Comparing ourselves to others feels terrible.
It can make us feel not pretty enough, not accomplished enough, not happy enough or free-spirited enough or…you get the idea. There’s a reason that jealousy (a byproduct of comparison) is called the green eyed monster: because it feels monstrous when we compare.
Yet, we do it.
Many of us do it on a regular basis: all it takes is picking up your phone and scrolling the good old Facebook feed to see that you’re not doing it right…I mean look at how much fun your friends are having, right? They look so happy, well-traveled, and smiling!
Here’s the thing though, the thing that I have to remind myself of on a regular basis:
We can’t compare our “insides” to other people’s “outsides.”
Mostly because we really don’t know what’s going on in the lives of anyone else: the only perspective we know for sure is our own. I know that when I upload pictures of a vacation or hike, they might make me look “outdoorsy” or “active” or “happy.” I’m smiling, the scenery is beautiful, and all signs point to “life is good!” But while pictures might be worth a thousand words, they don’t necessarily tell the whole story.
For example, my recent vacation (while a lot of fun) was also laden with anxiety and stress. For every picture I posted of a beautiful coastline or ancient castle there was another (mental) picture I didn’t post: my terrifying anxiety of driving in a foreign country, stress brought on by things not going as planned, endless indigestion from eating out-of-the-ordinary foods (am I right??)
We don’t often share those moments with the masses because we don’t (usually) want to remember them. Their digital absence, however, contributes to the myths that we have about each other: that other people’s lives are somehow more exciting, more fulfilling, or just downright more attractive. (Let us not forget the power of flattering angles and an Instagram filter.)
Comparing the way that we feel to the way that other people look is a sure ticket to Shameville, and I’ve been there enough times to know that it’s not the most fun-filled place (unless your favorite Instagram filter involves unwashed hair and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.) So the next time you’re scrolling social media and find your sense of self-worth feeling wobbly, take a step back. Remind yourself that the way other people appear is exactly that: appearance. The digital world is a place of constructs and smiles and cherry picked moments…those pictures tell a story, but it’s someone else’s, and it’s not the whole shebang.
The whole shebang probably involved indigestion anyway, right?