My head has been aching recently. Physically and metaphorically. The weight of being a millennial with an iPhone has been growing heavier, powered by stress and being generally unwell over the last few months. First world problems, right?
Right. Exactly. Problems born from the world we have created for ourselves via our social media pages and what they are filled with, from across the world, by people we often don’t know.
But our phones certainly know us.
For example, mine knows I like to go to the gym (three times a week if I’m lucky with my work schedule). Hence, Instagram knows I like to go to the gym. HENCE, my discovery page is filled with bronzed, edited, beautifully muscular, lean women working out or posing with no sweat on their foreheads, no stretch marks, no veins, even. NOTHING.
Why do I look? Because social media is addictive. It becomes an obsession when you have insecurities. Yes, it is a great way of saving memories, sharing with friends, getting inspiration, admiring the world, keeping in-the-know, etc. But for those, like me, who have days where we struggle with self-love, it can be painful.
My rational mind tells me: Beth, you work full-time; you have so many other responsibilities; you need to get out and socialise in your free time; these photographs are airbrushed; these women get paid to look like this; these people are posing with the best lighting and best clothing and best angles; they wouldn’t have a job if they didn’t look like this; don’t compare yourself.
But on days when I don’t have the energy to keep my mind wholly positive, my mind says: Beth, stop eating carbs; work harder in the gym; if you were that bothered you’d make more time to go; your PT boyfriend deserves someone in amazing shape; all your hard work will never pay off.
I am lucky, in a way, that my rational thoughts overpower my irrational thoughts, and the days I feel good about myself often outweigh the ones I don’t. So, when I think of all the people whose negative thoughts take over, and who never feel positive about themselves, I feel truly devastated that it can be because of the things we have a choice to look at, or not look at – though sometimes, it really feels as if we don’t.
So my advice, which I am trying my best to listen to at the moment, is “mind your own”. Mind your own body, mind your own health (which is so, so, so much important than how you look), mind your own friends on social media, mind your own mind. When you find yourself in the depths of despair that you don’t have that body; don’t have that outfit; don’t have that car – mind your own.
It’s too easy to forget the things we ourselves are capable of, if we take our eye off of our phones and look ahead towards our goals. It’s also too easy to forget to appreciate all of the things we have in life. And it’s especially easy to forget how many people look at your pages on social media, at your smiling face, you with your friends, you on holiday, you having fun, and wish they had your life – just as you do with other people. Everyone has their own issues and woes behind closed doors. We only ever show the best of ourselves. And we should try harder to support, not compare or judge.
It’s so hard to do, and it takes practice, but seeing the good in yourself and viewing yourself the way others view you is so crucial in looking after your mind. Don’t let organised pixels on a screen dictate the way you feel about yourself.
Life is simply too short.