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Comparison Culture in College

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

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced since coming to college is becoming okay with having alone time. Before living in a dorm, I spent plenty of time by myself at home and never had a problem with it, but moving into a place where my school and living environments meshed led me to believe that I needed to be around others as much as possible or I felt like I was “doing something wrong.” Any time I didn’t have dinner plans with friends or ran out of things to do with people on the weekends, I’d start getting down on myself because I thought I wasn’t where I needed to be. I began to dislike being alone because I used being with others as a sense of self-validation.

A huge contributor to comparison culture is social media. This is largely because the images that people use to portray themselves online show off glorified versions of their lives, so it’s easy to feel worse about yourself when comparing your life to said images. The truth is, it doesn’t make sense to compare a highlight from someone else’s life to the entirety of your own, because you have no idea what they may be experiencing behind the scenes that they’re choosing not to share online. I think that a lot of us are guilty of making our lives on social media look a lot more glamorous and exciting than they are in real life. Even when we are satisfied with our lives, it’s easy to see what someone else is doing and suddenly feel like what we have is inadequate. Thus, we contribute to this sphere of influence by posting things to make our lives look better in comparison to others, which even more people then see and compare themselves to, perpetuating this cycle.

It’s so easy to see the people we’re living around (whether it be online or in person) constantly thriving with their friends and think that we need to be just as busy as them to “measure up,” when sometimes it’s best for us to let go of our plans and just allow ourselves to be alone for a bit. Alone time can be an incredibly valuable space to recharge and reground ourselves, but it’s so easy to instead demonize and fear long periods of this time because of the environment we’re placed in.