“You spend all night admiring pictures.
They make life as perfect as they should
But you don’t know the picture story
And how long it took to make it good” – Jonathan McReynolds.
This is to the girls like me, who have at one time stopped to compare their lives to the fantasies they see on Instagram. To the boys too.
I know as well as anybody else what it feels like when you scroll through the internet and see things that make you question your journey in life. This piece is written from a place of genuine concern, and I hope that in the end, you’ll never forget that you’re enough for yourself and that the demanding standards you see on Social Media are just illusions that you should never believe.
Some months ago, I uninstalled my major social networking apps from my phone because I felt they were too much to deal with. Actually, It was getting depressing seeing a lot of things that made me question my life and the things I had going on for me.
You know its really hard to see people your age post really amazing stuff online while you’re ‘just there’ in your own lane.
As much as we may hate to admit this, there’s something about social media that affects our subconscious and fills our minds with some feeling of emptiness or under- value. There’s something about it that makes us question our journey, and wonder if were doing right by ourselves.
Above the other things that have at some point made me question my journey, in this post I’ll talk about the picture perfect bodies I see online and the perfect ‘Instagram standard’ highlights of other people’s lives.
A lot of the time, I stare at the mirror and get so angry with my body for being the way it is. Fashion brands somehow make us believe that the perfect girls are the extremely slim, light skinned girls with a flat stomach. Imagine the conflict that goes on in my head when the image that stares right back at me is a ‘In-no-way’ slim girl who is very dark skinned and has a stomach that could pass for one holding a three month old pregnancy.
But who did I offend gangan?
I strongly believe that the internet or the things that we see on our TV screens have a way of influencing our thought patterns.
I’ll use myself as an example.
Growing up, the shows I watched on TV were largely foreign content. Cinderella, snow white and all the other Disney princess collections, Nickelodeon kids content and all of that. The only thing I remember that felt African to me was Lion King, and the characters weren’t human, so I couldn’t identify much with them.
In the stories I started writing as a teenager, the characters I created were characters that felt perfect in my head– Characters I had picked up from all the content I had been exposed to as a child. My female characters had to be tall and light skinned, with very long straight hair. Clearly, I didn’t consider myself or anyone who looked like me perfect.
Also, I’m sure you can relate to the pain that comes with going online and seeing your mates posting all the things you wish you could afford; fast cars, designer wears, flawless selfies. Even ‘relationship goals’.
Truth is, as much as you try to block out these things from your mind, there will be days you still think ‘If only I had these too’.
Last year, I decided enough was enough! I deleted all my social media apps. It was bad enough that my mentality had been flawed from my childhood. I wasn’t going to start getting depressed about the things I knew I couldn’t change.
I needed to find a way to protect myself from comparing my life to the lives I constantly saw on the Internet.
I needed to give myself a break. I needed time to process how I felt about myself. I needed to make sure that I wasn’t lying to myself all the times I uploaded a picture of myself and inserted a caption that bothered on self love.
I talked to few friends about the new step I took. I realized that a number of them also struggled with the same problem.
In some of our conversations, I was made to understand that I couldn’t run away from the Internet forever, and I had to deal with my insecurities someway.
I decided I was going to activate my accounts again, because more importantly, I needed those spaces to publicize my blog content.
The new question was – How would I maintain my sanity amidst the ocean of contents that could make me lose my focus?
I came up with a plan. I decided to:
– block or unfollow any account that makes me feel like I should have achieved more than I already have.
-block or unfollow any account that sets selfish and unrealistic standards for young people.
– speak out against unrealistic social standards.
– block any cyber bully who thinks its okay to harass strangers over the internet.
-block, unfollow or unsubscribe from any account whose posts are most likely to make me feel less of myself regardless of how close we may be.
You know, I’ve also come to understand that more often than not, the pictures we see on social media are just highlights of peoples lives. The ugly parts never go online.
Its really not okay to compare your life with another persons own. Just be happy with the life that you have. Truth is that what you have may just be what the person you’re comparing yourself to wishes he/she had.
Be content with your own happiness, and don’t let social standards rob you of it. I’ve come to realize that society is designed to not make everyone feel important. It’s designed to impose ideas and standards for people to follow. It’s designed to make a certain kind of people more acceptable than others. But its not okay, because the fact that you exist on this planet with the rest of the world means you’re just as important as them, social standards or not.
Remember that you’re just perfect the way you are, regardless of the fact that society dictates what beauty should be. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re a work of art, whether the rest of the world agrees or not.
Live your life at your own pace. Be ambitious. Want more for yourself, but don’t drown yourself in the pressure.
Lastly darling, you’re in charge of your life. Rule it by your own laws.