By Samuel Tyler
The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor.
And it can never be used to hurt you.”
– Tyrion Lannister
Recently a new term called “Instagram Envy” has surfaced. Instagram promotes a user’s ability to be creative and to make green monsters out of all their friends. When you look at other people’s photos, you’re looking at glimpses into their lives. You’ll see graduation photos, getaway vacations, engagements, pregnancy announcements, you name it. Seeing these moments can force us into a state of “Comparisonitis.” Or the act of unfairly comparing your faults and disappointments to someone else’s accomplishments and opportunities. It also doesn’t help that these photos can also be digitally altered on the fly to look even more vibrant than they are. This causes us to exaggerate our own failures and fantasize the lives of others.
(By the way, here’s a shameless plug for my Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/styler1775/ )
Observe my creative photo angle of the wine rack! Doesn’t it show my creativity?
Notice how I’m not so subtly baiting for your approval? This photo might make me look like a connoisseur of fine wine, but allow me to reveal to you that I know absolutely zilch when it comes to wine. To be honest, I’m not even that big a fan of wine. Sure, I’ll drink it if you offer it to me, but if you start asking me my professional opinion, I’m just going to respond. “Yep… It’s fruity!”
Now did I post that photo to give you the impression that I’m living the fancy life? Nope. I just thought it looked neat. I didn’t care what people were going to think. I said, “This might make for a good picture,” so I took it, regardless of how many people I thought were going to see it and like it. I want you to take note of this mindset because we’ll be exploring it later.
It’s likely everyone has experienced this form of envy one time or another, and I just want you to know, that’s ok. It can be very demoralizing to be sitting at home during Halloween looking at all the happy couples on Facebook who have synchronized costumes while you’re sitting in your room re-watching Stranger Things season 2 for the third time. Not only that but when you see someone else having a great time with life while you’re barely getting by it only builds into your need for conformity and approval from others. Which leads nicely into my next topic…
The problem is centering your happiness on external forces rather taking agenda over your own attitude.
Take Marty Mcfly from Back to the Future. A lot of his fears are centered around whether or not his musical talent will be accepted.
I mean, I just don’t know if I can take that kind of rejection.” – Marty
Social Media Woes
If you do post something, post it because it matters to you. Do it because you want to savor the memory, not to see how people will react or to get back at an ex. On top of that, don’t post anything that doesn’t build into the narrative of your life. I.e. Don’t post something just for the sake of posting. Treat Instagram like a scrapbook or a photography club. Treat Facebook like your personal storybook. If you do something with authenticity, it will show and people will gravitate toward you.
On the topic of needy people: Insecurities can be revealed by seeking constant approval from relationships. This is what is known as “needy” behavior. It all comes from a place of fear. Their relationship is a source of happiness and losing that joy would be detrimental to their self-worth so it must be maintained at all costs, even if they don’t realize that the constant maintenance will be more likely to drive people away. Think of it like watering a plant. You don’t want to die from dehydration, but you also don’t want to drown it. Your life has to have more in it than just keeping your plant alive.
Another thing I’d like to recommend for more personal instances: Sometimes we get rejected by people we care deeply for. Seeing their selfies and perpetual joy on social media drives us crazy. Looking at it is like hearing that person say “I was so bored before, but guess how much fun I’m having now without you!” You need to stop doing that to yourself. The only cure for unrequited love is distance plus time. Facebook has a way for you to unfollow people without letting everyone know if you would like to avoid any drama. However, if it hurts to look at someone on social media you need to break it off because it literally causes you emotional harm and you need time away to reflect and heal. I also wouldn’t recommend being like Adele and writing your pain into a song for all to hear. (Because again, that’s seeking external validation.)
Aziz Ansari on Ghosting
(EXPLICIT: Some cursing present. Viewer’s discretion is advised.)
What Can You Do?
On top of that, you need to also accept your successes. That sounds obvious but think about it. How many times do you stop and think about the great things you’ve done? Probably less than you should. It’s easier to be negative, that’s why we need to be mindful and remember to take the good with the bad. It doesn’t matter how small the accomplishment.
Make a note, write down every day something your proud to have done. Take that time to reflect. Don’t bottle up any emotions either. You need to express them in a healthy way through some form of expression. I have found writing it down to be quite effective. Most of all, don’t ask people to tell you what they think are your best qualities, it needs to come from YOU.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Mistakes get made. Don’t beat yourself up over it. People tend to be more worried about themselves than what you do anyways.
Sometimes you run into someone in a bad mood. Sometimes people are jerks. That’s no reason for you to lose your cool. Brush it off. Let it roll off your back. It’s not passive behavior to turn the other cheek. It’s actively making a choice not to allow someone else to control how you feel. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone except yourself.
Pain is inevitable, suffering is self-inflicted. You’re going to get hurt. You’re gonna feel down occasionally. When it happens, write it down, or just take note of your emotions and thoughts as they happen. Take a moment and say “I feel this emotion,” and then “Why do I feel that way?” You will need time to reflect.
Having self-respect or confidence is not just something you’re born with. It comes from experience and being willing to be vulnerable. It is being uncomfortable and ultimately surviving the discomfort that builds confidence.
Now, I am not a doctor. What I’m suggesting comes from my own experiences. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking counseling or professional help, and if you feel as though your life is somehow deficient in some way, I would suggest you do so. Even just asking for help from a loved one is a good idea. But please, whatever you do, don’t be silent.
Remember that having self-validation is not necessarily the end-all-be-all of life. As I said before, human beings are social creatures, and it is in our communities that we find our place in life. No man or woman should stand alone. You should seek the advice of your elders and people you trust. If you’re a Christian, you should seek guidance in your faith and your religious leaders. Praying is an effective form of reflection that allows you to take a moment to calm your mind and rejuvenate.
When you’re so secure in yourself and there’s nothing inside that can hurt you, then nothing outside can hurt you either.
Back to the Future gif above is the creative property of Universal Pictures
Back to the Future gif above is the creative property of Universal Pictures