I'm trying to smile more

4 Jul 2020

In June I took a big step back from the being online so often, mostly with social media, and it's something I needed to do because I was spending hours and hours mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds, even when there was nothing new to see. I would find myself lost in comment threads, pulled into topics that are detrimental to my mental health and overall, I felt like I spent so much of my time dedicated to online spaces, that my offline spaces were suffering for it. 

A picture of a tattooed woman with purple hair smiling.

So I spent 30 days away from social media, keeping my accounts up, but not posting anything new, and not engaging in content I saw. Those 30 days have made such a bloody big difference, and it's, hopefully for the long-term, made me approach social media a little differently.

Something I noticed about my social media usage the most, was the way it was affecting me as an individual and my own sense of self. Being on social media frequently manages to really knock my confidence; they say comparison is the thief of joy, and I think it'd be safe to say I was a world class thief when it comes to comparison. 

Comparing lifestyles is one thing, we all know how easy it is to see something online or see the way someone lives, and wish we could have a bit of that. I get it all the time, mostly with people who manage to have completely tidy and perfect homes, or who own their own homes. There's a sense of "They have something I desperately want and I can't have" and that makes me feel like I'm less than. 

But more than that, the comparison became deeply more personal, because I would look at someone's personality traits, and how happy and outgoing people are, or how sweet and calm people can seem when online, or the way that people online could captivate whole groups of people and have hundreds and thousands of people agreeing with their way of thinking, to create a sort of online 'inner circle' around those people, that made me feel like my value as a human being was all but depleted. 

I don't have anything special to offer. I don't bring out the right emotions in people, I don't enthral people, I don't intrigue people, I don't influence people - and not in the sense of product reviews and influencing someone to go out and buy something, but in a way in which people can change others on a more human level -, I felt like not being able to do these things, made me less than.

And that's not to say I want to do those things, I don't particularly want to influence people and I don't particularly fancy the idea of having people hanging off my every word. But I compared myself, I made myself think I needed to be more like that to be loved and accepted as a human being; until I realised I don't.

I know as well as anyone else that the perception people put of themselves online can often be strikingly different to the reality offline. I know that what I see of others, whether what I am seeing can ignite happiness or sadness for me, isn't a true full picture. 

Spending 30 days away from social media and stopping myself from being almost hypnotised by people whose content I would usually devour and seek out, made me realise that actually, I am still quite a confident person when I want to be, and my value is not and never has been determined by what I do online, but what I do offline.

So I'm doing more, offline. I'm putting the time, the effort and the determination I have been lacking, into making myself whole again offline, because that is the priority, my offline spaces are where I need to focus myself; and it's working. In so many ways it is working and it is changing my mindset, it is changing my behaviour and it is changing, importantly, my happiness.

So, I'm trying to smile more, at myself, at others too, but I'm trying to smile more for myself. I'm trying to be less serious, less worried, I am trying to react less, leave impulsivity out of it, be more rational. I'm trying to like myself, rather than trying to get other people to like me. I don't need other people to like me, but I do need to like myself, and so I'm trying.

When did you last smile for yourself? I'd love to hear your thoughts on social media and how you manage to find the right balance. You can catch me on Instagram @Tattooed Tealady, over on Twitter @TattooedTealady, or my Tattooed Tealady Facebook page. Why not show me your wonderful smiles?