are not real life. It’s a snippet, a moment in time for someone else to witness, decipher, romanticize, compare, like, comment, subscribe.
And it’s not always going to affect you, but sometimes it will.
That’s okay. It is human nature to compare yourself, and it is the human condition to feel deeply. But if you have to choose one, I urge you to choose to feel. And feel with intent.
Feeling shit and not in the mood to immediately compare yourself to others based on what they post? Unfollow.
Feeling a bit insecure and not eager to compare your stomach muscles to @emrata? I get it. Unfollow.
Perhaps you can smell the air after summer rain instead of scrolling past someone else smelling a rose in fashion nova clothes. Maybe you can text someone you have a deep connection with and tell them you’re thinking of them. If that fails, sex with your partner or someone that makes you feel good never fails.
On a serious note, whoever is reading this and is relating to what I’m saying, please know you’re not alone and you’re not a monster for the comparisons, the punch in the stomach feeling, or the hint of bitterness on your tongue when you open those pesky apps to connect with the rest of the world.
It’s okay, you will resurface from the bottom eventually. Keep riding all the waves all of the time.
P.S. Life is almost always better if you look up from your phone.