We are all aware that Instagram and other social media platforms are breeding grounds for yucky feelings of inadequacy, comparison, and self-doubt. Scrolling through feeds of matching frat party outfits, spontaneous road trips, or weekly girl brunches (complete with mimosas and tiny jam jars) in college is something that we are all too familiar with. Feeling bad about your own feed and losing touch with your totally amazing, unique life has thankfully been recognized as a problem with the rise of social media, and people are starting to recognize when they compare themselves to others on social media and how they can beat it. Something that hasn’t been talked about, though, is self-critique about our past insta posts, selfies, and statuses.
Just the other week, I found myself going back through my Instagram to earlier years of high school when I was hanging out with my friends, cheering at football games, and traveling with my family. I got a pit in my stomach and found myself being jealous of my past self. Was I happier back then? Have I changed? Am I worse at editing and taking pictures? WHO HAVE I BECOME!?? A mental spiral of inadequacy consumed me. My recent accomplishments, events, relationships, and achievements were now not enough. I started thinking how much “happier” I was in the past, or how much “better” I was. I even became sour towards my recent posts, comparing them to past pics. I texted my friend almost in tears, explaining my train of thought, and the doom that had built up in the past 20 mins of stalking myself on Instagram (this makes me sound like such a drama queen— oh wait, I kinda am a drama queen).
My friend had to stop herself from sending 15 laughing emojis. She couldn’t believe that I was seriously getting FOMO from my past. She helped me realize all the nonperfect things that were going on at those times in my life I was envying and helped me identify all the positive and amazing things in my present life, neither of which were found in the pics on my Instagram. We forget that, as much as we can say otherwise, our Instagrams are curated. We tend to post only what we want others to see. Women’s Health Magazine editor Kristin Canning has a mantra that she repeats whenever hopping on the gram: “Instagram is a resume, not a diary”. This can help us to not only avoid comparing ourselves to our friends or strangers, but also to ourselves.
Feeling resentment towards your past is a tricky thing, and going back on your insta may not help it either. To avoid this confusing feeling, question your motives before going back on your Instagram. If you are looking for self-pity, maybe it’s not a good idea. If you’re looking to appreciate your accomplishments and bask in the sweet memories of duck faces and sunsets, go right ahead. Give yourself a reality check if you ever feel like I did when stalking your own posts— realize who you are today is more important and squash that self critique. In fact, give your past self some double taps, or maybe even comment a heart eyes emoji!