I used to follow this girl on Instagram. She was from my hometown, around my age and drop-dead gorgeous. She knew it, too. She would post scandalous selfies daily and pretend to be surprised when people called her pretty. Don't get me wrong, I'm not judging. If I took a picture where I looked half as good as most of the ones she posted I would plaster it on every social media I could. I followed her for motivation. I followed her in hopes of seeing someone like that every day would make me work out or get ready more than twice a week. However, in reality, it just sent my self-confidence downhill.
But we all know it doesn't stop there. I was looking at these adventure pages or traveling blogs feeling like I was boring for not doing the same. It's like I forgot to take into consideration that working and being a full-time student doesn't really allow me to pick up and leave at any given time. I was comparing myself to the other girls at school who went and partied all the time while I was drowning or school. Or couples in cute relationships, when I was happily single. In reality, I didn't want to party on a Wednesday night or be in a relationship, but social media has a way of playing with your mind like that.
So, I unfollowed her. Then I started unfollowing all the other sites that made me self-conscious. I soon realized how much of my life I compared to social media. There was only one thing I could do, I had to get rid of it.
I'm not going to lie, it was very difficult at first, but it taught me a lot about myself. It taught me how superficial I had been. I recognized how much content I had been posting to make myself look interesting or cool. I had been giving up living in the moment just to make sure everyone else knew the amazing moments I was a part of.
It showed me the value of thinking. I know that sounds weird, but when you're sitting at a stoplight or in a waiting room without any phone to occupy you, you need to do something with your time. Instead of scrolling through Instagram, I'd think about good memories or the people in my life. I became such a happier person.
If you're not ready to give social media up, don't force it. It was best for me to quit cold turkey, but I understand that's not for everyone. So instead, here's my challenge to you: Try and replace screen time with real-life moments. Try carrying around a book or journal so when you have a period of downtime you have something else to occupy your mind that actually helps you grow. If you have a really cool experience, then put your phone in your pocket and don't use it again until you're done.
When you're with your friends be with your friends. Enjoy the tangible things in life instead of the digital ones. Don't let your world pass by being so focused on everyone else's. When you're retired and sitting on your front porch, I promise you that you won't be reminiscing about how many followers you had in college. Make your memories, make your stories and make your real-life presence better than your virtual one.