For the last two years, I’ve been trapped in a vicious cycle. I have a horrible habit of deleting and re-downloading my social media platforms, specifically Instagram and TikTok. Usually, the deleting happens after a frenzy of comparison and negative self-talk. I set myself up for this every time. I sit in my bed in my sweatpants with no makeup and a bag of salt and vinegar chips glued to my left hand. I will then scroll for hours, comparing myself to beautiful women who are traveling the world, living their best life. I proceed to get up, see myself in the mirror, and pick myself to pieces. I am comparing my unedited life to a stranger’s wide angle, highlight reel. As a result, I delete my TikTok and Instagram after a good cry. I realize comparison is depriving me of joy, but I succumb to this pattern every few months.
I will then announce to my friends that I’ve deleted social media. I tell everyone and myself that I am going to work on self love. I say this proudly, and I almost believe it. I’ll start running more, making cute healthy snacks, and maybe I’ll even do a few face masks. Somehow, I deem that self-care.
When I don’t have those social media platforms, I usually don’t notice that they are gone. I have more time for things I enjoy, such as painting, movies, and reading. So, you would think my life is better without social media. You’re probably right. For that reason, I can’t really explain why I re-download Instagram or TikTok every few months. Maybe it’s because of FOMO? Maybe I like the validation that comes from posting something? Maybe I really am a mindless gen z who is addicted to social media? Your guess is as good as mine.
I know social media hurts me and my mental health. I know it leads me to compare myself to other women, feeling somewhat inadequate as I put my phone down every night. I do have control over this, though. I still follow the girls that I relentlessly compared myself to in high school. I follow supermodels who I obviously look nothing like. I have the recipe for making social media healthy. Follow body-positive creators. Unfollow those who don’t make you feel good. I really should take my own advice. On the other hand, I fear that I will still find women to compare myself to even if I unfollow individuals who distract me from my self-love goal. Social media is this large oasis that swallows up my confidence. I have a lifeboat and a map to shore, but I sit in the waves and sink.
I know this is different from what HerCampus generally writes. We love to give advice, recommendations, and our opinion. I wrote this article to show that I don’t always have answers. I don’t have it all together like my articles might suggest. I am struggling to figure out this cycle as probably many of you are. For once, let’s sit in this uncertainty together.