How Comparison Has Slowly Destroyed Who We Are
This is perhaps going to be one of the most vulnerable posts of 2017 and that’ a-okay because out of vulnerability comes growth.
Can you believe how much Social Media has changed our lives?
Seriously. Think about it.
I joined Facebook in 2005 when it was for college students only. Back then, it was simply to connect with colleagues. Fast forward to now and it’s a completely different world. We get updates from not 5-10 friends, but hundreds at a time simply by scrolling through a customized newsfeed. We can get notified when someone is “Live” to be part of a conversation. We make purchases from targeted FB ads. We can see the adventures of people we love in real time. We can debate with people who have different opinions. We can mourn with people when tragedy strikes. We can raise funds in times of need. We can make careers from it.
With the growth of Social Media also comes the growth of many hidden issues many of us aren’t willing to admit or face. The largest one being Comparison.
My husband, Jon, and I are pretty active on social…let me rephrase that, I am very active on social. We may make our life look amazing and incredible, like we are rolling in the dough living life to the fullest and that we are super happy and our marriage is awesome and everything is jolly-ole-good, but the truth is, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns…We will get back to this in a second.
I have been making money on Facebook since 2009. First it was through selling paintings. Then it was through selling photo sessions. Then graphic design. 90% of my clientele comes from Facebook, so it’s a no brainer I spend most of my time on the social network marketing to people who need my services. Which as beneficial as it has been, has come with much mental tension as well.
As I would spend time marketing on social media looking for clients, I would see other posts from friends and strangers in groups. I saw people who were making WAY more than me with less experience in their field. People who were getting recognized by brands I would love to be recognized by. People who were in marriages where their spouse had a great job with great pay so they could achieve their financial goals quickly. People who were traveling AND getting paid for it. Before I knew it, I began to question everything in my life.
I began to question who I was.
I began to question my marriage.
I began to question my skills.
I began to question my career.
I began to question my self-worth.
Comparison became part of who I was. And the truth is, many of us live with it without acknowledging it’s there.
You see, our real life isn’t social media perfect. I wake up most mornings with joint & muscle pain from hypothyroidism, then deal with chronic fatigue throughout the day, insomnia throughout the night. Heck, I’m writing this blog at 5am after sleeping for 4 hours. I don’t travel anymore because my intestinal issues & food allergies have become worst over the years. Because of Jon’s masters degree, we’re $60K in student loan debt. As much as we’d like to pay that off quickly, we took a massive income hit when he switched jobs and I quit my last one. Let’s just say unlicensed mental health counselors don’t make much (which is stupid because they do SO MUCH FOR OUR COMMUNITIES!!! I’ll save that rant for another time). Right now with my business though I am booking often, I’m not financially where I’d like to be. After taxes, paying for my own insurances, paying for business expenses, etc, I barely make enough to help make an impact in our debt. We literally live paycheck to paycheck because both Jon and I are on a freelance unstable income. Because I want Jon to get licensed so he can make more money, we sold his car before it completely broke down. He uses mine to see clients which leaves me at home everyday all day (which over a year later has mentally taken a toll on me). Jon is usually gone from 9am-9pm most days counseling and then comes home completely drained emotionally, physically, and mentally. We stay in 90% of the time instead of socializing due to finances, scheduling, and mental health. And this is us without kids in the picture! I can’t even imagine adding that in right now (mad props to all you parents!).
Speaking of kids, we DO want a family?(adopted that is), it’s one of our top goals as a married couple, but we don’t want to start the process till majority/all our debt is paid off. So of course, add that to the mix. Me seeing these families with cute adopted kiddos slayed me.
I wasn’t grateful for anything we had because I was too busy comparing our lives to others.
Comparison f*cked us up. Drained the life out of us more than it should have. It kept us awake at night. It started to put a hindrance in our marriage. It made us unhappy. Something had to change.
1. We placed better boundaries on Social Media
There’s a beautiful feature on Facebook called “Unfollow”. I never intended to use it until the 2016 election when my Facebook feed became World War 3 between friends. If you are finding yourself jealous or comparing yourself to certain friends, it’s okay to unfollow them. They wont get a notification (though they may notice your engagement on their posts are away less).
To unfollow someone on Facebook , go to their page, click the button by “Message”, then click what you’d like to do (I’m using my husbands profile as an example, but I’d never unfollow him).
2. We became more intentional with who we surrounded ourselves with
If you want to be successful, surround yourself with people who give more than they take. But, don’t sit there and take what they give without giving back. The best relationships are the ones who healthily give and receive. We have been hurt by relationships where all they did was take time after time without giving. Surrounding yourself with people who lift you up is so incredibly important for the spirit & mind. My parents always said to me growing up, “You are who you walk with”. Make sure you are walking with people who celebrate you, mourn with you, and walk with you, not bring you down or make you question things.
3. We schedule time to disconnect
I’ve had 2 major deaths this year which have taken a toll on me mentally. It doesn’t help that I’m turning 30 soon…or maybe it does help. I’ve realized I don’t want to waste my life sitting behind a computer desk creating kick-ass websites ALL DAY trying to pay bills and survive. I want to THRIVE. A huge part of living in this seasons for me is Self-Care and REST. So outside of the digital world I’m becoming more intentional with riding my bicycle around the neighborhood, taking Hudson on more walks and play time outside, playing with my new pet Chickens, or toying around with my motorcycle. Whatever it takes to get me outside and disconnected from the digital world!
4. Accepting the reality that we are all in different seasons at the same time
We watched our some of our closest friends make their final debt payment online surrounded by their closest friends. They paid off about $80K in 2 years (which obviously is totally impressive and awesome). Jon and I want to be done with his student loans so we can start a family and not worry about finances. But even with budget cutting, limited spending, & reading Dave Ramsey books, realistically in this season of our lives? We do not have an extra $3K+ a month to put towards debt like they did. We simply don’t make enough right now to make a dent. For some reason we couldn’t accept that simple truth for the longest time, until something hit me real real hard.
YOUR LIFE CHAPTER IS NOT IDENTICAL, NOR WAS IT EVER INTENDED TO BE IDENTICAL, TO SOMEONE ELSE’S.
YOUR LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE EXACT SAME AS SOMEONE ELSE’S.
Comparing where I was in life to others was SO DAMN DRAINING and depressing! There are literal studies being done showing how social networks are causing depression in some individuals! The minute I started to take action and started living in gratitude for what I have in this season, was the minute comparison began to fade. Joy came back. Our marriage started to heal.
This is a huge reason why I curate my feeds…but not curate in the fancy design way.
Now I only try to share content that is encouraging, uplifting, funny, or positively teaching. I really encourage you to do the same! We need more positivity and uplifting honesty in this world!
Have you noticed yourself comparing your life to others? How has it made you feel? How are you combatting that?
If any of you are parents, you may want to do some research on this as the kids we are raising are embedded in a society of social media culture and it can do damage on them mentally. My husband highly recommends this book for anyone with young kids to encourage them how to positively nurture their minds while growing up.