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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northwestern chapter.

Instagram is a highlight reel of everybody’s lives. People put their best face forward online. You’ll normally find a positive and visually appealing feed (if you avoid high school homecoming pictures). It may seem overwhelming but who knows how many pictures were taken behind the scenes to get that one perfect photo? Social media comparison is a real struggle that can occur every time we log online.

Right now, social media can be a fun break from the day-to-day classes and homework. It’s easy to just scroll and unwind. Students now are even more stressed than normal because of the pandemic and navigating campus life. Social media can be a way to voice your opinions, feelings, catch up or just see some cute pictures of your friends back home. Especially in a virtual world, we need the connection.

The dangers of social media are still prevalent though. For mental health, it is essential to keep positive affirmations about your own worth; social media can damage your health through something like body image distortion. We want our lives to reflect the glamorous or perfect image we see online, even if that snapshot was never an attainable goal to begin with.

The pandemic makes this comparison even worse. We are all adjusting to life under COVID. Even a year in, our lives have changed so much it’s hard to figure out. For everybody who just moved on campus, maybe for the first time, everything is new. We want to be as safe as possible, while also making friends and having a social life. For most people, that’s not an easy balance. Whenever we see somebody on Instagram having a totally different experience, it can hurt our well-being.

Back home for me is a different world. COVID is not being taken seriously by the universities. Many of my old high school classmates are still traveling and going to parties and sports games. Seeing them post on social media is hard; they seem to be carefree and having fun. Even if we accept the fact that this is a pandemic where we need to be responsible, it is still reasonable to be sad about it.

We can’t compare our college experience to anybody else; it is unique to us. During this time, it’s important to give ourselves time and understanding. Just because somebody back home is out with all their friends doesn’t mean they aren’t still struggling with college too. We are in a pandemic; safety is a big priority. Remind yourself that you are protecting others and could potentially be saving lives. Find happiness in the little things and the connections you do make and remember it will get better.

Anna Smith

Northwestern '24

Anna Smith is a freshman from Springfield, Missouri studying Social Policy at Northwestern. She loves coffee shops, her dog, and trying new experiences.