“This above all: to thine own self be true” – William Shakespeare
I consider myself lucky to have grown up during a time when Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr didn’t exist. I think if I had, I would’ve been a lot more insecure than I already was during my teenage years. I can’t imagine what it’s like for adolescent girls and boys in this day and age where it is so prevalent to constantly keep up appearances on social media and at school…
Today, I want to discuss how comparing yourself to another can take away from who you really are. I want to highlight just how easy it is to get swept up in a stranger’s life and lose your identity in the process. Let me demonstrate with a hypothetical scenario:
Imagine you meet a girl or find her on social media…let’s call her Penny and she is a glowing, radiant ball of sunlight. Her optimism is infectious, her beauty is effortless and she is an all-round talented individual. You don’t get jealous of her but rather become her biggest fan. You stalk her on social media, you want to please her and you try to be more like her because you are in such awe of the perfect specimen she is. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? You find that as the months go by, you are replicating her behaviour and trying to present yourself in the same way she does; hoping that if you do, you will be validated like she is. What you end up finding however, is that you can never measure up (in your eyes) and become more and more obsessed until you realise you’ve completely forgotten who you are and what makes you special. Do you really like drinking green tea or do you drink it because she does? Do you really love that song or is it because she played it in her last YouTube video? You begin questioning the possessions you bought because you only purchased them to be like her. You begin reevaluating the clothes you wear because she wore them in her recent Instagram photo. You find it harder and harder to separate yourself from her. This may sound like an extreme example but it’s true and it happens every single day to so many influential girls that follow celebrities, models, Instagrammers, YouTubers and even close friends.
I am guilty of having this obsession in the past. I wanted so badly to be like somebody else that I started to forget the amazing, talented, wonderful, special individual that I already was. I changed my behaviour and started imitating this person until I realised I was becoming so disconnected from who I was, it actually made me anxious. I needed to take a break and find myself again…
As the quote says: ‘comparison is the thief of joy.’ Having felt it before, I can honestly say it is a horrible feeling that can drag you down. I will confess however, that I have never been the type to say ‘oh well I’m sure she fights with her boyfriend’ or ‘I am sure she hates something about her body’ just to make myself momentarily feel better. It is not a peaceful way of living to put somebody else’s life down and we should always try to be happy for others and want the best for them.
There is nothing wrong with admiring somebody else or becoming a better person because of their influence but when it gets to the stage where you are no longer being authentic, it’s time to take a step back and reassess who you are outside of this person. Here are some ways to be true to yourself:
- The way I have coped with comparison in the past is to throw myself back into the things I love before I even met that person. That is how I know I am being true to who I am. Writing is the one thing I always come back to. I have loved reading and writing since I was a child and when I sit down to type, I feel that rush of warmth inside that says ‘ahhh this is 100% you and it feels so right.’ Make a list of all the things you loved long before these feeling started. These are things that your closest friends and family would answer if asked the question ‘what is (insert your name here) hobbies/interests?’ Once your list is made, reconnect with those things whether it is dancing, painting, cooking, listening to a certain band and more. Happiness will come flooding in as you return home to yourself.
- Write down all the things that make you unique and special. What quirks do you have that set you apart from everybody else? What talents do you have that you aren’t sharing with the world? Something like ‘I hate apples but love everything apple-flavoured’ may sound small and insignificant but that is one part of a million other parts that make up the incredible being that you are. Embrace it all, big or small!
- Ask your family, friends, partner, colleagues what they love about you. You will find a lot of them will say the same thing (e.g ‘you’re so funny’) which proves you have defining traits that shine through to everybody else. Cherish them!
- If it is a celebrity, model or even an individual you found on social media, don’t be afraid to distance yourself if need be. It’s not that this person has done anything wrong but whilst you find yourself again and recover from your obsession, you may need to take some time out. In fact, take a break from all social media during this vulnerable period. This is for your own sanity so don’t feel guilty.
- Be honest with yourself. Investigate why you became so caught up in this person to begin with. Do you wish to express yourself more creatively? Do you wish to look healthier? Do you wish to have more adventures? You can do all of those things but do them your way. For example, Penny runs in order to get fit but you hate running. Find an exercise that you absolutely love and get healthy that way. Don’t run just because she does. We are all different and we need to celebrate that.
- Read my blog post ‘We Make Our Own Luck’ and invest in the 3 self-love books I mention by Christine Arylo. You will go on an unforgettable journey with yourself that will change your life forever. By the end you won’t want to be anybody other than you!
- Do a Monthly ‘I Love Me’ Challenge. I’m planning on doing one next month just to refresh how far I have come and to reconnect with me again. I haven’t been able to find a good one online so I might create my own which suits me personally (see…be true to you!)
- It’s very easy to dislike a body part of your own and see a ‘better’ version of it on someone else. The key here is not to get jealous but rather get motivated. If Penny’s thighs are perfectly toned and yours are a bit soft, don’t put her down or wish for her thighs. Create a healthier version of your thighs by exercising and eating healthy. The power is within you. If it’s something you cannot change like the colour of your skin or the shape of your nose, you can focus on the external parts you do like. Over time, you will learn to love it all…
- If you can see a younger person comparing themselves to another, remind them of how wonderful they are. Engage them in an activity they love to do. Highlight a beautiful bodily characteristic of theirs. You may save somebody from losing themselves too. Remind them of that Dr Seuss quote: ‘Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than you!’
I apologise if this post became very deep, I really just wanted to express how important it is to be true to yourself. In a world full of social media, peer pressure and insecurities, it is so easy to convince yourself that somebody else has it all and you don’t but this isn’t true. Their lives are their own and your life is what you make it. You are worthy, you are beautiful, you are special and most of all, you are you! There is no better person to be!
Peace & Love xoxo