How many times a day do wish that something was different? How often do you wish you’d gone for a run, or woken up earlier, or saved more money from your last pay day? There is always something, somewhere or someway we wished we were. It seems to be human nature that we’re always comparing ourselves; we always think that we should be better, fitter, richer, bigger, smaller or something else.
Recently I have been feeling unhappy because I don’t feel as independent and self-supporting as I should be. I hear of friends buying houses, getting mortgages or finding new apartments, I have friends who are working in well regarded, ‘grown-up’ positions, friends getting married, having kids. All sorts of impressive, self-sufficient, life affirming things. And sometimes I can’t help but feel… well… like I’m lacking. I feel like I’m not where I want to be with work, with money, with my health, with my living situation, with my love life. I feel like I should be so much further along in my life than I feel I am sometimes. I have this idea of what I want, or what I think I want.
As I’m sure you could have guessed if you’ve read my last post, this comparison gets worse whenever I spend too much time online. This is especially the case when I spend too long on Instagram. There’s just something about all these perfect pictures and the aesthetics and the following and the liking involved in the app suddenly makes me feel less good about myself if I’m on there for too long. And I’m not alone, there are multiple articles connecting low self esteem, poor mental health and FOMO (fear of missing out). In fact, in a group of almost 1,500 young adults and teens, Instagram was voted the worst app for mental health. And while it is true that it can very well be a personal source of toxicity Instagram doesn’t have to be. It isn’t fair, or accurate, to blame Instagram entirely. It’s only a reflection of the people, and the society can uses it. Its ingrained into our societies to compare and compete, when actually we are also just as capable of supporting and lifting each-other up. And Instagram can absolutely be a tool to do that.
This week I received a postcard from my grandparents. The front of the card read “One Smile, One Hug, One Day at a time.” Although it was simple card, the message (and the design) was beautiful. I don’t need to compare, I don’t need to worry about where everyone else is up to, what they’re doing or how they look compared to me. I’m living my own life, in my own time and my joys are no less significant and important than someone-else’s. I can celebrate and be content with where I am, because when considering what is really important, my life is pretty awesome. I can be happy and proud of where I’m up to and what I’m doing. And to be honest, I am happy. I am proud. And I deserve to be. And so do you. No matter where you’re at or what you’re doing. Don’t try an count you happiness or your success in likes or follows or comments. Just think about the things that actually count. The things that made you happy. The things that made you feel like you were safe, and loved. Even if the period your in right now isn’t your happiest, or if you don’t feel loved, remember this. Take it one day at a time. That is all you need to count. Take each day as a fresh new start; an opportunity to grow and develop as a person, in a healthy way. That’s all you can do. And trust me, life gets better and you’re value isn’t in your social media presence. It isn’t in your money, your body, your job or the things you have. It’s inherent. Your importance already exists, and cannot be reduced or devalued.
And I’m going to do my best to take my own advice. I am going to take it one day at a time and I’m going to work on thinking about what is really important, and what truly makes me happy. Especially on what makes ME happy. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. I can be happy, they can be happy, and it doesn’t cancel the other out. Lets celebrate each-other’s happiness and achievements, and not compare them to our own. Both can exist and both can be equally valid. One Smile. One Hug. One Day at a time.