We are living in an age where trends flit and flutter away in the blink of an eye; where we use our phones as a newspaper in the morning, and where everyone knows everything about friends and strangers. Social media has practically taken over our lives, and though it can serve as a platform where creative inspiration is infinite, and where we can share our passions with just about anyone, it certainly has its downfalls. As a person so involved in this digital space, I know first-hand that it can feel more like a competition, and less about lifting each other up.
As women, we are constantly exposed to all aspects of beauty. As we scroll our timelines, each flawless picture can feel like a punch in the gut. My mind races with things such as: why am I not traveling to this exotic destination? Why was I not invited to this event? If I am not at or involved in these things, am I failing? Of course, the answer is no. But as you scroll further, you can’t help but feel that way. It is up to us to take ourselves out of the equation and realize that we aren’t failing, we are just comparing, which is another challenge to face. It is best for our mental health that we don’t fall down the social media rabbit hole, which brings me to my next point: make it less about comparison, and more about inspiration.
There are always those accounts to which we aspire, but sometimes, they can do more harm than good. It’s taken me a long time to realize that sometimes unfollowing can be the best way to clear your mind. Do you really need to follow that supermodel that posts to her story every day and makes you feel shitty? Probably not. Insert delicate unfollow here. Then, you can always re-follow that person when you are in a better place and will regard that person for what he/she is. They are on their own career path, not yours. Do it to anyone that makes your heart sink rather than inspires it. It is so cleansing for the soul and your mind will feel a lot clearer, almost as if you are wiping away a slate of negativity that you had in the back of your head.
Next, it is important to regard everything for what it is. I am sure you have heard this countless times before, but social media only shows the perfect aspects of one’s life. A snippet of a day. It (rarely) shows the anxiety attacks, the garment that has ripped, the hours of editing, the practices for that effortless pose, the mundane activities that make one humble, the extension of a vacation even though one is at home in bed. I know it firsthand because I can say upfront that I have experienced all of this. Every Fashion Week season I get the jitters and have anxiety attacks because I am not sure if I am good enough. Again, it is important to regard things as they are. Know in your heart that that person has a story, a struggle, and even though their photos might be perfect, everyone has something going on. In acknowledging this, you are putting distance between yourself and that person or thing that you idolize.
With that said, space is also extremely important when it comes to comparison. Instagram FOMO is real. Trust me. As I write this it is Copenhagen Fashion Week and instead of sinking into these feelings, I am regarding them for what they are; I am happy for the people I follow that are there. I comment on positive things, I support them, I tell myself that I will be there next season with these friends and influencers. Quitting the app, leaving your phone on a table (I know it may sound hard but trust me it gets better), and spending time with real people can take you away from that madness. Having quality conversations with different people, perhaps individuals not in the same industry, can take you away from your worries and make them feel minuscule. The amount of likes or invites accrued is trivial if you put it into perspective. Making connections, manifesting friendships, having a happy family, are what matter the most in the grand scheme of things. I find that when I talk to other people involved in social media, they express that they always take time to take themselves out of Instagram, whether it be via pet, lover, baby, or hobby. It is like a breath of fresh air, away from any weird feelings you may be having about social media.
Though it can be a struggle, once you finally take yourself out of the digital space, it can be so beneficial to your health and to your mindset. Take time away to paint, read, or create whatever that makes you happy. I wrote this article because I am a part of it, my job and my identity are wrapped up in it, and I am hoping that I am breaking the stigma by speaking about these things and pretending that it doesn’t affect me or people in this industry, because it does. We all feel these things, whether we like to admit it or not. It is up to us to break the cycle of scrolling, tapping and comparing, and to conquer Instagram FOMO once and for all, one positive reminder at a time.
Words, Christie Tyler. Image, Shelby Rodriguez.