We’ve all had moments where we felt like we weren't good enough. Especially as teenagers growing up in a modern world, resisting the urge to compare ourselves to others has become a major challenge. When people around us are sharing all about their latest achievements and posting pictures with their perfectly content family, is it even possible to resist comparing?
Comparison makes us feel like we’re not worthy enough. I’ve scrolled through social media countless times only to find others living much better lives than mine. I look at how much of a loser I must be to not be at the party everyone else is enjoying or not receiving a desirable test score. However, my journey to recover from constant comparison began when I realized just how much I was destroying my self esteem.
I started to seek validation from the number of likes I got on an Instagram post or the comments my followers wrote. However, most of us trapped in our own bubble fail to realize one major problem: social media only showcases the best aspects of someone’s life. It’s easy to slap on filters and show people “Look at me, my life is amazing!”, though that is hardly ever the case in reality.
Insecurity is accompanied by an inner voice, which is what makes it so dangerous. If we receive an unwanted grade in a class, the inner voice tells us that we aren't smart enough. In this way, insecurity can impact our physical behaviors when left unchecked. It holds us back from trying new things and we become stagnant.
In addition to social media, perfectionism can be a cause of insecurity for many. Our senses and emotions are especially heightened at this age and a simple mistake can be greatly magnified by our perception. If we can’t complete a task without the end result being “perfect”, we feel limited in our abilities; we feel incapable of the skills needed to complete the task. So, here are some action steps I found particularly useful in my journey to recognize insecurity and how to fight it.
1. No one’s perfect.
Let’s face the bad news. There will always be someone out of the 1.2 billion teenagers in this world who is better than you at a particular aspect in life, whether it be academics, music, or video games. You will always be able to tell yourself that someone is more talented or better looking than you are. When you measure your self-worth in relation to others, your self esteem will quickly spiral downwards. We often feel insecure because we start to judge without much information. That talented pianist with a stack of trophies may seem like he has a perfect life, but that’s only because you don’t know about his past failures. What you have to recognize is that you are probably more skilled in other areas than they are. There’s good news: out of the 1.2 billion teens in this world, no one is perfect.
2. Follow those who empower you on social media.
It is often hard to decipher a user’s entire life story by only looking at a picture. If a particular person constantly makes you look down on yourself, consider unfollowing them or hiding their content. My mom often tells me that if people try to portray their lives online as better than the lives of others, they probably harbor their own set of insecurities. They feel the need to prove that they are somehow worthy, and “showing off” online seems to be the most convenient option. However, instead of focusing on what other people are doing, try to focus on how you can improve yourself. As Post Malone tweeted: “I’m too busy watering my own grass to check if yours is greener.” Use social media to boost your self-esteem by following accounts that life you up, not bring you down.
3. Set lower goals for yourself.
Relating back to perfectionism--you might feel like you can’t accomplish a certain task because everything has to go the way you want it to. Give yourself some space to breathe and recognize that it’s okay to make mistakes. Though you've probably heard it many times, failure is truly a part of success, and should be taken as a learning experience. Lowering your standards can allow you to achieve your goals faster. Don’t feel bad about doing so because as long as you are moving forward, you will be able to reach your final destination.
We can never fully get rid of insecurities, but only learn to reject the feeling of shame that comes with it. Learning to do so is also a journey that takes time. Rejecting insecurity takes practice and resilience. Stand in front of a mirror and look at your eyes, your lips, your cheekbones. Look at your scars and imperfections, and tell yourself, “I’m good enough” because, indeed, you are.