The Linkedin Effect: How to Navigate the Feeling of Needing to Succeed

            As an avid user of LinkedIn, and a self-acclaimed #girlboss, I am no stranger to the feeling that we all get when we open our feed. Scrolling through endless announcements of your classmates and colleagues landing an amazing new internship, starting their dream job, or winning the best award, it is hard to not feel as though you are falling behind in some way. Whatever awesome thing you are currently working on does not seem to be nearly enough compared to what you see on LinkedIn. As a freshman at Northwestern getting ready to head into the summer, I am among you all in feeling as though I need to be doing something productive with my time off—the grind never seems to stop for students here. However, I am here to tell you the one thing you’ve been dying to hear:

YOU DO NOT NEED TO WORRY ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING RIGHT NOW. AS LONG AS YOU ARE DOING WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY, THAT IS ENOUGH.

            Yes, you heard me right. Contrary to popular belief, summer is a time to rest and relax. They give us a quarter break for a reason, and although it is encouraged to seek out work opportunities in your junior and senior year, many tend to worry about it very early. As much as I endorse being a #girlboss, do not be ashamed to just take the summer to recover from your first year at college.

            If you are someone like me, where you are completely happy doing five hundred million different things and never sleeping, that is great too. If you are given an awesome opportunity to do something super productive and cool with your summer, take it. But if this does not apply to you, you should not feel bad about it. Everyone needs time to figure out what they want to do with their lives—that is what makes us human. Everyone needs to take time to focus on themselves. So, knowing this, how do we cope with networking on LinkedIn and not feeling bad about ourselves?

            My first tip may seem obvious, but if you get easily discouraged by what you see online, just don’t go on social media and networking apps. Plain and simple. So many people live their lives without phones and LinkedIn accounts (contrary to popular belief), so it will not kill you just to take some time away from these apps. That way, you can stop comparing yourself to others and start working on what is best for you.

            If you are someone who cannot stand to take time away from social media, set some reminders for yourself when scrolling. I like to keep them as my lock screen, so every time I open my phone to check my LinkedIn, I keep myself grounded in reality. One of my favorite ones to share with people is that you are doing your best, so why compare yourself to others? Everyone has a different version of doing their best, so do not feel the need to compare yours to theirs. As long as you are giving the most effort that you can, that is good enough. Even if it is not one hundred percent effort all of the time, it is still better than giving up because you do not feel as though what you are doing holds as much value as what someone else is doing.

            Lastly, surround yourself with people who have the right mindsets and positive attitudes. If you keep seeing someone post things that make you feel bad about yourself, why are you following them? Set realistic expectations for yourself by connecting with your friends and family—those who are guaranteed to raise you up instead of bringing you down. That way, when you eventually do land that killer internship or dream job, you are surrounded by a support system filled with positivity.  

            So next time you open LinkedIn, just remember that you are doing your best. Do not worry about having the most connections or what is displayed on your profile. Doing what makes you happy is the most important thing that you can do for yourself, and do not let what you see on social media discourage you from pursuing what is best for you.