Social Comparison on Social Media

If someone told me 10 years ago that I would be married by now with a child, I would have laughed at them and thought they were insane. I never imagined myself to be where I am now but despite my highlight reel, I do not make a point to brag about it on Facebook and other forms of social media. I am one who despises when other people brag about how great their lives are and it would be hypocritical of me to do the same.

That’s great your career is going well and you just bought a house with your boyfriend. That’s great you just got a promotion. That’s great you had a wedding that I wasn’t invited to. That’s great you have a lovely family and a million siblings – I wonder what that’s like! That’s great you post a gazillion photos of your amazing life every day. That’s great you are pregnant and a couple years from now you’ll be pregnant again. Since I cannot get away from these announcements, I cut myself off of social media. Please tell me in person so I’ll actually care in a genuine way. The last place I want to find out is on Facebook, where I feel pressured to conform and congratulate you in the most shallow way possible.

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“Being different isn’t a bad thing. It just means that you are brave enough to be yourself.” -unknown

Now, I know that we all have problems but we seldom hear about the bad things in life. I much rather hear about someone’s struggles than see a constant highlight reel of someone’s life. My parents have instilled in me to only post the good things because otherwise, people would know me on a deeper level. Go figure! Isn’t that the point? To connect with people on a meaningful level? Let’s face it, shallow isn’t a meaningful level. If I cannot post freely, then I rather not post at all. I hope that my family doesn’t find this blog because the moment they do I will be getting an earful of lectures. Once my mother found my Instagram I stopped posting because of her criticisms. My parents find ways to creep my Facebook so I stopped posting there as well. My second “private” account is not so private if my real name is searched. Now, how did that happen?? I honestly question the Facebook privacy settings.

My husband strongly discourages social comparison but he doesn’t understand it the same way I do. He didn’t struggle with life the same way I did and he doesn’t suffer from depression, anxiety, loneliness, and isolation. For me, social media brings out feelings of jealousy so I am better off being ignorant to the newsfeed. He says that I attract certain people and in a way he is right. I seem to resonate better with unhappy people in general: the high school drop-outs, low-class people from dysfunctional families, unhealthy people with medical conditions, pessimistic people who see the glass half empty etc. In a way, I want to help them, and perhaps I feel sorry for them. It’s hard for me to resonate with people who are exactly like me.

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Husband with our sweet baby girl.

These people, in contrast, trigger my anxiety and depression. I am not only comparing myself to successful people but when my life is at a standstill I am even more prone to self-loathing. I have a strong, innate desire to be successful and exceed people’s expectations and with that comes dissatisfaction and feelings of unworthiness.

From a distance, someone may think that I have a good life, and maybe I do but its hard for me to see it. I cannot understand why ANYONE would be jealous of me. I have A LOT of struggles but they hardly see this side of me. I occasionally use a private forum on my phone for well-being, logging and calendar charting. I like the anonymity of the social feature but it also saddens me since I will never truly get to know these ladies beyond a phone screen. The relationships are shallow and just as quickly as we became forum friends, one can easily hit the “unfollow” button which I am equally guilty of doing. It’s not that I have anything against these ladies (unless they are rude and end up on the blocked list). However, if you fill my home page with bragger-y, TMI posts, pregnancy announcements, big accomplishments that crave praise etc. I need to protect my sanity (aka. my inner child, the identity I actually resonate with). I hope you understand that my well-being is a delicate vessel that needs nurturing which only I can nurture. My inner child does not receive proper nourishment from validation, likes and praise on social media and yours shouldn’t either. That would be similar to feeding my inner child candy bars, chips, and soda. I need REAL nourishment and that satiation can only come from within.

 

 

Weeding Out Toxic Friends Part 2

This post is a continuation of Weeding Out Toxic Friends. If you haven’t read it yet, please read that blog post first.

Update: Since I mailed my letter to Jenna and she should have received it by now, I decided to write to Emma* as well. For their sake, real names won’t be disclosed. Lately, I noticed that I am mourning the loss of these friendships even though these girls hurt me deeply. Writing closure letters is a healthier way to deal with these feelings of grief. Hopefully, Jenna read her letter but I’ll never know for sure since I completely cut ties with her. It is likely that Emma will read her letter but I’m unsure whether she’ll actually feel bad about how she treated me. She’s extremely selfish and lacks any form of emotion and empathy for others.

Emma isn’t exactly the sharpest pencil of the pack, so I decided to dumb my letter down for her. It’s longer than letter #1 because I wrote out definitions and thoroughly explained things so she would understand it. I questioned why I often hung out with Emma because we were in completely different leagues, socially and academically. I’m an intellect – a high achiever, while she spent the majority of high school in special ED homework help class. Someone, please tell me how this counts as credit towards high school graduation?? She failed the grade 10 literacy test twice and the reason why we became friends in the first place. While she was taking literacy class in summer school, I was studying advanced physics to skip a grade. Her parents are teachers so it is puzzling as to why she didn’t receive proper help and guidance outside of school.

Dear Emma,

So we are not exactly “friends” anymore, but I think you have the right to know how I really feel. There was a time when I would have cared enough to send an apology text message begging for forgiveness. Now, I just don’t care enough anymore to say “I’m sorry” because truthfully, I didn’t do anything wrong and here’s why:

I do not appreciate being belittled by you, insulted and talked down to as if I am stupid. In case you don’t know what belittled means, “To belittle, means to put down or to make another person feel as though they aren’t important. Saying mean things about another person literally makes them feel “little.” To belittle someone is cruel ways of making someone else seem less important than you.” You belittle me all the time, and Jenna feels this way too even though she will never admit it. She pretends to ignore it, but I am going to speak up.

You may think that you are better than the rest of us, but news flash! You’re not superior to others. Do not text me again asking me, “What is wrong with you??” Do not send me anymore obnoxious YouTube music videos about flakiness. In case you don’t know what flaky means, it means, “an unreliable person. Dishonest and doesn’t keep their word.” I always showed up on time to our meetings. Out of curiosity, tell me how often Jenna bailed on you. She’s bailed on me as well, and that is the definition of a flaky person. I am not dishonest and will flat out tell you what’s wrong if we have a problem. However, lately, I have been stepping on eggshells around you, afraid that you will misinterpret what I said. I know what Jenna did to you the night you two went to Menchies (Recall: March 1, 2017). Remember how much it hurt you when Jenna and I went to Menchies and you felt excluded because you weren’t there? Think about how I felt the night you two went to Menchies without me. How is this any different than how you felt? It’s a sucky feeling to be excluded.

On the night you two were devouring your frozen desserts, Jenna randomly texted me while I was in the middle of writing anatomy notes. *PING!* goes my phone. Jenna hardly texts me anymore, so I was a bit puzzled by this random text message and assumed it was important. I open the message, disappointed to see that she sent me a rather obnoxious image of your frozen yogurts and tells me to “rate it.” Tell me, if this was sent to you, and it was obvious that you weren’t included, how would you feel? At first, I wasn’t going to reply to it at all, but thought, what the heck! At least she’s making the effort to make small talk with me right? I decided to send a witty reply, hoping to add some comedy to this otherwise ignorant text message. I shouldn’t have fallen for her trap but it was too late. I replied with a long metaphor comparing an innocent frozen dessert to social media and how everyone competes for attention on the internet, which you didn’t understand because this humor wasn’t meant for you. I was texting Jenna, not you but Jenna decided to make it your business. Jenna replied to me saying that my metaphor was funny but that’s clearly NOT what she told you. So what did she tell you exactly? That I was insulting? Wow.

What she told you was a lie, but this time I am not going to apologize for something I didn’t do. In case you don’t know what a metaphor is, it means, “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is NOT literally applicable.” You took it literally.

Here is an example of a metaphor: “I had fallen through a trapdoor of depression.” It doesn’t literally mean that you fall through a trapdoor.

Now relate this back to the original text message that I sent Jenna if you saw it. Do you get it now? I wasn’t insulting your dessert. I was in figuratively comparing two unrelated things and finding similarities between them and personifying frozen yogurt as if it was a person on Fakebook, Twitter etc. So no, there is nothing wrong with me, but thanks for the unwanted insult. (Now I am being sarcastic here. If you don’t know what sarcastic means, look it up).

Without the online/texting drama, I am living a much more peaceful life now. I am not telling people my personal business thanks to Jenna teaching me what NOT to do. What she did was unforgivable but I have already written to her. I am sick of Jenna’s sick twisted ways of manipulating your feelings leading you to irrationally lash out at me. Your behavior wasn’t necessary and perhaps our friendship could have been spared if you took the time to actually think before you freaked out at me. She plays you like a fool but you haven’t realized it yet. Honestly, I feel a bit sorry for you because you keep crawling back to her, and the drama/fights/back-stabbing continues. Your behavior and treatment towards me and others are not acceptable. What’s worse is that you don’t often instigate it – often it’s her who told you something to upset you, on PURPOSE. Have you noticed this trend? I’m tired of it. Over the years, it became harder to relate to you on a deeper level and our friendship was often “shallow.” One day we were Facebook besties, usually after a fight between you and Jenna. The next day Jenna was your bestie. A week later you hated her guts. The next week you and I were best friends supposedly. Often it seems like she is your bestie but you’re not actually her bestie. It’s not a 2-way street like she’s manipulated you into thinking it is. I can tell you who her bestie is, but I’m not going to gossip about stuff that isn’t my business. Like I said earlier, it felt like I was stepping on eggshells because you could snap at me at any second. You were quite rude to me, insulting my intelligence and acting superior to everyone else. Superior means, “to act like we are stupid and that you can do no wrong, that you’re ALWAYS right in every situation.”

There was something I liked about you though. You were willing to genuinely apologize after our fight last year. Jenna instigated the fight and manipulated it (of course she did…) but she never apologized for her behavior. Truth is, she never apologizes for ANYTHING. Remember how she would often bail on you and not show up when she was supposed to? Over time, she started bailing on me as well, canceling plans on me or not informing me that she was busy. It was really rude. But the biggest issue I have with her is the fact that she vanishes shortly after she starts drama. You’re open about your feelings when something is bothering you. Jenna on the other hand, wouldn’t say anything and would disappear in the middle of the drama. She wouldn’t answer texts for days, call me back, and would ignore me. The night you sent me that angry text message about the frozen yogurt, Jenna vanished. She explained nothing to me, that you were upset, or anything. No text. *POOF!* and she disappears and pretends to act like she knows nothing the next time she’s questioned about it. Every incident was like this with Jenna but this time was the last straw. I’ve had it with her bullshit and I’ve had it with you leaping before thinking. I am tired of being that “third wheel.” I want the best for everyone and don’t exclude people intentionally. I can clearly see what she did that night (and last year too), and hopefully, now you can understand my side of the story.

You probably thought that I was stealing Jenna from you but I wasn’t. It truly is unfortunate that I’m not friends with either of you now because of the damage caused. I have some good memories with you and I won’t forget these moments. I feel saddened that things ended the way that they did but I have no interest in repairing my friendship with you. It is exhausting and I am tired of putting my energy into a friendship that is draining me and putting me down more than it is lifting me up. The insults, the belittlement, the back-stabbing; it’s simply too much. I hate to say this, but my friendship with you has become unhealthy. It was really nice knowing you and being a part of your life, and I wish you all the best. I hope that you learned something from all of this and that one day you’ll find better friends too. Since it’s clear that we aren’t making each other happy anymore, it’s best that we go our separate ways. It was really nice knowing you all of these years, and sharing memories together. I wish you all the best in your endeavors.    –Hilary♥ 

Texting Killed the Conversation

There is nothing wrong with texting. In fact, it’s the main way that I communicate with people these days. Being in an isolated location and supervising a newborn 24/7, it’s very difficult to socialize in the real world. Throughout the last 8 years of my life, I became a texting queen. My writing has improved significantly and my WPM speed is stellar.

woman-smartphone-girl-busFor the majority of people, their writing skills may have suffered for the same reason my skills have improved. With the convenience of texting and messenger apps, emojis, acronyms etc. are hurting our writing etiquette. I am beginning to dread the *PING* on my phone; the notification that someone messaged me. Immediately I get a rush of adrenaline and dopamine and before I know it, I already opened the app. Disappointed, I see that a Facebook “friend” (or acquaintance) has sent me a “hi.” That’s it. Hi. Nothing else. No introduction. Just a Hi.  Really now?!

Hi. Hey. Sup. Wazzup. It’s all the same to me. How are you (and God forbid, hru) is pushing it. I used to be inclined to answer to all of these texts and realized over the years that I was just wasting time. One-word responses killed the texting conversation before it even had a chance to grow and flourish into a deep, rich engagement between two people. With a little bit of optimism, I would end up replying with a sentence, hoping that they would get the hint and say something meaningful. I press >>send<< and moments later I hear another *PING.* I open the message with anticipation, only to be more disappointed. They sent me an OK. Just an OK. They couldn’t even be bothered to write the whole word. Maybe next time they’ll send me a LOL or an emoji or some dumb meme that’s been floating around social media.

I decide to call it quits. Before I have the chance to send a sarcastic reply, an eye roll emoji or “……”, I mute the conversation. I put my phone away and get back to work. Minutes later my mind starts racing and I begin to question whether they replied to me. I begin to feel bad ignoring them, so instead, I reply and kindly ask them to stop sending one-word texts. Sometimes the conversation will stop dead in its tracks and I won’t hear from them again. If I’m lucky they take my constructive criticism, but usually I get a response along the lines of “OK” or ‘how are you?”

I have completely lost faith in this person. I delete the conversation, and hit “unfriend.”

 

Unsolicited Baby Advice

There is no easy way to handle unwanted baby advice, especially from a family member whom you simply cannot avoid. Unless I ask for advice on parenting, I do not want your opinions shoved in my face. I cannot tell you how many times someone has given me “the talk” about how to properly parent. Worst case is when they give me a lecture on how I don’t properly parent. Headphones in. Volume up. Ignore the world.

Well, I’m not ignoring my baby of course. It’s all of the unsolicited opinions from people who rub me the wrong way. Sometimes, strangers or former friends/acquaintances would walk up to me and comment on my daughter’s appearance in an ignorant manner as if I didn’t already know. Some days I rather not leave the house than be forced to interact with people. In a future blog post, I will talk about this in more detail.

Recently, I have been avoiding family members on the phone because every time they call, I get some kind of lecture. It has gotten to the point where I have the temptation to hang up on people. Lately, I would check caller display to see who is calling. Then I would debate whether or not I’m going to talk to them, and several times I ended up ignoring the call. Last time when I visited my grandmother, she proceeded to give me unwanted advice, and her negativity made me cry. I was an emotional wreck then and still am now, but that was my breaking point. After that visit, I proceeded to ignore her phone calls and attempted to write her a letter instead.

Thought I would share my letter with you like I did in Weeding Out Toxic Friends. Names I won’t disclose so we’ll just refer to her as grandmother*. I have yet to hear whether she received my letter in the mail. I am curious to know what you think of my actions in the comments section↓. Am I being extreme or were my actions necessary?

Dear Grandmother*,

           I am writing to you because I know that you don’t use email and I am not ready to talk on the phone yet. I’m not sure what my mother has been telling you, but take it from me rather than from her. Lately, I have been in a very confusing and difficult place, thus forcing me to leave social media and “cut” some toxic people out of my life. I had cut the toxic people, so that is one step forward. When people ask me how I am doing, I do not know how to answer that question.

          Yes, on the surface I am a new mom and probably a naive one too. However, I am dealing with things that none of my friends or family is dealing with, so I ask that people keep their “thoughtful” opinions to themselves. As a new mom, I know what I am doing and I am getting some of the best guidance from an experienced guy who knows how to handle babies. He has taught me a lot and has made me confident enough to handle tasks on my own. Although you may be trying to give me advice, I do not want anyone’s advice unless I ask for it. Do not take it personally, but any negativity isn’t welcome nor do I want it. If I have questions, I ask my mother since she seems to enjoy keeping tabs on my life and current whereabouts. The stuff that I tell you and others is just a mere glimpse of my life, so any judgments based on these facts are inaccurate and bluntly speaking, seldom true. I do not need guidance, or advice on how to live my life. I also do not need people telling me what I should be doing or could be doing rather than what I am currently doing. As a resolution, I made a promise to myself to live in the present moment and do what I think is the right choice at this present time. It may not be the most logical choice however, but if it feels right to me then I am going to listen to what my heart wants.

          I am here if you want to talk to me. There is no need to question our friendship. Truth is, you are my favorite grandmother and I feel closer to you than my own mother when it comes to personal issues. Lately, my mother has been trying to get closer to me because of the distance separating us, but we cannot live together long term. [rest of the letter has been omitted for personal reasons]. 

Love, Hilary ♥