“Jealousy is all the fun you think they had.”
I love that quote by American writer Erica Jong.
We all do it. From time to time, most of us have felt that our “friends” on social media seem to be living a better, more exciting or easier life than we are.
Whether it’s seeing Instagram photos of their holiday to a dream destination, their glamorous wedding, their immaculately dressed and perfectly behaved children, their impeccable home or a Facebook status update proclaiming love to their “perfect” partner, we’ve all felt The Green Eyed Monster sneak in from time to time.
We compare those photos or words to whatever we’re doing in that moment – which is usually just going about everyday life, filled with work, looking after kids, paying bills and housework. It is so easy for your mindset to spiral into one of comparison and self pity.
Keep in mind that any photo is literally just a millisecond of their day. No one’s life is perfect, no matter how many ‘likes’ they attract. Appreciate the image for what it is – hopefully a genuinely happy and memorable moment for them, but keep in mind that it’s not necessarily telling the full story. A few years ago I went on a holiday with my husband and another couple. The other couple fought and bickered the entire time. It was exhausting to be around! At one stage she asked me to take a photo of them in front of a picturesque view and they wrapped their arms around each other and smiled. It was the first bit of affection they’d showed each other the entire trip. She quickly posted the photo with a caption raving about her amazing holiday with her perfect man. In fact, the reality had been the complete opposite! It was a good lesson for me not to believe everything I see on social media. Our brain tends to fill in the gaps and presume that one perfect picture means they have a perfect life. Total myth!
If we’re honest, most of us have done it ourselves – posted holiday pics, with no mention of the crazy credit card debt the trip left us in. A roadtrip that looks fun and exciting, and leaving out the fact the car broke down on the way home. Or posting a photo of our newborn looking adorable in an adorable tiny outfit – your followers don’t know that behind the camera you are still in your pyjamas at 4pm, haven’t showered for three days and are feeling pretty isolated in this new stage, stressing over whether you’re doing everything right as a new mum.
If we remember that social media is just a “highlight reel”, it goes a long way to ending those feelings of envy. We all have highlights, and we all have moments we’d rather delete forever!
Writing this, I was reminded of another quote I love: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” The best thing we can all do is teach ourselves to find real joy in the simple moments of our own lives, which we all know usually happen away from a phone or ipad screen.