These are hard times people. Social media has come through and fucked up everyone’s life. In a world where everyone appears increasingly more accomplished and is simultaneously, increasing in youthfulness how do you find happiness in your own accomplishments instead of finding misery in comparison?
No, seriously. I’m asking an honest question here. I’m clueless.
We’re living in the YouTube era. There are six-year-olds making millions on YouTube by reviewing toys. When I was six I was too preoccupied with practicing my Britney Spears talent show tribute and trying to get my kindergarten crush to give me cooties so I could brag about being hugged by a boy. I didn’t win the talent show but my kindergarten crush, Josh, did hug me which meant I had cooties. I definitely wasn’t reviewing Malibu Barbie for a sponsored YouTube video post.
We’re living in the Instagram era, too. Every night I tell myself that I’ll be in bed by 10, lights off and snoozing. Instead, I end up poking through the endless feed of images, with my thumb scrolling its way past endless bikini-vacation and smoothie bowl pictures. With each YouTube video and sponsored Instagram post I find my self-confidence depleting byte by byte; asking myself the one existential question….”What the fuck have I been doing with my life?!”
I’m almost four years away from turning 30 and almost five years away from lying about my age at the bar so I can maintain my “Future MILF” potential. If I died tomorrow, what accomplishments could be listed at my funeral or on my gravestone?
Here lies Sarah Marie Kelly.
Best know as Kelly because everyone ignored her first name.
A lover of mashed potatoes and sarcasm.
She will be remembered for the number of comments she received about the size of her ass,
her love for her dog, Charlie
and how much she loved mashed potatoes.
I’m a part of a generation that’s become known for its staggering student loan debt, ability to kill department stores and increasing value of social media followings. For those of you wondering I have approximately 363 Instagram followers and I’m pretty sure that 40% of those accounts are spam dog accounts and 40% are Russian Instagram bots. Only 69 people watch my Instagram stories and, those are the real MVPs of my life. Thank you for watching all the videos of my dog. I appreciate the support.
We wake up in the morning and immediately turn on our phones to scroll through social media; checking the number of views or likes on our latest posts to get the dopamine rush so that we feel like we matter. But who do we matter to? Would anyone notice if I stopped posting videos of my dog on Instagram? Will anyone remember that your PR at the squat rack was more than Brad 2.0’s in 2015? Are people really happy that you finally took a picture in front of a French bistro and that you’re “Just so in love with Paris…Je Taime!”
Why are we comparing our lives to someone who is comparing their life to someone else? Instead of feeling happy and content, some of us are walking through the world feeling as though we’re drowning because our accomplishments will never buoy us up above the accomplishments of others.
Comparison can kill, and it does. Nothing will ever be good enough if we keep comparing our accomplishments to the staged accomplishments of someone else.
I’ve lived 25 years of my life comparing myself to other people. When I was little I compared the size of my body to my cousins. They were smaller and naturally slim, while my aunt would tell me that I was more “big boned”.
Why can’t I be small like her though? I’m too fat now.
When I was in middle school I would compare my clothes with the other kids in my school. Their parents could afford to buy them Abercrombie & Fitch polos while I was wearing t-shirts from Walmart.
At 22 I was comparing my job and living arrangements to other kids who had graduated with me.
She’s an engineer and just bought a house, why am I renting an apartment?
At 23 I was comparing my relationship status with my friends.
They just got engaged and they’ve been dating less than we have. How come I’m not engaged yet? I should have been engaged by now. When am I going to get married? Come on.
At 25 I spent my hours on earth comparing my life accomplishments to the life accomplishments of others. I tally up my “accomplishments” and tally up the accomplishments of strangers or friends and try to calculate who’s come out on top.
I love being on top…but I’m never on top when I’m comparing my life to someone else’s.
I’ve wasted hours of my life thinking that I’ve done nothing with my life, instead of spending my life realizing and appreciating my accomplishments. I’ve spent hours anxiously trying to assign some sort of karmic value to my accomplishments in the hopes that maybe my life won’t be as uneventful and miserable as it feels it is.
My life feels uneventful because I’ve wasted it on unequal comparisons. My body is not the body of my cousins. My clothes were not the clothes of my peers. My relationship was not the relationship of my friend. My accomplishments are not the accomplishments of anybody else. They’re my accomplishments. This is my life.
We’re living in a time where society places a higher value on the number of likes a picture of our ass can get than our life accomplishments. It’s a time where social followings can be monetized and likes are currencies; a time that has capitalized on our insecurities for money.
We’re living in a time where our insecurities can be blamed on a social media platform instead of ourselves. If you compare your life to the life of a stranger or that one kid from high school who’s already married with two kids, you’re going to be spending the rest of your life thinking that your not worthy of your own success, because success is personal and everyone defines it differently.
If I remove the comparison, I’ve managed to graduate high school and college with a Bachelor’s degree and am working on a Masters degree. I’ve moved myself to another state; worked as a technical writer, a marketing writer, and a secretary. I’ve created at least 10 marketing campaigns for various colleges in the country. I’ve helped create one incoming class of future dentists. I’ve adopted a fantastic little dog. I’ve cried in the shower alone but I’ve woken up many times and pulled myself together. I’ve had $7000 in my savings and I’ve had $300 in my savings. I have stock in a great company and a car that runs. I have a mom who loves me, a dad who loves me, two fantastic grandparents who are alive and kicking and a large family that loves me. I’ve come out as bisexual. I’ve traveled to another continent alone where I climbed up Notre Dame and walked alone along the Seine in Paris. I’ve surfed off of the coast of Portugal and I’ve watched my favorite band play in another country. I have friends in other countries and friends who love me here in Iowa that I literally met on Craigslist (Thank God it worked out because that could have been terrible). I have a stable job, an income, food that I can afford to buy, and luckily, medical insurance and a retirement fund.
Most importantly I’ve been blessed in my life to have the flexibility to grow at the age that I am. That’s an accomplishment. I’ve built a life that can breathe and contract with my decisions. Those are my accomplishments and they’re hard to compare exactly to someone else’s.
When I die, no one will remember the size of my ass (it has received a lot of very positive comments though and I am subtly proud of it…my ego feeds a little off of compliments about my physical appearance). No one will remember that I grew up wearing Walmart clothes or that I was still single or had only been to Europe ONE TIME by the age of 26. Instead, I would hope that when I die, I’ll be remembered for the value of my personality and loved by the people I valued.
Two things are certain in life: everyone will be born and everyone will die. What comes in between will be different for everyone and in the end, we all end up doing the same thing. As hard as it is, try not to place a value on your accomplishments because when you die, they might not be the things people remember about you. If we keep comparing our accomplishments to the size of the accomplishments of others, we’ll always feel small.
Although, I wouldn’t mind being remembered for the size of my ass in an age of Kardashian butts.
With lots of love and compassion,