This week, I have written a little bedtime story about comparing yourself to other people’s social media posts. It’s one of many stories I could have chosen. It’s a work of semi-fiction. As they say at the end of a television drama, it is based on events that really happened.
If you know someone who is feeling a bit inadequate right now – because we all have those times, don’t we? – then please share this post with them. Because it might help them to stop comparing their behind the scenes with other people’s highlight reels.
She reads her friend’s shocking social media post. Who would have thought?…
She remembers that friend’s gorgeous posts less than 18-months ago. So many stunning, happy, loved up pictures of her and her new husband? She remembers the picture when they were lying on a sun-soaked golden beach, the crystal-clear sea glinting in the sunshine behind them. He was always giving her expensive presents. She remembers some of the pictures of the designer handbags, the huge bouquets of flowers.
Oh… What a perfect life. What a perfect couple!
She would sigh to herself and imagine what it must be like to be so deeply in those first stages of romantic love. What an amazing man her friend had met, how blessed and blissful her life is.
She thinks about her own husband of 15 years, a bit wrinkled around the edges, a bit squidgy around the middle. How he rarely buys her flowers and when he does, they are more likely to be a bunch of geraniums from the local petrol station when he’s feeling guilty. She can’t remember the last time she frolicked on a tropical beach with him and posed for selfies. Actually, she doesn’t think she’s ever frolicked with him on a tropical beach, although they once had a nice walk along Skegness beach – it was a bit windy, though.
In fact, the last time she was on the beach in the sunshine, she was running after her 3-year old and her 6-year old, trying to make sure they didn’t leg it into the sea whenever her back was turned, and trying to apply sun cream on their wriggling sandy bodies, pleading with them to stay still for just 30 seconds.
A few months after the frolicking beach photos, she sees that her friend is pregnant. She looks with envy at the selfies of her growing bump. And oh, what a neat bump it is. Her bump was never this neat-looking. And how has her friend kept her figure so trim, her hair so glossy, right through to month 9?
Then the baby is born and she sees regular photos of the most gorgeous little boy and his mum in poses of endless bliss. They have so much time to do so many lovely things together. She thinks of the chaos of her life – the military operation every morning to get the kids up, one to nursery and one to school. It’s relentless, exhausting.
And then, when the baby is one year old, she reads a long post that shocks her:
In this post, her “friend with the perfect husband, perfect baby and perfect life” reveals that her new husband had been sleeping with her best friend. Before she became pregnant.
The friend discovered the betrayal when she was just 2 months pregnant. Turns out, that she’d split up with her husband before her baby was born. She has been through labour, childbirth and learning to be a mum by herself. She has suffered heartbreak, humiliation, anger, anguish, loneliness and goodness knows what else. All those beautiful pregnancy and baby pictures – they hid so much pain.
And to think, she wished she were her. She thought her own life was so miserable, in comparison. Suddenly, her husband of 15 years with his sporadic attempts at being romantic didn’t seem so bad.
She had compared herself to her lovely friend and found her own life lacking. But she hadn’t been party to the heart-breaking story that was being played behind the happy pictures.
The “moral” of this story…
Next time you look at a social media post or photo of your friends and find yourself thinking:
- She’s having so much more fun in her life than I am
- She’s so much more successful than I am
- They have so many more holidays than I do
- She’s so much more beautiful than me
- He’s so much more popular than I am
- Their kids are so much more accomplished than mine
Remember that you don’t know WHAT is going on behind the picture-perfect life. The camera DOES lie – it shows just a moment in time. People tend to highlight their success and their joy on social media. Nobody has a perfect life.
The quote “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind” should be your mantra when you find yourself going into comparisonitis.
And let’s add a bit extra to that quote:
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. And be kind to yourself, whilst you’re at it!”