I realize I could use a membership to Planet Fitness, and yeah, maybe I visit the bakery section of Kroger a little too often. I am pretty sure one of those Sour Patch Kids is coming into my room each night and trimming my hair because it is just not growing. I can easily rap more Drake lyrics than recite what I (could) have learned in Italian this year.
In case this wasn't obvious from the above, I am not perfect. I am flawed to say the very least. This should come as no surprise, yet we all find it too easy to judge one another on a daily basis without giving it a second thought. In the past few years, social media has dramatically increased its pull with users all around the globe while simultaneously giving us another resource on which to base our perceptions.
People are so damn judgmental. From family members to strangers, people assume they are well-versed enough to chime in on every little thing (regardless of how much they actually know). After announcing to family and friends my career path, their responses were not what I had anticipated. To accurately sum up my reaction, I will share my dermatologist's words during my last visit, "Oh, wow."
I'm embarrassed to admit it is not out of the ordinary for me to spend a large chunk of my day scrolling through Instagram, sweeping through Facebook and checking Twitter. We pay more attention to our number of followers and filter choices instead of things that actually matter. Ever since I got to college, I keep thinking, "I wish I had time to do this or that." Instead of sending an old friend a text message to remind them I care or picking up that book I have been trying to finish for the past two months, I find myself opening up Twitter and scrolling endlessly without second thought.
Now don't get me wrong — I am eternally thankful for social media. It helps us keep in contact with loved ones near and far. The Internet serves as a valuable resource for news, music and events. But somewhere along the lines, we have become dependent on social media for perceptions of ourselves and others. We often say, "Don't judge a book by it's cover," yet we can scroll through a person's Instagram gallery or Twitter updates and feel like we have a good sense of who they truly are. Think again.
Nineteen-year-old student Madison Holleran had a seemingly perfect life. She had a large, loving family in New Jersey and the opportunity to continue her love for track as an athlete during her freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania. Her Instagram was dusted with pictures of beautiful backdrops and nights out with friends. But what wasn't pictured was the anxiety Madison battled before running off the top of a parking garage last winter.
When spending a Friday night scrolling through various social media accounts of our peers, one thing we do not consider is the reliability of the source. In school, we are taught to make sure we always have a reliable source before believing or using the source to build on. We aren't supposed to believe everything we see. I don't know about you but I would never post anything on social media that portrays something I'm not proud of. Why would any of us post self-incriminating evidence that we are anything short of perfect?
I started my freshman year of college knowing exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to teach. Anything else seemed dull in comparison. I ended my freshman year of college having changed my major four times. Now do not get me wrong; money is great. What is not great is living in a society where success is measured in dollar amount rather than sheer dedication and passion. It is of little concern to me that I have changed my major numerous times and may have to spend another semester in college. I would rather spend extra time and money in college and have a career I love than spend a lifetime on a career I have little or no attachment to. By studying a subject you have no interest in, you are doing a disservice to yourself and those around you.
In Glamour UK, Taylor Swift discusses the impulse to stress over capturing a moment rather than simply basking in it. We live in a time where you are expected to have your most cherished moments documented. Now I am not about to go delete my Instagram or Twitter, and for Christ's sake, you are probably reading this thanks to a link on Facebook. My point here is to be able to recognize social media as it is, which, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary is: "forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and micro-blogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content."
Keep in mind, a person's social media account is made up of what they wish to share, not what all is actually going on in their life.
I encourage you to stop analyzing who is eating where and actually put your time to good use. Who are you to laugh at your classmate who strolls into class in pajamas? You are both trying to get an education, so why does it matter how they are dressed? Instead of worrying about everyone else, focus on yourself. At the end of the day, you are the one who ultimately has to live with the decisions you make, so why should anyone else get a say?
Here's to the guy at the Rec Center who surveyed (with judge-y eyes) my leg lifts, crunches, and planks. I was at the gym longer than you.