This is a bit of a weird one to talk about. I think because admitting that we compare ourselves to others, is something that feels inherently a bit embarrassing to admit, especially if that comparison is even to the point of obsession. It’s hard to describe those moments when I look at someone’s photos I admire again and again, zooming in, trying to capture every angle and everything just coming up perfect. In comparison, when I zoom in one of my own pictures and see a million flaws, all more massive than anyone else could possibly have, of course.
The musician, Dodie, talks about this in her book, Secrets for the Mad: Obsessions, Confessions and Life Lessons, where she frankly talks about obsessively viewing someone’s Instagram in a way that was not healthy. I myself have certainly been guilty of doing this with the Instagram’s of people I admire, and of course, comparing them to me:
“I’ll never have that good style.” “Their stomach is so much flatter than mine will ever be.” “Their Instagram is so aesthetically pleasing; everything I try to do is just a mess.”
This is true for people both I know personally and people I know just by their online persona’s. However, there is something connected to this that has bubbling up for me recently and although it’s not something I am proud of, I wanted to share in case there are people experiencing this too. I was a bit hesitant to share this at the moment, as I wanted to share positive content because I know everything is currently a bit overwhelming. On the other hand, I know reading how other people react in a way similar to me has helped me process in the past, and this is a feeling that might even increase at a time like this.
The feeling that has become mixed in with obsessing over what I believe to be perfection is quite simply, anger. Do not get me wrong sometimes it is pure unadulterated sadness that I will never look or be like the person I admire.
But sometimes I will see someone looking really well on their Instagram, or talking about how well they are doing, or something great they have achieved, and while my thoughts are of pride and happiness for them; my next thought sometimes is anger to them.
“How dare they be doing well?” Especially when I’m not, sometimes, essentially. I know this anger is misplaced and not how I truly feel but I still feel it. I read Hayley Williams mention in an Guardian interview with journalist, Laura Snapes, recently that, “A lot of my depression was misplaced anger”, and that was something that really resonated with me. I’ve noticed for a while now that I feel a lot more angry than I’d ever felt and I’d always put it down to hormones or honestly, self blame that I’d just become more of a horrible person. I didn’t even twig that a lot of that anger was how I felt inside lashing out on the surface. I’d always been someone who just pushes things deep down in the hope if they are far enough down they can’t hurt me, so it shocked me that no matter how hard I pushed those things down, they were going to come fighting back, in a way I didn’t expect.
I still do feel a lot of my misplaced anger and I am able to manage it sometimes, by taking a deep breath before reacting and really considering is this something I am genuinely upset about. My anger at people online for doing or looking well is largely internal anyway, which makes it that much harder. I know a lot of it is because I do not like the way I look, so if someone looks good, it’s just a reminder to me how I feel like I don’t.
Other ways I try to resist these feelings are by trying my hardest to avoid the profiles of people I know set of these feelings (from no fault of their own) but this can be difficult, especially when these profiles are friends.
Honestly, like most things related to mental health, there are things that can help and things you can do to help yourself, but it’s all part of a larger process and there is unfortunately no instant fix.
I never have thought of myself as an angry person and I genuinely love to see people thriving and doing well, so this is why these feelings completely caught me by surprise. It seems so obvious now how the two could be linked but I honestly thought I was turning into a nasty, vicious person.
I hope my thoughts can somehow help you process thoughts in your own head and I know at the moment it’s a very frustrating time for many and there seems to be more anger in general in the air. Everyone is bored, fed up and frankly scared. Fear is one of the greatest causes of anger. Fear of the unknown. Fear of yourself. Fear of what is going on in your head.
I understand and trust me I sympathise. But please do not let that mean you post an angry comment at someone consequently. My angry feelings though still toxic (to me) are internal and I would never think about commenting those feelings to someone. I know sometimes that no matter what you do you will feel like this but don’t cut someone else up emotionally instead.
All I can say is “Be Kind, Rewind”. When the angry thought pops up, stop, think back to the kind thought you just thought of and just rewind back to that. Another thing that helps me is to think back to some words that remind me of what I’m experiencing – the lyrics for Hayley Williams’ ‘Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris’ – “And I will not compare other beauty to mine”.