I'm 18. I'm a freshman in college. I've traveled to different countries and different states. I'm opinionated but also a little shy. I'm sassy, sarcastic and pretty lazy. So what life lessons can I, an 18-year-old lazy girl in college, give you? You're probably thinking not that many. I'm still young and I still have a lot of experiences I need to go through, and I'm unqualified to advise others on how to live their lives. But, I can tell you the most important life lesson that I've learned so far: be yourself and love who you are.
How I came across this life lesson wasn't because of anyone in my life. Normally you hear the words "just be yourself" from friends, family, teachers, strangers, etc. Of course, I heard it from them, but it never really stuck. I knew that the lesson is important to know, but I hadn't learned it, I had only been told it. I finally learned the lesson when I went down a dark hole in my life.
I don't know when it started and I don't know when it ended, but I know that it happened. And it happened because I doubted who I was and I doubted my perception of myself.
Instagram is a huge media mogul and it has a lot of influence over people my age and companies and celebrities know that and use it to their advantage. Celebrities and social media influencers use Instagram as a platform to sell their lifestyle and different products. It's great for them, but it was bad for me.
I would follow different celebrity accounts and occasionally look at different social media influencers pages just to see how they were living their lives. But I didn't realize that it would be my downfall.
At first, it was fine. I would look at their pages and think oh wow, their life is amazing and wow, they're so beautiful/handsome. But these supposedly harmless thoughts turned into me hating myself. I would constantly compare my life to theirs and try to find different things that I could change about myself and my life to make it more similar to theirs. It ranged from exercising and trying different stretches to make myself taller to dressing a little differently. They were minor things, but they built up over time and it sort of created a ball of self-hate inside of me.
It was only until I reached rock bottom that I understood what I was doing to myself. I'm not even sure what my rock bottom was. All I know was that my thoughts changed from admiring them to self-loathing. Whenever I looked at their Instagram accounts, I would think I'm so ugly and my life is such shit and the only way that I can possibly be happy is by living their life. In retrospect, I was being an idiot. Social media influencers and celebrities live unrealistic lives. Us common folk dream about living their lives because it seems so perfect and luxurious. We think that it's the best life that there is to live. In reality, that's not the case.
Everyone's life is different and none of us have the same experiences. What qualifies as a good life for someone may not be the ideal life for someone else. Once I took a step back, I realized that I have an amazing life. It may not be social media influencer worthy, but it's still beautiful and fulfilling.
Overcoming that dark period of my life took a while, but I managed to crawl out of the hole little by little. First, I did a social media cleanse. I un-followed every single celebrity and social media influencer I had followed and made sure to get rid of any trace of them in my life. Then, I went on Pinterest. I created different boards dedicated to staying positive or motivated or just to boost my self-esteem. Doesn't sound like much, but it actually helped me a lot. Whenever I felt down about myself, I would go on Pinterest and look at everything I pinned and my mood would be switched around. I also started to appreciate the little things in life more. I'd look up at the sky more often instead of the ground and think about how beautiful it was.
It felt like I was sucking all the poison out of my life and filling it with medicine, and the result was a renewed sense of self and a more authentic me.
I started to understand what it meant to be yourself and to love yourself. No longer was I self-conscious in gym class or when I presented something. I felt more confident and more sure of myself than ever. My mindset changed about the different things that I did. I felt happier and I was in love with the world.
So, my advice to you is to own it. And I mean, really own it. Focus on yourself and becoming/being the best version of yourself. The second that you doubt yourself could lead to more doubt and then to self-hatred, like it did for me. Know who you are and never lose sight of it. Be you, the purest and most authentic version of you there is.