“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it, it just blooms.” - Zen Shin
Today, it's easier than ever to compare ourselves to others. Just log onto your social media account and boom! You have instant access into the lives of people you know and people you do not even know. You can see what they look like, what they have, where they go, what they do, and who they do it with. In a matter of seconds, we think we have someone else all figured out while slowly tearing ourselves apart.
With today's instant access and the volume of images we see daily, it's too easy to jump to conclusions about others and simultaneously feel worse about ourselves for not measuring up. This can create an increase of unnecessary stress in our lives. From low self-esteem and self-worth to anxiety, depression, and poor body image issues, comparing ourselves to others can lead to a poor sense of self and create a decline in our mental and emotional health.
Here are a few things to consider when scrolling through social media:
1. A picture says a thousand words. But it is that 1,001st word that is left out that tells the true story. It is impossible to know everything about someone with a simple snapshot. Sure, you can derive a lot of information from a picture, but unless you were there or unless this person has shared directly with you, you only know part of the story. You don't know what it's taken for them to reach this moment in their lives. Be happy for them.
2. Just because you weren't invited doesn't mean you aren't valued. People can be spontaneous. People sometimes want to bond with certain people alone or without you so that they can give that person their undivided attention. I, for one, prefer quality over quantity in my interactions. I would much rather spend time with either one or a few select people at a time so that I can give them my full attention. I value my friendships. So, it is important to me that my friends feel heard, understood, and feel better after a visit with me.
3. Just because another person is attractive doesn't mean you're not. We are so quick to judge people by how they look and to create stories about them as a result. We can get jealous or envious of those who have beautiful features, better physiques, or who show more skin than we do. While you might think they're just showing off, maybe they're working on their self-esteem and body confidence. It's quite common for beautiful people to struggle with these issues, too. Let's face it. We don't know everyone’s backstory. That model you hate could have grown up being bullied over her weight issues, pimples, or other undesirable trait but later developed into a beautiful swan. Guess what? These kinds of people can still see themselves as ugly ducklings. No matter what anyone says, they can still struggle internally from time to time. Taking selfies is a great practice to boost one's self-esteem and confidence. And, we all deserve to feel good about ourselves.
4. People are facing challenges and battles you know nothing about. People cope with their problems in different ways. Some people retreat to remain private while others share publicly. There are no right or wrong ways to process our pain, hardship, or struggles. Some people are suffering enough. Allow them to be themselves without the added fear of your opinions or judgement. Let them be.
5. It's not always about you. People are entitled to live their lives as they see fit. Just like you, people are just doing their best to be happy. Happiness takes work. Every post you see can simply be an expression of someone trying to make the best of it. Let others be themselves, be proud of themselves, and be proud of their accomplishments. And, you do you, boo.
Remember, it's OK to compare yourself to others if their appearance or achievements inspire or motivate you to make positive changes. It's healthy to learn from others. Their success demonstrates what's possible. They simply proved it can be done. Use their story to empower you to pursue your goals and make your dreams come true. If it's possible for them, it's possible for you, too.
Social media is unhealthy for you if you notice a decline in your self-esteem or confidence. If your mood changes for the worse after viewing certain images, either unfollow those accounts or walk away from social media altogether. Prioritize your mental and emotional health. Feeling bad about yourself does not make you a loser. It just means you need to invest more time and effort in learning how to love yourself, believe in yourself, treat yourself with kindness and compassion, and see the value of being yourself.
The sun shines for us all. We are all unique flowers in the garden of life. And, we are all meant to blossom.