Let’s be honest. Who hasn’t at least once, looked at someone’s photos on social media and thought to themselves – I want his/her life?
I’ll confess I have. For me personally, it’s usually about a blogger running a profitable online business or someone travelling the globe seeing amazing things.
Having the odd ‘I want what she’s having’ moment is fine as long as it doesn’t turn into anything obsessive, resentful or negative.
If coveting other people’s lives stops you from living the best version of your own life, than there is a problem.
As much as I enjoy using social media, the simple truth is it can be deceptive. People exaggerate, sugar-coat, filter the crap out of things and downright lie.
Let’s have a closer look at some of the reasons you should not compare yourself or your life to what you see on social media.
For this particular post, the focus is going to be on images and photos.
What you see is often not what you get
Quite frankly in the days of Photoshop any image can be dramatically altered or changed beyond recognition.
Altering images has been around for a long time. Airbrushing was all the rage when I was younger. Making images look different from the original is not new, it’s simply a lot easier to do.
It’s important to understand photos get altered to look better than the original.
We need to drop any notion of something or more dangerously someone looking and being ‘perfect’ because of what we see in photos.
Trying to look like a certain celebrity is madness, considering the celebrity doesn’t look like their touched-up photo in the first place!
It’s about business
If you are a professional photographer and you don’t have great looking photos on your Instagram feed, I would be worried. People will be less inclined to buy from you since taking great photos is your job. The same could be said for interior designers, website designers and a whole bunch of other professions that are highly visual.
If you’re an amateur photographer, you shouldn’t be comparing yourself negatively to a professional one. The professionals are in business to make money.
While we are on the topic of business, a trap we often fall into is comparing ourselves to business people at different stages of success. If you are just starting out you shouldn’t compare yourself to someone who has been in business for a long time.
I once went back through one of my favorite bloggers archives to look at some of her earlier posts. I wanted to see what they were like because I was freaking out about the quality of my own work and comparing myself unfavorably. Her early stuff was exactly what I expected. It wasn’t very good. She had to learn how to be great.
I’m not talking just about photos being filtered. Life in general is filtered. Other than the news which still tends to go with the ‘if it bleeds it leads’ angle, much of what we see is filtered in some way to look better.
It’s important to be aware of the stories going on in the background and in particular the stuff that doesn’t get shown in pretty pictures.
As an example, let’s have a look at my two earlier envy-triggers. Travel and successful online business people.
I’ve done enough travelling to know that there are down days on the road.
We don’t see many Instagram photos of someone who has picked up a stomach bug on the Laos border and had to take an 11 hour bus ride from hell. There’s probably not too many Facebook photos of someone catching the flu in Madrid (in the middle of a heat wave) and being so sick they can barely more for a week.
The same thing can be said about the successful online business owner. You probably won’t see photos of frustration and anxiety when their site crashes in the middle of an important launch that needs to bring in much-needed sales or when their site has been hacked.
In both examples people will most likely write about their trials and setbacks but these moments won’t show up as photos in their Instagram feed.
Photos and images show just one part of the overall story – but there is always a lot more to the big picture. Don’t compare yourself to a tiny part of the story.
Our lives are different from other people’s, not better. Different is good, how incredibly dull and boring would it be if we were all the same!
When it all comes down to it, this post isn’t just a rally cry not to compare yourself to people on social media, it’s about not comparing yourself at all.
The more you focus on your own goals, dreams and your own version of success the better off you will be.
Learning from people who have achieved a level of success you are striving for is a great idea. It’s a fantastic way to accelerate your growth and move forward. It’s when the coveting of other people’s success holds us back from our own that there is cause for concern.
Your self-worth should never be measured against images of someone else’s life.
You are worth so much more than that!
Focus on what is important to you.
Admire that gorgeous social media photo – use it as inspiration, use it to motivate you – then get back to doing what is important in your life.
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Photograph courtesy of Wonderlass