Take one look at Instagram and you’ll find thousands of girls showing off how perfect their lives are. Their feeds are full of sumptuous food, luxurious days at the beach, and gorgeous, smiling friends. But when it’s so easy to dive into another person’s life and explore the adventures they have every day, we often come away thinking—why isn’t my life like that?
Unfortunately, most of us start to feel like we should be like the girls we see on social media.
Unfortunately, most of us start to feel like we should be like the girls we see on social media. It’s not uncommon to hear “wow she is so #goals,” “ugh why can’t I be as pretty as her?” and “I just wish I could be half that perfect” ringing through school hallways and Instagram comments. But aspiring to be like someone else often backfires, and leaves us feeling demoralized and unworthy. When we base our aspirations on being better than we were yesterday, we’re able to reach all of our goals in a positive way, without bringing ourselves down.
The half-truths of Twitter and Tumblr
When we look at someone’s social media profile, we usually see it as an accurate representation of that person’s life, personality, and hobbies. But think about it: are you more likely to post a picture on Facebook of the fun dinner you had with friends last weekend, or the biology test you didn’t really study enough for? Almost everyone is going to pick the first option, so social media profiles show only the good things that are happening in our lives.
Why is this important? Because no one’s life is perfect, they just look that way online! The girls on Instagram who look like they’re effortlessly floating through the day, surrounded by adoring fans and always in perfect outfits #nofilter? They’re normal people—they have bad hair days, and days when they fight with their friends, and days when they just don’t feel that cute, and days when they need to drag themselves to school even though all they want is to sleep a little bit longer. When we talk about other people as our #goals, we trying to be something that doesn’t exist: a perfect snapshot of a perfect day, but all the time.
What happens when goals are impossible to reach
We’ll never be immune to problems; no matter what, there will always be some bad days and some times when things don’t go our way. That’s totally fine, it’s totally normal. When we set ourselves up trying to be impossibly perfect all the time, we only end up frustrated. And we miss the most important truth of all: we are all perfect, already.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to run a faster mile or score better on a test. Shouldn’t we also be focusing on the awesome people we were yesterday and how to be more awesome today? Progress, right?
Self-love and letting go of jealousy
Seeing someone online doing all the things you wish you could do is a recipe for envy, and such a waste of precious energy. What are the actual effects of jealousy staring at someone else’s life? To the person you’re idolizing, none. To you, envy and jealousy are only detrimental. They pull at your ability to love and appreciate yourself, and make goals about fitting a mold that someone else has made, instead of becoming the best version of you.