SELF GROWTH IN THE AGE OF PERFECT POOLSIDE PICTURES

art:  john holcroft  

swipe.

swipe.

scroll.

like.

That’s how I spent my spring break, lying in bed at home, scrolling my life away.

Pictures of people I know from high school on Instagram going on lavish trips to Europe, pictures of my friends getting ready for festivals, pictures of beautiful girls in gorgeous, designer swimwear next to glistening pools that come with their Airbnb. I can’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy when I see these photos, wishing that I could also live this way, and have an incredibly fun spring break for my senior year of college.

Instead, I'm a broke, twenty-one year old student. It seems like everyone in my age group is moving monumentally faster than me, as far as I can see with their Bali vacations posted on Facebook and extravagant birthday parties that are fit for celebrities. I feel like shit. How did these people I know, that I went to high school with, turn out to have the perfect lives while I spend all my time trying to figure out how to get a job and imagining a timeline where I can afford to eat something other than Nature Valley bars for lunch (there are too many crumbs!). I sound bitter, but I feel like a loser. This feeling isn’t exclusive. More young people than ever are using social media, and young people have an exaggerated, more beautiful, and more interesting image of their peers at the tip of their fingertips.  

Ok, deep breath. Everyone is not magically doing “better” than you.

Firstly, Instagram does not show you the bad days. Unbeknownst to you, your peers are going through horrible break-ups, getting impromptu zits right before job interviews, and failing physics tests. They’re going through depressive episodes just like you, and also likely having an existential crisis about what they’re doing after college, or maybe they’re not even in college. You don’t actually know the fine details of these people’s lives.

Secondly, and more importantly, it does not matter. There is no competition for anyone to have the most liked #OOTD pictures, the cutest couple photos in a pumpkin patch, or the most comments on a clearly retouched “I Woke Up Like This” picture. Unless you’re a celebrity making bank off of sponsoring dangerous dieting teas, you gain virtually nothing real from having great posts on your social media. And people your age doing better than you financially? Don’t fret, your time will come. By the way, a lot of them are getting money from their parents. You can’t let yourself feel bad about things that are out of your control!

Self growth is liking the picture of your friend in the Bahamas and feeling happy for them. Just kidding, that’s really hard and you can’t believe Sarah left in the middle of the semester to take a vacation while you have to spend the entire weekend writing a research paper about The Epic of Gilgamesh?! Self growth is seeing the picture, feeling whatever you feel, and then letting it go. Not letting it hang over your head so it can prevent you from doing your work and the things that you love. Self growth is staying off social media until you feel like you’re in a good place mentally. Self growth is deleting the Instagram app for a bit and going to the movies with your best friends and eating pizza after. You deserve to be grounded in reality and live your life, not live through other people’s perfectly curated photos in your feed. Go outside and get ingredients for a new dish you wanna make tonight! Get some friends to a bookstore and read new novels! Make some lemonade! Collect leaves and flowers! Buy a donut and yell at a pigeon!

Afsana AhmedComment