The only mistake you will ever make.
I’ve been feeling rather inspired and yet, on the same note, so demotivated. I must admit, I get rather sucked into the online lives of others, to a point where I get so caught up in how these “strangers” are living their lives that I feel I’m not living my life. I get so distracted by their seemingly interesting lives, I feel completely distraught at the fact that my life isn’t at all interesting. Paralysis.
I’m constantly in a state of anxiety these days and this is probably due to my addiction to social media. Actually, it is probably more of an addiction to all the lives I’m not living than an addiction to social media itself. I feel like I’m addicted to that knife to the heart every time I see another human being doing something amazing with their lives. From being in a relationship to travelling to careers, I get so caught up in what others are doing in their lives, I end up feeling quite shitty at the end of the day because all I did was read about all the awe-inspiring shit everyone else was doing.
How is this so? Why can I not just be proactive and do shit? Actually, perhaps I should reword this. I am active and I do get things done, it’s just that I am never really enjoying it because I always feel like I should be doing something else.
I think it has something to do with self-sabotage. To actively seek out our own happiness is probably what we think our default setting is but human nature gets a little bit more complicated than that.
For me, being proactive and doing something creative leads me to a point of happiness. I think I sabotage this a lot by going online and comparing myself to all the lives I am not living, hence distracting me from doing something amazing.
Getting what we want can feel unbearably risky. It puts us at the mercy of fate and we open ourselves up to hope and the subsequent possibility of loss.
The only thing you are doing wrong
Comparison. Such a simple word, isn’t it? Yet, this word has a very profound impact on my life. My good friend, Dumani, and I were chatting away one day after class and I was rambling on about someone else’s life and he stopped me mid-sentence and said to me straight:
Comparison will be your only downfall in this life.
This one sentence struck such a nerve in me that it was the onset of one of the longest depressions I had ever had. I really struggled with this concept and I still do. Nowadays, it’s easier for me to handle my bad days and my thoughts. I know how to steer myself out of mind-storms quite quickly these days, but every now and then I still wake up to this sentence in my head.
The strange thing is even though I know how destructive comparison is, I will still hit up Twitter and Instagram and scroll literally until I feel sick. Social media has made it just that much easier to compare your life to the lives you aren’t living. Want to travel? Look at how happy all these dudes are travelling. Want to be in a healthy, loving relationship? Look at how happy these two are. Want to be great at what you do and change the world? Look at how awesome this 19-year-old kid is who started his own business at the age of 15 and saved two third-world countries from starvation.
It seems every platform we choose to indulge in has somehow thrown the best people in the world into our feeds and we can do nothing but cry about it.
But guys, this is all about our mindsets. I know that the people I follow are just as human as I am and I know I am just as capable of doing awesome shit as they are, but it seems to boil down to one, minuscule thing, which is your mindset.
So how do we change our mindsets?
Get to the root and start again
As a human, I have insecurities and they can hurt as fuck and sometimes I will act from this place of hurt, adding to the heavy load of insecurities already on my back. Every time I do something, there will always be this nagging feeling that it isn’t good enough or it would probably be better if someone else did it. Even as I write this, I have deep-seated insecurities screaming for me to stop and delete. But we simply can’t go through life listening to our insecurities all the time. Failure must come and go and we must grow.
I have always been self-aware when it came to my flaws and the insecurities that come with them. I can give you a clear list of issues I need to and have been working on. From “daddy issues” to “self-esteem” issues to “feminist issues”, I go through it all every day.
Society seems to have painted this image of how we should be and that daunting feeling of not making the cut is becoming more and more apparent the older I get and I think social media has taken this painting and exasperated it.
So what should I do? Delete all my accounts and avoid social media altogether?
Been there, done that. I suppose this is good for a little while. It allows you to deal with yourself. It gives you the time you need to work on yourself and to grow but this is not a long-term solution. You can’t say that you have beaten temptation when all you did was avoid it. It’s cheating. There was no real effort.
So, yes I recommend a temporary suspension of social media activity, but only as a starting point. What we really need to do is sit with ourselves as often as possible and really get to the root of our anxiety and insecurities. Now, I won’t drag this out into a long, cliched therapy session, but there is truth behind this notion of healing. Whether it is through practicing meditation, speaking to a psychologist or walking for 30 minutes a day, the point is to deal with yourself and your issues head on.
I did this for a while and it seemed to really work but eventually, I got lazy and fell into my old ways of thinking. This is another point I want to make. There is no definitive point of happiness. Life is inherently hard, but this doesn’t mean it is hopeless. We constantly have to become aware of our thoughts and actively work on them. Now and then, we fall off that path of peace but it’s not impossible to get back on it.
Lately, I have been lazy and my old habits have snuck back into my life. But This is my declaration of acknowledgment. I’m going back to the drawing board and I’m working on myself again. This doesn’t mean I have deleted all my social media accounts. Quite the opposite. Instead of turning to the lives of others, I use my accounts to highlight my insecurities through humor.
This has really helped me identify what discomfort I am feeling at the time and to express it. Once I have done this, I reflect on why I have done this and I work through the issue at hand by getting to the reason behind that discomfort.
This doesn’t always work. But it’s a start.