Whether I travel to a different state, experience some life-changing event, or hangout somewhere cool with a group of friends, I always feel the need to take a picture of what I’m doing for social media. Always. From quickly snapping a photo for snapchat, to posing for a shot that may be worthy enough to make my Instagram feed, I cannot go without documenting the event. For some reason feel the need to make my life look exciting and, for lack of a better term, perfect.
I feel sometimes that my photos on Instagram have to look as close to professional as possible, and in them I have to look as good as possible. I need to edit them with tools such as VSCO, but they can’t look too touched up. Then I have to come up with a cute or clever caption that isn’t too unoriginal or tacky. It MUST go with my overall feed on Instagram, or it will be removed from the post all together.
Another worry of mine is whether or not I post too much. Just a few minutes ago, I was creating an Instagram post and thought to myself, “I’ve already posted about my trip in New York five times, am I posting too much? Am I being annoying?” I even looked up a popular photography page and counted how many times they posted about their most recent trip before publishing my post.
Have a headache yet? These extensive steps are all a part of my anxiety and the little voice inside my head whispering, “Abby, you have to look like you’ve got it all together. You can’t let people know that you have quirks, hang ups, and bad days.” Sometimes, these posts can be the most stressful part of my day.
Social media can be harmless in moderation, but obsessive habits like these show that too much of it can do a lot of damage.Don’t get me wrong, editing your photos, coming up with creative captions, and showing people the amazing things that you’ve experienced isn’t a bad thing if you have the right mindset. However, if you are constantly worrying about the amount of likes you receive, or how people may perceive you, there becomes a problem.
My main issue is rooted in my endless insecurities. To narrow it down, it’s all about comparison. I spend countless hours scrolling through my feed, looking at girls who seem to have it all figured out. They’ve cute hair, nice clothes, and fit and slim figures (and I could go on). They keep up with these beautiful layouts and feeds on their platforms. All the pictures fit into a certain color scheme or tone. They always seem to be enjoying themselves and the lavishing, perfect life they seem to lead. But I never stop and remind myself that these people are all human. As much as their Instagram feed or snapchat stories lead me to believe, the aren’t perfect. Not that I should judge others and think of their weaknesses, but why do I have to hold such high standards for myself? Everyone has bad days, so why can’t I?
The truth of the matter is that no one’s life is perfect, no matter what they post of social media. No matter how finely tuned their pictures are, they go through similar struggles to everyone else. Whether or not I have a desirable figure, a breathtaking Instagram layout, or an exciting life, it doesn’t make me any less of a child of God. That’s a constant reminder that I need to give myself.
I also need to remember that we are all beautiful in our own way, and that being different from others is okay. From a young age, I was taught that God made us all special, each of us being unique to one other, and that that’s the way He intended us to be. As I got older and more self conscious of my appearance to others, it was easy to forget that. At one point, I let that truth fully slip from my fingers, and let depression take its place. Part of my recovery is believing in that statement again.
Although social media isn’t the only area in which I struggle with image, it’s definitely at the top of the list. That little voice inside my head listing off all those lies, that’s the devil, and until I let God in to fully take control in that area, those lies will be broadcasted to me every day. So knowing this, I need to spend less time on worrying about how perfect the world thinks I am, and spending more time thanking God for the girl He created me to be.
What the bible has to say about: comparison to others
“For am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ.” (HCSB)
In this verse, Paul is writing to the church of Galatia. He informs them that they have a choice, to live to please the world, or to serve God. He makes it clear that we cannot do both. We, as followers of Christ, need to fully surrender our life to Him, and to do so we cannot worry about how we appear to others.
1 Samuel 16:7
“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.”
Before I really opened my heart to God and what He has to say to me, I usually avoided most of the old testament. I felt like I couldn’t learn anything in them that I could apply to my life, because a lot of the text is stories about people and events before Jesus. What I didn’t realize was that if I ask God to show me what He wants me to hear, than I can learn from any part of the bible.
The verse above is very meaningful to me. Although it is from the old testament, and was directly spoken to Samuel, it can be applied to our lives forever. God told Samuel that although people judge appearance and what is seen on the surface, He judges the heart. We often spend too much time worrying about our outward appearance. But if we want to be faithful and worship God with every fiber of our being, we should be working on mending our hearts.
Tips and tidbits about social media*
- Limit social media usage to help prevent comparison society’s standard of “perfect”
- Spend the extra time that would be spent on social media thanking God for what He has given. Spend time basking in the glory of His creation instead (spending time with family/friends, going outside, etc.)
- Reminding yourself that “my value is not defined by someone else’s inability to see my worth”
*These tips and tidbits are specific to me and my life. Although they may work for the reader, I am not a professional in this area. These are merely suggestions that may or may not work for anyone.