Dealing with pressure and the feeling of inadequacy is something that we all struggle with at some point. We are growing up in a generation online, where you can find out so many things about someone with just the click of a button. It can feel like you are on the world stage with everybody watching your next move, but it’s important to remember to differentiate between reality and what we see on social media.
Nowadays it’s so easy to get caught in a social-media blackhole, constantly spiralling through posts of celebrity fad diets and seeing everybody else post their perfect success stories. Celebrity billionaires flaunt their wealth at the age of 21 and it can often make us feel like failures before we’ve even had a chance to succeed.
Social media has the ability to control our perceptions of both ourselves and our lives. We open Instagram every morning to people posting their ‘perfect’ bodies and dreamy vacations, which can have a very negative effect on us. It leads us to make dangerous comparisons between our reality and the heavily altered version of life that social media presents.
It is so easy to forget that what we see on Instagram is not reality, it’s what someone wants us to see. The ‘perfect’ toned bodies, flashy cars and mansions are all posted by someone who wants us to see that part of their lives. We rarely see the actuality behind those pictures; the emotions, troubles and imperfections that are the beauty of life. Social media portrays an idealistic version of life that doesn’t exist and it’s so important to remember that.
The pressures to have your life sorted by 25, to achieve the ‘perfect’ body, to be able to afford luxurious holidays, are all emphasised by social media. It easily makes us feel inadequate or not good enough and this social media spiral blinds us to the beauties of reality.
It has the power to connect us with everyone everywhere and can add to the enormous pressure we already feel. It often feels as if we have to keep up an online appearance to receive approval for our lives.
This can be especially difficult when we grow up. Some people go to university, others do apprenticeships or take a break from education. It’s an incredibly challenging age to reach because everybody takes different paths, yet have a social media following to update along their journey.
There is a huge amount of pressure to go to university straight away. If we don’t it can make us feel like failures, as if we are staying still and watching everybody move on without us. The insistence to know what we want to do at the age of 17/18 and the pressure to move forward can feel insurmountable. These feelings are frequently exacerbated as social media gives us access to everyone’s journey.
Yet a crucial part of growing up is moving on. Whether you go to university or take an apprenticeship, or gap year, it’s essential to remember that there is no wrong path. Some paths may feel more like a roller coaster than a yellow brick road, but no matter which we take it will always be the best one for us personally.
And it’s the same for relationships. Growing up gay I had no idea what a homosexual relationship would look like. My only comparisons were the heavily romanticised and unrealistic relationships portrayed in films like Call Me by Your Name. I felt this insane amount of pressure to achieve a relationship like in the movies. I began to feel more and more lonely as it felt I would never feel the same level of deep affection.
It wasn’t until I took a step back and realised that something as intimate and romantic as a relationship can’t be compared to another person’s interpretation. A relationship is personal, what works for someone often won’t work for someone else. It is crucial that we strive for what works for us and don’t try to fit someone else’s view on how we should be living our lives.
Now more than ever we have to try and focus on what works personally for us. It’s so difficult to not compare ourselves to others when we are faced with social media and films that portray unrealistic interpretations of life, but that is all they are - interpretations. They are someone’s opinion on what they want their life to be and not a goal for us to match up to.
We live in a time where social media can make it very difficult to take a step without the pressure of the whole world watching. It is so easy to feel inadequate when constantly faced with the standards of ‘perfection’ that the media presents.
However, it is so important to remember that the concepts of the perfect life, or path or relationship are completely unrealistic. Perfection is highly personal and as soon as we all realise this we can start living our lives for ourselves without the pressure to achieve someone else’s perfect interpretation of life.
Life is imperfect, and that’s what makes it beautiful.