Have you ever heard the saying “paint yourself in a positive light?” It means make yourself look good… I MEAN REALLY GOOD! And for many on social media, this concept has become so amplified that it actually means TRY TO LOOK PERFECT! Everybody is doing it, right? It’s mind-blowing the measures people will go to in an effort to paint themselves in a positive light. Some take 100 selfies to try to find that ONE perfect picture. Some use an editing app to try to create a perfect, flawless smile and body. Some agonize over the perfect caption to promote the perfect friend group. Some work tirelessly to capture the perfect, relaxed look on that perfect eat-your-heart-out-bet-you-wish-you-were-here vacation.
It’s EXHAUSTING trying to paint that positive light all the time!
You need to know that you have something sturdier and more confident inside of you than what bubbles up when obsessing over social media. Other people’s lives will NEVER validate you. Trust me. You want to feel legitimate in your social world, but focusing attention on THEM instead of YOU threatens the process of becoming the person you want to be. It backfires!
Hint: STOP HOARDING OTHER PEOPLE’S EXPERIENCES AND GO CREATE YOUR OWN!
Now here’s a thought… Wouldn’t it be easier to be real, rather than perfect, so that you can focus more on enjoying your real experiences, with real friends? Imagine the freedom (and security) that flows from realizing that you can’t live out other people’s lives. That’s not how it works. Nobody is going to live YOUR life for you, either.
The good news is that YOU are in charge of living your own life. If you’re wasting time trying to wish your way into someone else’s seemingly perfect life (that we decided seconds ago is exaggerated and polished for the public), you will always feel defeated because nobody will be living YOUR life. See what I mean? Obsessively watching another’s life means nobody is living out YOUR life.
Spend time with the people you love. Visit the places like you like to go. Listen to the music that vibrates your soul. Dream. Create. Live out your experiences, and let go of living in other people’s shadows. Stop watching others do things on line, and get out there and do things yourself!
Let’s talk about your YouTube favorites. Many of these popular YouTubers are eclipsing the popularity of mainstream celebrities. Why? I’m told by many of you that the YouTubers are “more authentic, engaging, relatable, and funny.” So listen up! I want to find a way to think about this topic that is helpful to all of you profoundly curious, soul-searching girls. I don’t want to dismiss what’s important to you, but instead give it some boundaries, some limits. I want to honor your exploration through your search for identity and acknowledge that social media and YouTube are an intricate part of your journey. I get it, but I must share with you some valuable advice to becoming the best version of yourself.
Pay close attention to this equation that will lead to more social confidence and positive emotions:
Time spent with real friends > Time spent with YouTubers.
Healthy identity is the byproduct of healthy relationships. Real relationships. Manage and limit your time on social media so that you can expand your time living out your own real-life experiences. Now… onward into the exciting world that awaits you!
“The only way to have a friend is to be one.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
by Alison Conner, Ph.D.
Dr. Conner is a Psychologist in Fresno, California who specializes in behavioral and mental health for teen and young adult girls. She is a member of our expert panel and provides consultation and content in the area of mental health, particularly the intersection of mental health, healthy relationships, and healthy sexual development.