In the age of social media, it can be difficult to refrain from drawing comparisons between yourself and other people. When you go online, you’re constantly exposed to the filtered and flawlessly edited lives of the people you follow. People who are usually around your age, who seem to have things so much more put together than you do. It’s hard to look at the carefully curated lives of people on social media and not feel a little bit (or a lot) defeated.
Over the years, I’ve had a very strange relationship with social media. Right before I started blogging, I wasn’t active on them at all. I had personal Instagram and Twitter accounts set up at one point, but they had long been abandoned and deleted. I had never really given into the hype of social media and honestly saw them as more of a nuisance than a fun way to connect with other people. In fact, if I hadn’t decided to start up Currently, Lately last August, then I probably wouldn’t be on social media today.
The only reason I became interested in joining platforms like Instagram and Pinterest was to link up with other bloggers. I realized how fun and exciting it was to partake in social media. I loved how it allowed me to look into the day-to-day lives other bloggers and really get to know the people behind the blogs. And I still think this is one of the amazing and, quite frankly, addictive aspects of social media. We’ve all had those days when we head to Twitter for what is supposed to be a short ten-minute break, but end up scrolling through our feeds for the next hour.
And while connecting with other people and sharing tidbits of our lives can be great, it can also stir up some unhealthy thoughts. Social media have many good qualities, but one of their worst is that they have made it absurdly easy to compare yourself to others. It only takes a handful of clicks to be on somebody’s Instagram profile, seeing the lavish vacations that they’re on or the milestones that they’ve achieved, and then returning to your own profile to find faults in everything.
I think that these unhealthy comparisons are especially easy to make in the blogosphere. There are so many bloggers out there producing quality content and sharing gorgeous photos that it can be a bit demoralizing. I know for me it’s not about being jealous or feeling threatened by another person’s success. It’s about looking at my own and wondering if I’ll ever reach that same place.
In my my first couple months of blogging, it seemed like all I did was compare my content to other bloggers’. I constantly scrutinized my own posts and photos and never thought that they were good enough. But as time has gone on, I’ve sort of shed that negative mindset. I realized something really important about making comparisons and it has helped me move away from them.
Whenever I get caught up in someone else’s success, I try to remember that the person who I’m comparing myself to is probably comparing themselves to another person, who is probably comparing themselves to another person. The tendency to compare yourself to other people is a vicious cycle that we all experience. Having a certain level of success doesn’t make a person immune to it. It’s important to keep in mind that even if you match another individual’s success, the instinct to compare yourself to them won’t suddenly stop. There’s always going to be a new person to judge yourself and your work against. It doesn’t matter how much you achieve.
I think that the smartest thing to do when you’re faced with comparison and self-doubt is to recall the fact that we all encounter the same sort of feelings at some point. Criticizing yourself for not being exactly like someone else won’t inspire or motivate you. It will only make it harder for you to get where you want to go. Allowing your mind to flood with questions like “why are my posts not as creative as theirs?” or “why aren’t my numbers going up as quickly as theirs did?” will only cast a negative shadow over everything you do going forward. You’ll never be happy with what you accomplish because your end goal isn’t feasible. You can’t be exactly like the people who you compare yourself to.
Another thing that I believe is important to remember is that there’s a big difference between being motivated by something and being stressed by something. If looking at another person’s social media makes you feel poorly about your own, it isn’t going to help you in any way, shape, or form. When you’re using a social media site, it’s very crucial to realize when you’re on it for the wrong reasons. If you’re scrolling through Twitter or Instagram and questioning everything about yourself, you should know that it’s time to log off. I’ve definitely noticed that I’m at my least creative and productive when I’m worried about other people rather than myself. That’s when I know to turn off my phone and focus my attention elsewhere.
When it comes down to it, the only way to break the comparison cycle is to see it for what it is: a roadblock in your way to success. Although I don’t think it’s possible to rid yourself entirely of negative thoughts, it’s important to try and push them aside when you realize they’ve entered your head. No one’s life is as picture perfect as it may seem on Pinterest or Instagram. Everyone goes through their own struggles and setbacks, and comparing your worst to someone else’s best won’t help you get through yours. Shedding away the tendency to constantly compare myself to those around me has made me much happier with the work that I do.
Do you struggle with comparing yourself to other people on social media?