The lonely pursuit of self-confidence

My relationship with social media is rocky to say the least, and my relationship with my own self-confidence…let’s just say that will always be ‘under construction’. It’s not difficult to see how these two go hand-in-hand in the most anxiety-inducing pairing that, although can connect you to your best friend 5000 miles away, can sometimes be the reason you spend countless days doubting yourself.

Spending time on social media generates a rapid increase in my anxiety as I constantly feel like I am not doing or being enough, compared to other people. Tish Weinstock’s recent article in Vogue interviewed Dr Adrian Meier, a professor of communication science, who argued that “social comparison is deeply ingrained in our psyches,” we are desperate “to know how we’re doing compared to our peers” – it’s an incredibly harmful yet inevitable human trait.

I won’t be the first to say that spending time on social media makes me compare my current life to my Instagram feed: my monotonous life in my parents’ house vs people working in their dream jobs, colourful clothes, city life, picturesque plates of fresh pasta; whatever it is, social media always seems to show you what you don’t have…yes, even if that is fresh ravioli.

When the pressure to be productive becomes too much, I do what I have been designed to since March last year, I walk it off. I have been thinking about social media; if I didn’t have the apps, then I couldn’t know what other people were doing, and for better or worse, I would only know the pace of my own life.

But, I know this is not sustainable and it will never happen because there are times when I love social media. I love hyping up my friends, connecting with them when miles apart. I love the artistry behind Instagram, the feeds, the colours; I enjoy photography and sharing my life online. So if I am so certain to keep Instagram in my life, why don’t I make a conscious effort to fix my relationship with social media?

In my wavering journey to find self-confidence, I have found that bad days are inevitable, but it’s what you do on those bad days that mark the journey as progressive, not regressive. The first thing I do is journal my thoughts in a big brain dump. Reading my thoughts back on other rough days is that little bit of solidarity with myself that acts as my anchor. A really hot shower just helps with everything too. Then, I call a friend, to share my worries or to forget them entirely, I centre myself in life that is tangible. I forget the productivity race for just a moment and call a timeout on the incessant self-doubt.

In these moments, I think it’s important to turn to self-reflective questions, away from the falsities of social media: what are you proud of? Remind yourself that you are doing the very best for yourself every day, whether that is having a shower, running 5k, changing your bed sheets or sending an email you’ve been putting off for ages. You deserve to love yourself unconditionally; it’s the manifestations and affirmations that begin your journey to self-confidence – believe in them!

Image: Jon Tyson via Unsplash