Remember when comparing yourself to another’s life (especially their life as carefully CONSTRUCTED via Facebook or Instagram, etc.) to keep in mind that everything SEEMS better when you are looking in from the outside.
People (you, me, us, all of us) choose what they want the world to see and how they want it to be interpreted. When you read a memoir or a (my) personal essay, it is NOT a diary entry. Each word has been carefully thought out and crafted.
Whenever you have feelings of unworthiness—whether towards your body, career, lack of career, bank account, children, lack of children, spouse, lack of spouse, travel as compared to someone else’s—remember this:
You have no idea what the person’s life you are comparing yourself to is really like.
When the doors are closed. When the lights are off. When the computer is shut down. When they are depressed or scared or lonely or afraid.
The proverbial grass is always greener.
When in reality, it’s probably not. It’s probably yellow and needs watering. Yes, in some cases, in may actually be greener. A helluva lot greener.
But we’ll never really know. Not really. Not unless we are actually living that person’s life (which is an impossibility unless you are living in a Twilight Zone episode).
All I’m saying is to be careful what stories you make up—about yourself, about other people, about yourself in comparison to other people. About how great so-and-so’s life is.
Don’t let so-and-so’s “great life” make your own life feel irrelevant/small/sh*tty.
Social media (as much as I love it, and I do loooove it) can be a trap. You can sit here all day and look through photos and wish you had so-and-so’s life because it must be so nice to travel so much,
- or have their “perfect” job,
- or to be able to do all those crazy upside down fancy yoga poses they post on Instagram,
- or, look how cute their kid is, so well behaved, always saying the darndest things,
- or look how happy they are!
- or, wow, they have ANOTHER book out, and I have one (or none) etc. etc.
It cheapens our lives and wastes our time when we do this. (This is a note to self as much as I am reminding all of us, as well. Excuse me while I tattoo this on my brain.)
I know that people sometimes compare themselves to me just as I am guilty of doing to other people. Look at your life, Jen. Must be nice. How many people do you think can realistically travel to the Galalpagos, Jen? was a recent comment on one of my photos from my Galapagos retreat on my Facebook. And when I am supposed to be working or writing, I instead sometimes sit here at my desk and look at all the writers who are more widely published, more this, more that.
Today, I ran into someone in the grocery store. I was in full shlumpadinka mode. (Thanks, Oprah, for that word. It’s a gem, and I borrow it often.) I looked distracted (I was) and pale, messy hair, mismatched socks. Things were falling out of my purse. I ran into someone who follows me on social media. “Hey Jen! Looks like everything in your life is amazing! I see all your posts. Your life. So amazing.” I probably had food in my teeth as I spoke to her.
I don’t post when I am having an anxiety attack or when I go to the bathroom or when I feel lousy and unworthy.
It can be a trap. (But hot damn, I love social media—just look at my Facebook page; look at that community I’ve cultivated.) So here I am. Here I will be. Posting away.
For the love of cliché, I just said that. I did. Look inward rather than outward.
Become aware when you are doing it—the comparison BS. The making up stories nonsense. The making yourself feel less than.
And be happy for people. Be really, really genuinely happy for people.
But don’t compare. And don’t assume.
And by all means, remember that almost everything you see on the internet is a careful construct.
Jen will be leading a Manifestation Writing/Yoga retreat at Kripalu Center in Massachusetts in February 2014 as well as in Costa Rica at the end of March and her annual retreat to Tuscany in July 2014. She travels around the country leading her signature Manifestation Workshops. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings.
*Image of me courtesy of Simplereminders.com. Quote by Iyanla Vanzant.