And What If We Stopped Comparing Ourselves to Others?

Ah, comparison! A typical human illness — because I don’t think cats are envious amongst themselves of their luscious fur or their respective treats — that is as old as us.

People compared in Ancient Egypt (“Is my eyeliner as nice as Cleopatra’s?), in Middle-Ages (“Her potato crop is better than mine!”) and still today (“I want an iPhone 8 toooo!!!). Except that, today, instead of simply comparing yourself to your neighbour or colleague, you’re basically comparing yourself to all the other women in the entire world. Television, internet, social media: Miss Comparison is always breathing down our neck whispering toxic words, slowly giving you the well-known and dreaded insecurity cancer. And honestly, I’m starting to find that freaking annoying.

Yes, for sure, I believe there is such a thing as healthy comparison, when it’s used as a source of inspiration. For example, when I read journalists/bloggers I admire and say to myself that maybe one day, I’ll be at their level (hello Laura Brown and Leandra Medine!). They motivate me. But the line is extremely thin between “healthy” and “unhealthy”; it’s only a matter of two letters after all.

The problem though is that I trip over that line a little too often. I’ve always known that social media weren’t necessarily beneficial for self-confidence, especially for anyone dealing with insecurities (mmm, like everybody), but I’ve recently grasped the grandeur of their influence on my fragility when someone asked me: “Have you ever looked at your Instagram feed and actually felt BETTER afterwards?”

Nope, never. After scrolling through dozens of pictures on a daily basis, I can safely say that I usually feel envious, jaded, and yes, sometimes a little depressed.

Does it affect me more because social media is part of my job? Probably. Because on top of comparing my life and body to hundreds of socialites, celebrities and models that are being paid millions of dollars for hitting the gym everyday, I compare my professional value to successful Instagrammers. “Why does she have so many followers? Her pictures aren’t even that nice. Maybe if I showed a little more skin? Why her and not me? Blah, blah, blah.”

I know, I sound like a grumpy old lady, but my goal is not to complain. I’m actually complaining of complaining in the first place, you see? Despite of what I think, by being exposed over and over again to thousands of people a day (some that I know and some that are total strangers), it’s like I’m being conditioned to envy them.

I know I’ve touched the bottom of the barrel when I find myself on Brittany’s account, one of Kylie Jenner’s follower’s boyfriend’s cousin and tell myself: “Wow, I hope I have a home like this one day.” That’s my cue to turn off my cellphone and start filling my brain with useful stuff. It may seem trivial, borderline funny, but if I add up all those moments when I say “Wow, I wish I had…”, that’s A LOT of time spent focusing on what I don’t have.

And the worst part of it all is that, while I’m being jealous of Brittany’s beautiful Californian apartment, I’m not working towards that so-called dream life. And while we’re at it, am I really dreaming of THAT life? Or is it because, by seeing those images repetitively, just like ads do their trick, I end up envying people and craving things that I couldn’t care less about? And who knows, maybe Brittany just got dumped by her boyfriend. Maybe Brittany just learned her mom has cancer. Maybe Brittany grew up in an unprivileged neighbourhood and worked hard and totally deserved that gorgeous apartment. BUT HOW THE HECK DID I END UP ON BRITTANY’S ACCOUNT IN THE FIRST PLACE?!?

Maybe some of you are reading this post and don’t get it at all! It’s okay — I know a couple of women who don’t seem at all affected by what sometimes feels like a giant digital schoolyard where all the girls are fighting for the “bestest, mostest” title. But unluckily, I’m not one of them.

When I was in high school, even if I was amongst the most studious students in my grade, when I did an exam and struggled with an answer and saw the girl next to me doing it with her eyes closed, I would freeze and start panicking. Social media have the same effect on me. As much as I know that all that is an illusion and that nobody really has that life that they so carefully curate on their Instagram account, I can’t help but feel like everyone is moving ahead at 90 mph in a brand new car, as I’m limping at the speed of an old lady with a walker.

The thing with social media is that you only need one crack in your tough-girl shell (commonly knowns as “insecurities”) for them to slip through and spread gangrene everywhere.

I would have loved to wrap up this post by telling you how I conquered all of my insecurities and became besties with Instagram, but clearly, I’m not there yet. I just had to get it off my chest and reach out to see if I’m the only one feeling like that. Until I find actual tips on how to have an healthier relationship with social media, I’m going to check Brittany’s apartment one more time.

What do you think? Do you compare yourself to others? If so, would you say you do it in an healthy or unhealthy way? Is it worse because of social media? Do you have any advice? Let me know in the comments!

Photo by Melika Dez

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3 thoughts

  1. Great post-beautifully written. As a Highschool student comparison and judgement is a daily struggle. But when I find myself taking a step back and regathering my real self worth I can’t help but notice how I ignore the social media notifications. Thanks for sharing🙂

  2. This is so true and surprising, as I am sure people (myself) look at your instagram feed with envy sometimes! Great idea to post this before the holidays, as I recently told my sister that I was going to delete social media during the holidays. not so much because of the media itself, but because they make me addicted to my phone. Anyways Joelle, this is a great post and thank you for sharing how you feel!

  3. I totally relate to this post, and you are not alone! I have to take breaks from social media from time to time because seeing everyone’s perfectly photographed and edited photos on all my feeds just zaps my mental energy and makes me question pretty much my entire life. In the end though, it helps me to realize that a lot of the perfect photos on Instagram are heavily styled and portrays a life that many people don’t actually live. “I did it for the ‘gram” is a common mantra I’ve come across, and sometimes it’s just as exhausting for influencers to produce perfect photos all the time as it is to consume them!

    Comparison on social media and the web in general is definitely an issue that many women (and men!) battle with every day, and I think people just have to discover their own ways of rising above their insecurities and realizing that your own self-worth can’t be measured relative to someone else’s. Keep your chin up girl, you rock!

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