Living Primarily Through Me

Recently, I was actually productive after class regarding basic life things. I did my laundry, put my laundry away (which is a struggle for me), swept my floor, cleaned my sink and mirror, did a workout, finished the book that I was reading, wrote some in the book I am writing, and wrote in my journal while finishing the podcast I was listening to.

That night as I was rewatching The Bold Type, I was scrolling through Instagram and some influencers’ posts popped up. Nothing against influencers at all, some have brought a lot of inspiration into my life, but sometimes we can get caught up forgetting that social media is a highlight reel. I saw someone’s story of a forty-minute HIIT workout, and it made my twenty-minute workout feel as if it was not going to benefit my body at all. I saw a group picture of a friend group on their vacation in a foreign country, and the caption was comparing them to a sitcom friend group which is very cool but made me think why don’t I have a sitcom friend group. I saw a post about a girl who was in her late twenties who had visited over sixty countries which made me just go WOW.

Haven’t we all done this?

We get on social media and compare the heck out of ourselves to other people or live vicariously through others. The moment I realized I was so sucked into living vicariously through other people on social media is when I get so excited that they posted something on their story or my heart would flutter when I would see a new post. I would scroll through people’s feeds and look at their pictures imagining what their life must be like. I would imagine these people were the ideal twentysomethings. They were living in a new place, living an adventure, had a nice apartment, had a dream job, had a lot of friends, and we're in a healthy relationship. Honestly, a lot of those things can be very romanticized. Obviously, no one’s life is perfect, and glorifying someone else’s life will only make our lives seem less than. We all have our great times and struggles so we shouldn’t compare our lives to others.

If you do this, I promise you’re not alone. Minutes before writing the first draft of this essay over a year ago, I was sitting on the loveseat in my family’s house scrolling through Instagram and watching a movie on February 24, 2021. A story on my feed popped up from someone who I love their posts and felt so much inspiration from them. I didn’t even know this person, but I was fantasizing about their life. I was thinking what if I was more like this? They seemed like the free-spirited hippie goals that I strived to be. I wanted to have the experiences they were having- going to new countries, going on hikes, or living in a new place. They were beautiful and photogenic. I wanted to look like them or have the experiences they were having. This person or multiple people if I’m being honest were doing things I wanted to do or were doing, but weren’t any more or so I thought. I imagined they were everything I strived to be and more.

I would think I wanted to be more like them or wonder how I could make my life more like theirs, but a few weeks before the acceptance of this realization that I was living vicariously through someone else or multiple people. I was looking through my own Instagram feed. After looking, I started feeling a lot better about myself. I’m not saying to get your self-worth from social media, but in this particular moment, it made me feel better.

I thought back to the moment when I was climbing through a wooden tunnel made in a rock on a hike in South Dakota, or was sledding down a mountainous road in Utah in a snowmobiling community while laughing so freaking hard, or hiked from Fowey to Polruan Hall, Cornwall then took a water taxi back. Or I thought of another South Dakota moment when we were at Devil’s Bathtub in Spearfish, and we were hiking back. We were treacherously walking along the water. The rocks were slimy and covered in moss so they were slippery. I slipped on one and started to slide backward on my stomach. At that moment, I was about to go down a mini waterfall, and it was not going to feel good. My friends called out to me, and I saw one of them reach out his hand out. I managed to stop myself in the slime right before I traveled down the mini waterfall. Yes, I was all wet at this point, but later, it made for a good story. “The day I almost went down a waterfall”, my friends and I laughed hard about it later. After looking through my pictures, I was reminded I had done things, and I was still doing things so why was I beating myself up so much?

The people’s social media pages I was obsessing over have done neat things as well, and yes, I could still find inspiration from them. Although, I didn’t need these romanticizing thoughts to lead me to think I have not done anything with my life.

It’s also important to remember that if something works for you, it might not work for someone else. It’s so common now to see things get romanticized as if that is the end all be all to living your best life. I have obviously gotten caught up in that many times. Especially when I was in college.

If I would stay late at the library and I would come into my college apartment my senior year and flick on the living room lights. My roommates were already asleep in the bedroom. I would set my backpack down on the ground. I would walk over to the couch and open my laptop. I would turn on How I Met Your Mother or Friends and nestle into the couch cushions. Since it was already usually midnight, I knew I should be getting to bed, but I couldn’t.

Because that is not how I work. It’s not how I ever worked. I need time to decompress after working before falling asleep. It helps me feel like I have lived a fulfilled day.

During my time at college, I felt so guilty for this. I was letting what I heard from other people about waking up early, eating healthy, getting the best workout in, and having one or no rest days be key to success. In my case at the time, the success goal was becoming the best runner I could be.

A lot of days, I felt like I was failing at all these things. I never woke up early. I slept in until the last possible moment before work or class (fun fact: I still do that) and have always been a night owl. I ate anything I wanted. I worked hard at practice, but my lack of passion was gone (long story). I also took my rest days. I didn’t run a lot Sundays because I felt so beat up physically, emotionally, and mentally. I needed that Sunday for a rest day and to focus on homework.

I felt as if I was doing everything wrong because I was surrounded by the hardest-working people I have ever met. They were early risers, always studying, would run on Sundays, were some of the smartest people I have ever met and went to bed at reasonable times. These people were my friends and my people in college who I am forever grateful for, but I would always compare myself to them thinking I was a failure or less than.

They never thought these things, it was just me overthinking the entire situation.

In reality, they were doing what worked for them while I was doing what was best for me. I had my own situations while they had theirs and that is COMPLETELY FINE. But these amazing girls have inspired me so much in life and will only keep inspiring me. We have to do what is best for us even though it might look completely different from what somewhat else is doing.

Remember no matter what stage of life you are at, the comparison will try to sneak up and steal your joy. A few weeks ago, when I was sitting in my bed in my apartment in downtown Glasgow literally living in the country I had been dreaming about for so long now, but here I was comparing myself. I was sinking into one of those self-deprecating, insecure, and sullen moods. I was overthinking and comparing to other girls leading me to think I was not fun enough, carefree enough, outgoing enough, adventurous enough, pretty enough for other people to like me and want to be around me. I had to do a reality check, and think what the heck is wrong with me!?!

I was living exactly where I wanted to live a year ago doing the master’s program I had been dreaming about. The day I got my acceptance letter in my Gmail inbox, I went up to my mom’s window at her work and knocked until she came over to open it so I could tell her. I then ran back to the car to where my sister, IdaMae was sitting in the passenger seat, “Did something happen?” she asked.

I told her I got into grad school and she smiled exclaiming, “Yay!”

I texted my dad, the rest of my siblings, and my friends. I was so freaking excited that day, and I will always remember jumping up and down on the mini trampoline in my parent’s room blasting “Tangerine” by Glass Animals with too much excitement to bear. At that moment, the anxiety hadn’t hit me yet because I was just enjoying the sensation of getting into graduate school.

I think back to that memory, and how I made it happen, which is a big thanks to God, but why am I still not believing in myself and comparing myself to every girl on the planet?

I realized I needed to quit beating up on myself all the time. I needed to stop comparing myself, and realize I’m good enough who I am even though it’s a major work in progress. I needed to stop living vicariously through others, but start living primarily through me.

I LOVE social media, but I definitely need to not compare myself on it so much.

We are always living, and I am always trying to soak up life even when I don’t think I am doing enough. I am and so are you so don’t let comparison suck that belief out of you. Having your own personal zest for life is beautiful so keep it safe because it works for you. And just for you.❤

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So no one told you life was going to be this way / Author of Live Our Young Blood https://www.amazon.com/Live-Young-Blood-Ella-Gibbons/dp/B08NY5D8WN

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ellaalethagibbons

ellaalethagibbons

So no one told you life was going to be this way / Author of Live Our Young Blood https://www.amazon.com/Live-Young-Blood-Ella-Gibbons/dp/B08NY5D8WN

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