Have you ever seen the movie 27 Dresses? Well, in case you haven’t, here’s a basic overview: it’s essentially just your typical Rom-Com that takes the concept of “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” quite literally, as it follows a woman who had been a bridesmaid, you guessed it, 27 times. This woman absolutely loves the concept of love, and is reminded over and over again that she’s single every time someone she knows gets engaged and asks her to be a part of their day. Like, can you even imagine how absolutely frustrating that would be?
Alright, so maybe you actually do have a bit of an idea. Let’s be real, sometimes this is pretty much exactly how social media feels (you know, without the perfectly timed comedic relief and stuff).
The social side of social media
We’re social creatures who love sharing our achievements (for real, just imagine how proud the person who discovered fire for the first time must have been? They probably ran around telling everyone who crossed their path like “OH MY FREAKIN’ GOSH, YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHAT I JUST DID”). We all have those times in our lives where we’re winning, feeling pretty unstoppable, and we can’t wait to share our exciting news with anyone who will stop and listen to us for more than two seconds. And where is the best place to share your achievements with as many people as possible, as quickly as possible? Social media, of course.
Social media is great because it connects us almost instantly. Gone are the days when we’d have to pick up the phone and call everyone individually to update them with what’s happening in our lives. Now we’re able to let all of our friends, family, and random strangers on the internet know about our graduation, engagement, pregnancy, etc in virtually a nanosecond, simply with short and sweet captions like #blessed, and wait for the responses to flood in.
Honestly, this is partly what makes social media so amazing. Everybody has the ability to shout out their wins, connect with others who share similar interests, and become an expert in their field, and that’s actually just so beautiful. So if you’re wanting to edit out the 6 years of studying your butt off and just celebrate your graduation day, that’s absolutely fine – never feel guilty for shouting out your wins.
The dark side of social media
However, if you’re on the other side of the story, and maybe you’re feeling like the girl from the movie who’s watching all of her friends around her accomplish the one thing she wants, then social media can feel like a really dark and, well, quite frankly lonely place. It’s so easy to feel like you’re stuck at some dinner date with 100 different couples, all of whom have seemingly perfect relationships, and meanwhile, you’re single and squished right in the middle of all of it.
What to do if you’re feeling stuck
If you are feeling stuck right now, the first thing that you need to realize is that you’re not alone. It’s so easy to forget what it actually means when we talk about social media being an edited collection of highlight reels. Social media shows the wins (like the engagement) but it doesn’t always show the not-so-glamorous behind-the-scenes (like the 2-year long-distance relationship). Right now, everybody is going through something – and if, by some chance, their life is absolutely perfect and everything is peaches & cream, they probably went through something not too long ago. If you’re feeling stuck right now, chances are that the people who you’re comparing yourself to either are feeling that way right now in a different area of their life, or felt that way not too long ago. You know when you watch a scary movie and you remind yourself that it’s not real, it’s just a movie? Sometimes it’s worth having a similar pep talk on social media if you start to feel bombarded with everyone’s wins (feel free to try this: this is just one layer, not the full cake).
Next, take a step back, remove yourself from the situation, and really look within. Realizing that you’re feeling stuck is basically half the battle right there. Believe in yourself enough to see that if you’re self-aware enough to pick up on the fact that you’re feeling this way, then you are also self-aware enough to either dive deep into why you’re feeling this way, or seek out professional help with a therapist, to really tackle why it is you’re feeling this way. For example, if you’re feeling stuck because you’re in school and other people have graduated already, ask yourself why. Are you worried it has to do with your age? Or could it be that you’re concerned that you won’t find a job? Or does it have to do with your student loans? Figuring out your why allows you to either work through it and realize it’s not as big of a deal as you originally thought, or have you turn it into an advantage.
Rewrite your narrative: have you ever heard the expression “when attention goes, energy flows?”. We attract what we focus on. This is not to say that you should just ignore and bury whatever it is that you’re feeling, however, it is to say that when you’re focusing on the fact you’re feeling stuck, you’re going to feel even more stuck, and it’ll become harder and harder to focus on what is yet to come. But when you’ve figured out why you’re feeling stuck, then you’re able to really dive into creating actionable steps for harnessing your feelings to turn into your advantage.
Let’s say you’ve uncovered that you’re insecure about being older than your classmates, your advantage could be that you’ve worked in jobs you maybe didn’t like as much and now you’re filled with such strong motivation to work hard. Or maybe you’ve determined that you’re insecure about your student loans, use that as motivation to get the most out of your education possible including utilizing all of your resources (tutors, services, etc), professors, and internships to land the job of your dreams to pay off your loan quickly. But when you focus your attention on your advantage and you may find it’s easier to focus on the steps you need to take in order to achieve it.
Finally, love yourself first. It’s so difficult when you’re feeling like everyone around you is moving up and you’re stuck in the same place. Love yourself first, believe in yourself, and trust that anything is possible. You’re going to do amazing things.