I Just Don’t Measure Up
by Teresia Smith
Do you ever compare yourself to others and feel like you don’t quite measure up? Maybe you feel you’re not as pretty. Or maybe they look more fun to hang out with and always seem to be posting exciting things they are doing with friends. Or perhaps they post their home expertly decorated and always clean and tidy. Maybe their kids seem flawless, and they appear to be a perfect parent. It seems they always have it together.
Social media can easily feed into our insecurities and plunge our self-esteem lower. How many times have you posted something online and gone back to see how many likes or comments you received? Do we view it as a type of popularity contest? Do we value a person’s like on our post more than our own insights? It’s easy to think if we had more of this or that, we’d feel more secure. But honestly, those we perceive “have it all” still struggle with insecurity and question themselves. Comparing yourself to others is always a losing battle.
If you have been victimized through sexual assault or domestic violence, you already live with emotional challenges. Overcoming such trauma takes a lot of effort and time. You may struggle to handle everyday activities and experience low self-esteem. As you heal from the trauma, hopefully you are regaining your confidence and starting to feel good again about your inner strengths and talents. After experiencing a trauma, it’s normal to withdraw, and social media can become addictive and can lead you to replace your face-to-face relationships with keyboard ones. However, Psychology Today reports, “Research conducted for a 2017 Huffpost article showed that “60 percent of people using social media reported that it has impacted their self-esteem in a negative way; 50 percent reported social media having negative effects on their relationships; 80 percent reported that is easier to be deceived by others through their sharing on social media.” Apps like Instagram and Snapchat function by showing only the most superficial aspects of people.”
Have you realized people only post photos that show them in a positive manner? Rarely do you see sinks of dirty dishes, piles of dirty laundry, rumpled hair, no make-up or just sitting home doing nothing. Instead, they post filtered pictures of themselves, with a group of friends doing something fun, or photo-staged homes that may only include one corner of a room. These posts show a fake, flawless version and allow people to control what they present about their lives to others.
A teen girl recently said: “No one ever posts pictures of their face mid break-out or of their bombed test grade. As a result, the observer is led to a series of conclusions: 1) look at how great so and so’s life is; 2) I wish mine was more like theirs; 3) I suck.”
What can we do to remind ourselves that we don’t “suck” and most of what we see on social media is fake and constructed? First, remind yourself that people only post what they want you to see; it isn’t the whole story, so stop thinking their life is better than yours. Consider what you post. Social media isn’t a good place to air dirty laundry or share you deepest feelings. Social media cannot take the place of a true friendship, to share your hurts and disappointments with someone who cares and will be there to support you. Stop thinking of likes, comments or number of followers as measures of value. Counting how many people click on your post tells you nothing about your value as a person. Limit how much time you spend on social media. If you are constantly on social media sites, you are not participating in your own life but are spending time looking at how other people are focused on theirs.
Secondly, don’t sell yourself short. Look back a month, a year or even 5 years ago, and remind yourself of ways you are managing life and succeeding. Track your progress. Be compassionate and patient with yourself. If you find yourself slipping back into old thoughts, it doesn’t mean you should give up. Instead, that’s the time to remind yourself of all you have accomplished. Often we feel like hiding ourselves due to fear, but most of the time, that fear is based on what we perceive others think of us. Instead, we should be proud of ourselves.
Thirdly, invest in real relationships. Do you have friends you like to be around and interests you enjoy? Those will further healthy self-esteem and enhance your life. Make an effort to engage with friends. Work to grow your friendships so you have the support you need.
Crisis Services of North Alabama offers free, confidential services to survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence. We provide a safe place to unpack those hard feelings that linger after experiencing trauma and we offer support as you rebuild your life. You may reach our Jackson County office at 256.574.5826 or drop me a note at email@example.com. We also have a 24/7HELPline at 256.716.1000. You are not alone.