I’m scrolling through Instagram. On my feed, I am immediately swamped with the images of picture-perfect women walking on the beach in Maui, celebrities eating filet mignon in a candlelit room, and people posing with model-like postures holding on to their significant other.
Sometimes it is fun to see how others are living and experiencing life, but other times, inevitably, there are feeling that arise from seeing so many people doing so many luxurious things. These feelings sometimes include jealousy, inadequacy, fear, and doubt. Eventually, I had to understand that even though something looks great on the surface, doesn’t mean there aren’t underlying issues.
Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory in psychology says we only deal with that which we perceive with the naked eye. The rest goes unnoticed, like an iceberg. There is a conscious part of the information, but there is also another unconscious part underneath.
When looking at social media, you see the models and their glamour. You see their flawless skin and silky hair. What you don’t see is what keeps them up at night. You don’t see their trauma or their pain. You don’t see what it took for them to get to where they are.
It can be easy to jump to assumptions about the lives and experiences of others when you only see them in pieces. But the reality is everyone, regardless of publicity or success, has dealt with pain. Everyone has had to work to overcome obstacles.
As hard as it may be, we must force ourselves to focus on the way we feel, just as we are, presently. It is okay if there are things about you that you believe need improving. No one is perfect which means that everyone can improve. Problems arise when we begin to agonize about things we cannot change. It’s important to know the difference between self-improvement and self-deprecation. In other words, we need to understand what are healthy forms of motivating and improving our lives and what are dangerous ways that lead to mental and emotional distress.
If you want to make changes in your life that lead you to be happier or healthier then by all means do that. Just take caution and do not beat yourself up when your progression doesn’t look like it does in others. You don’t know where they began. Maybe the person you are comparing yourself to has advantages that you don’t have, or maybe they have been working at it longer. It is all about perspective.
Brittany G., RPSV Staffer