Disclaimer: this post was difficult to write, and shares a lot of my own personal struggles and feelings surrounding social media comparisons. Whether you can relate to these feelings or not, please refrain from making any negative remarks. Remember that everyone perceives things and feels differently. As always, thank you so much for reading.
We’ve all felt it: that pulsating twinge of envy or discontent as we scroll mindlessly through the perfectly curated feeds of Instagram. When social media first became a thing, it was about sharing a glimpse into your life, top down selfies (remember the good old days??) your Pinterest wish-list, or your favorite coffee order. Fast forward to today, and social media is full of influencers sharing pictures of their huge, expensive houses, lavish vacations, and closets larger than my first apartment. Our culture is based largely around the desire for more, more, more, and many of their followers find themselves reaching yet again for their credit cards each time a new post is shared with ‘the white top you need right now.’
Please note I have nothing against influencers and this post is not meant to bash them: many of them have worked incredibly hard to get to where they are now, and they deserve to show it off! But for the average follower, it’s hard not to take a look at your own life and compare it to their seemingly perfect one. And sure, you could unfollow them to alleviate this issue, but real life is not without its own challenges. It can be difficult not to compare yourself to that friend who got pregnant without trying, that coworker who got the promotion you desperately wanted, or a cousin who had the wedding you’d been dreaming of.
Sometimes, it feels like everyone is more successful than you.
While success looks different for everyone, our society is so deeply rooted in consumerism that ‘making it’ now equates to buying a large home, an expensive car, or jet-setting off to exotic locales. I – and most people I know – cannot afford to live like that and unfortunately, we don’t often see “realistic lifestyles” reflected on social media. Instead, we see flawless women urging us to buy the “new dress you need this summer” or sharing home finds they just can’t live without (and yes, I am guilty of doing this.) Between Instagram and TikTok and other platforms, the pressure to buy things or look perfect feels never-ending.
Don’t get me wrong, social media can be a wonderful tool. But since its inception, we have lost the ability to be grateful for what we do have. We find ourselves wishing for what someone else has and thinking that if we had it, our lives would somehow be better (spoiler alert: it won’t be).
Comparison is the thief of joy
It’s the age-old adage. Let me set the scene: it’s 2015, and my now-husband and I were living in a tiny, cramped, attic-style apartment in the city. The space was small, less than 500 square feet with sloped ceilings, but it’s all we could afford at the time.
And I hated it.
I felt miserable coming home every day. In the evenings after work, I would lay on my couch and scroll through posts of influencers showing off their new designer tote, and the jealousy monster would rear its ugly head. Was it silly to feel that envious of a bag of all things? Absolutely! But it happens to the best of us and, at the time, it’s all I could think about. I saw myself as less than because I could not afford that Tory Burch tote or that dress that everyone but me seemed to own. My self-worth was tied to the things I didn’t have, and because I didn’t have what all the influencers had, I wasn’t successful — or worth it.
It was all in my head, of course. Looking back, I wish I could tell my younger self not to spend all that time pining for things don’t really matter. Nobody cares how many pairs of shoes you own or that you bought a Mercedes. But I thought they did at the time, and that led to a long, out of control spiral of overspending just to keep up with strangers on the internet. It sounds stupid in retrospect, sure, and maybe you’ve never really experienced the need to ‘keep up with the Joneses,’ but the truth is, a lot of people get caught up in this dangerous mindset; it’s why influencers are so prevalent. (Kelsey of So Much Life wrote an excellent blog post on how to overcome instagram jealousy. Check it out here.)
But while you find yourself wishing you had that new car or that you could purchase your dream home, there’s someone out there who would give anything to be where you are now. You simply cannot compare your Chapter 3 to someone else’s Chapter 8.
That being said, I still struggle with feeling successful. There are goals and milestones I wanted to achieve by now and haven’t, and then I remember I already have so much to be grateful for. I wish I could tell my younger self “just you wait, life gets so much better than this” because it did, and because I did buy that Tory Burch tote and guess what? It didn’t improve my life in the slightest, and while I still own it (and use it frequently!) there is always going to be something else you want, and something else after that.
Lately, I’ve come to realize that most of my content revolves around consumerism, and that’s not the message I want to share in this season of life. Instead, I want to focus on building a life that I love, one where I am not looking for validation from others online and how to encourage others to do the same.
It’s time to shift our way of thinking
I want to introduce you to a concept: attainable living.
Is it a new concept? No. It’s the idea of living simply, humbly, and cultivating the life of your dreams in a realistic and obtainable manner while practicing gratitude. It’s focusing less on curating the perfect life for appearances and instead, learning to build a life you truly love within your means and not by Keeping up with the Joneses. Those magazine-worthy kitchens and bedroom-sized walk in closets (while nice!) are not relatable for most people. Attainable living focuses on achieving dreams realistically, being content with what you have, and romanticizing the little things in life.
What does that mean for the future of LRH?
I have so much to be incredibly grateful for. In this season of life, I no longer find myself envious of the lives of social media influencers or strangers online. I don’t need an enormous house or an expensive car or three Chanel bags to feel worthy or successful. Instead, I define success as having a roof over our heads, staying healthy, being able to afford good food, having a career we find fulfillment in, and being able to afford all of our bills. My success is NOT defined by the size of my kitchen or the vacations I can afford. As long as it makes me happy, that’s all that matters. Not the opinion of strangers on the internet.
Going forward, LRH and my social media accounts will be focused on sharing relatable content, and things that make me happy – even if it’s not popular, or doesn’t get a lot of ‘likes.’ You won’t find perfect photos here, because my life isn’t perfect! It’s messy and crazy and beautiful, and that’s what I want reflected in my content. I don’t have a laundry room the size of an apartment or a spotless home every day, and that’s ok! What I do have are countless blessings I can be grateful for, instead of focusing all of my energy into the things I don’t have.
I am not a professional cook, interior designer, or stylist: but my content will focus on affordable, easy recipes for the average family, how to decorate your space beautifully on a budget, and how to dress well no matter how much your outfit cost. I’m passionate about cultivating and curating from my heart, bringing you content that I hope will inspire you to live a life full of beauty and gratitude.
Five tips for coping with the comparison blues
1. Define YOUR version of success and happiness
As I mentioned above, success looks different for everyone. Somewhere along the way, society decided success was measure by the size of your home, the car you drive, the way you look, how you dress, money, and even the number of social media followers you have. What does success look like for you? Think about what makes you truly happy, and think about physical, financial, mental, and emotional success. What you define as successful for yourself is all that matters, not what someone else is succeeding at.
2. Get inspired
Just a reminder: someone’s highlight reel on social media – and how others respond to it – is unrelated to your real worth and value. Repeat after me: it is unrelated to your real worth and value. Instead, follow accounts that inspire you and allow yourself to appreciate the beauty all around you. While you are getting inspired by them, remember to shift your mindset and cheer them on: we often forget the hours – and even years- of hard work that have gone into achieving that success. And if you still find yourself falling into that toxic, envious mindset, go ahead and unfollow them online! Your social media feed should bring you joy, not make you feel bad about what you don’t have.
3. Remember that life is too short
Instead of wasting precious time focusing on other people’s lives, focus on improving your own. I spent so much of my time comparing myself to others and it was so unhealthy – I wish I had channeled that energy into bettering my situating or achieving realistic goals.
When you’re focused on your own growth, you don’t have time to focus on others. You only get one life to live, and I promise you, people are way too caught up in their own lives to worry about yours.
4. Be grateful
Spending 5 minutes every day writing down 3 things that I am grateful for that day helped shift my mindset dramatically. By feeling gratitude for the things I do have, I found myself more present in my own life instead of spending time on social media feeling envious of others.
5. The only thing you should be comparing yourself to…
…is the person you were yesterday, not someone else’s today. Figure out how you can be a better person today than you were yesterday. What have you done today to help you achieve that goal you set a year ago? What have you done today that would have made past-you proud? What have you accomplished today that you thought yesterday was impossible?