I remember when I first joined Facebook. Truthfully I had heard of it but was completely uninterested. But when a friend from Jr. High School told me that if I went on Facebook I could connect with tons of old friends, I must admit I was intrigued. As I had completely lost touch with all of my past childhood friends, my mind began to race with the thought of seeing what everyone was up to as adults. And yes, who doesn’t want to see how their classmates look 25 years after last seeing them?
I have to admit that at first it was fun connecting with my past. I was such a different person back then and I was excited to let people see the current me. All of the insecurity I suffered through in High School was gone. I felt good about my life and myself. That chubby, unconfident girl was now a thin, accomplished, happy woman.
For a few years it was great. I loved Facebook. I loved that I could reconnect with so many people from my past.
Then something shifted. As I started seeing daily updates from over 900 "friends," I started to notice something different. The old feelings of self-doubt were creeping back in. Reading about my friend’s successes started making my life seem small and unimportant. Scrolling through Facebook made me depressed. I felt like I was in a competition, with the same sinking feelings I used to have when I was on an audition, sizing up everyone else in the waiting room. I had the awful feeling that no matter whatever I offered, it was going to be criticized.
Instead of being inspired by people’s successes, I started to feel paralyzed. I started to feel that no matter what I did it would never be enough, so why bother.
Of course I knew that people were only posting what they wanted the world to see. I knew that the people behind those posts still felt the same loneliness and lack of control that everyone else in the world experiences. I was smart enough to know that behind those perfect photos all was not necessarily so perfect.
No matter, Facebook was having a very bad impact on my life. It was difficult to stick to my path because I kept getting distracted by everyone else’s journey. I kept coming back to something I heard the lecturer and activist Marianne Williamson say about beginners luck. She said beginners luck really wasn’t “luck” at all. It was simply someone doing something “difficult” without knowing it was supposed to be “difficult." Because there was no negativity attached to the task in the past, they didn't bring it to the present. They just put one foot in front of the other and marched forward.
And that's what I needed to do. There was absolutely no reason to focus on anyone else’s journey but my own. In every moment I have the opportunity to honor myself. And that means honoring my journey as well. It means allowing myself to have my own experiences and not comparing them to anyone else's.
Is this easy? No, but it is something I strive for. And putting limitations on my Facebook use (and other social media sites) helps tremendously. I never start or end my day by looking at Facebook because I know that if I want to have a productive day it is imperative I stay away! I also know if I am willing to risk waking up that monster of negativity hiding inside of me, then I can by all means open my computer and scroll through my feed. It is a choice I have to make. And truthfully most of the time I have no desire to feel shitty so I choose not to do so. My past experiences with depression have taught me I have to be very vigilant. So, keeping my eyes straight ahead and not getting caught up in anyone else's story is what I strive to do everyday.