I am always online. Whether it’s posting poems on Insta, scrolling through Facebook or sending important goss into my group chat with the gals, I rely hugely on it. I love my online life, but sometimes I think we’re all guilty of forgetting to put time towards the offline one. Social media is a world full of highlights. It’s the cocktails masking the nights when we feel like crap on the inside, the trips away without the homesickness, the quotes disguising crumbling relationships. When you put all of these highlights together, is it really any wonder it drains the life out of us? It is millions and millions of people competing to keep up with something that isn’t even there. It’s the “so us” memes when in reality we’re spending little time exploring ourselves.
I am a 23-year-old woman. I’m human. Of course I have had battles with my body. My apple shape means I will never have a flat tummy and will always have that little bit of flab at the side of my boobs. I am not blessed with naturally curvy hips or Kylie Jenner inspired lips. I often try to angle my photos so my hairy arms don’t get into the shot. I overeat and feel the unnecessary wave of guilt that comes with it. We are all scrambling to find our place among the gym selfies, slimming tea ads and photoshopped photos. We believe there is room for improvement because our flaws are rarely shown on the Instagram newsfeed. It is not a platform for jiggly tummies, bum cellulite, body hair, breakouts or boobs that point downwards. It is not a platform for these things, but it should be. The thing is, everyone unbuttons their jeans after a good munch, that’s life. Bodies are bodies, they’re all doing the same thing – keeping us alive, whether they’re bloating, sprouting hair in unexpected places or turning us into the anti-christ pre-period.
As I have gotten older, I am becoming more comfortable in who I am. I am wise to the wavy waist lines on the photoshopped influencers bikini pictures, I know makeup is easily enhanced with a bit of light adjustment, I know I am blessed to have a functioning body with a heart that is beating. Since starting Slimming World, a personal decision I made this year, I have found my confidence and love for myself again. I am more wary of how I fuel my body – the good, the bad and the balance. I think my energy has started to radiate what I’m feeding into it which is attracting the right things for me.
Social media is a great thing, it makes everything and everyone so accessible. However, saying that, why is it so hard to make real contact and form real connections? Again, I know. I’m living it daily. I’ve waited beside my phone for a message that I know isn’t coming, I’ve measured my worth on the disappearance of a yellow heart on Snapchat and whether or not that one person likes my latest selfie. I’ve felt that sickening heartbreaking feeling fall over me as the once loved move on with new lovers. I have a world of contact at my fingertips, but rarely use it. Society has taught me it is not my place to send the first text, that lads will be lads and I just have to get over it, that the final straw in love is removing him on every social platform. It is as if we use this imaginary world to erase people, memories and emotions, as if these living, breathing human beings have been banished to cyber space because we no longer follow them. As if the feelings are supposed to go with them too because they weren’t ours to claim anyway. We all think we know so much because we watch his online habits, know when he was last active on Facebook, see what pictures he likes, as if this is all there is to this person. We can’t measure people this way, there is more to people than this. We cannot decipher people’s lives through a screen, we are making the process of feeling so much more complex than it needs to be.
The frightening thing is, it is so easy to remove people in the virtual sense when we crave them so deeply in the physical sense. I’ve lost many people to this ghosting culture, having to pick up the pieces of their mess without any closure or explanation. We are left suffocating under the weight of self-doubt and overthinking while analysing a life we know nothing about. Guessing what they feel and why they feel it, blaming ourselves for where it went wrong. We are the generation of endless contact, yet a we have put a lingering fear and wall of pride in front of it. We are a text away from apologies, forgiveness and healing, yet world’s apart at the same time. We are the ones who won’t stop and enjoy the current view because there are too many options when testing the water. Pride and other possibilities have proven to be a deadly combination when it comes to our social addiction.
Through all of this, trying to love ourselves and hoping others will love us too, we just want to be happy. The thing is though, happiness is deeper than 100 likes or your favourite gif (the Winnie the pooh one shaking his bum on Insta, FYI.) Happiness is the parts in between. It’s the nights you posted the pictures of, the kiss you don’t know if you’ll have again, the pizza that caused the unbuttoning of your jeans. Your social life could disappear tomorrow, but your actual life could too. So, which is more frightening? Neither will ever be perfect, so which do you want to devote your energy to? I know for me, the majority of my favourite things are happening away from social media. When my bedroom is cosy, cups of tea in cute cafes, writing in a new notebook, plucking my one random chin hair (yes seriously, love that. I’m a weirdo!) belly laughs with my friends, fish and chips at the seaside, watching the stars from the trampoline, Sex and the City reruns, Disney binges, and dodging the fella you fancy in Penneys because last time you saw him you were eight gins and one missing false lash into the night. That’s the real beauty of life, people, and if he likes your selfie, great! But that like doesn’t measure your value and that selfie is not strong enough to reflect of how exquisite you are.
Stop being so hard on yourself because of the things you’re seeing through a screen. Life should be taken with a pinch of salt, online and offline, it’s too short not to be.