I asked a friend if she’d seen a photo of a mutual friend on Instagram. She said something like, “No. All I see in his feed is how perfect things are and how many friend he has. It makes me feel jealous.” She paused for the shortest moment and then followed up with, “I unfollowed him. I just couldn’t do it.”
I was really struck by this— both by her honesty in how social media makes her feel as well as her ability to take action to protect herself from those negative feelings.
Her struggle is very familiar to me. It’s easy for me to look at what everyone else is doing, and how they’re succeeding at everything — according to their social media presence — and feel pretty bad about my life, my work, and how far I am from where I want to be.
It’s easy to turn to social media when I’m feeling the difficulty of creating something that matters.
Work worth doing is hard and risky work. Social media can feel like a nice distraction at times, but it never helps me. It leaves me feeling sad, depressed, lacking worth and significance, and devaluing myself, my gifts, and my abilities. The harder task is to face the difficulty of my work— the risk and challenge it requires of me.
I’ve learned to keep my eyes on my own work.
The picture I have in my mind is classroom of 3rd graders sitting at a table with blank paper in front of them. The teacher invites them to draw/color. Some kids jump right in, but other kids are too anxious about what others are doing to actually lose themselves in the process. Instead of focusing on what they’re creating, they look at what everyone else is up to.
Focus on your work, not on the work of those around you. Use social media in ways that help you feel connected and supported. Don’t use it when it creates jealousy and envy. Unfollow as needed. Take breaks. Delete accounts. You get to make up your rules.
Create a good space for you and your creative process— with or without social media.
You have something to say. You have something to work out. You have something to create. So create it. Say it. Draw it. Paint it. Build it. Write it. Make it. Curate it. Compose it. Dance it.
Don’t let comparison steal your best work.
In the comments, I’d love to hear how social media influences you in good and bad ways. How do you deal with the comparison and envy that can creep in? Click here to comment. We all want to hear your voice.