Social media – what a craze. We all know that while this potent tool has its benefits, it has its downfalls to complement. Mental health and social media share a delicate dance. Unfortunately, people attach their self-worth and confidence to social media. “I got ‘X’ amount of likes that means people must agree I am… (insert complimentary adjective here).” I’d love to tell you I have never fallen victim to it, but it would be a lie if I did.

I will date myself here, so bear with me, my younger friends; I promise it will all connect. Facebook (I know, I know – it’s not cool anymore) is where it all began for me because Instagram, TikTok, etc., were not invented yet (teardrop). So Facebook was the “cool” thing as I entered middle and high school. You wanted everyone to see your pictures because the more pictures you had with different people meant you were super cool, right? Wrong. That’s great you have all of these pictures with “friends,” but if you spent your entire night taking photographs, how much of the event did you enjoy? What conversations blew you away? Probably none because you were too busy making sure your Facebook “friends” (before followers) knew you had a gnarly weekend.

Then came Instagram during my sophomore year of high school or so. At first, it didn’t interest me, then once I realized I was missing stuff, I quickly joined. This is my favorite form of social media because I love pictures. I love taking pictures and looking at them. I was obsessed with the yearbook when it came out each year because it was fun to look at all the pictures! However, Instagram is more complex than browsing people’s photos. It has become a game in a way. Everyone will think I look great if I get the perfect shot with the ideal lighting. And yeah, maybe that’s true, but do you care? Do you care what the random person from high school thinks or a friend’s mom is? Not really. Or at least, I hope not. The person’s thoughts you should care about most are your own. One of my favorite quotes by Peace Pilgrim states, “If you knew how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.”

That’s the thing about social media. We’re all tricking each other into seeing only the glamorous parts of our lives – the vacations, celebrations, and other social events. But where’s the humanity in that? Where are the Monday rainy blues or true testimonies? Sadly, they are very few and far between. Interestingly, when someone is vulnerable enough to share something of depth on social media, everyone tells them “how brave” they are. Really? Am I brave for letting you know I’m human and not all my days are sunshine and rainbows?” Well, shoot, call me, Hercules if that’s the case. Sadly, we are so shocked when others break the fakeness of social media and share real stories – the ones without the fluff and sugarcoating.

I’m not saying we all need to be posting about how sad or angry we are; that would take us in a different and unhealthy direction. My point is balance. Letting people know you’re not okay or seeing your imperfections is okay. Photoshop – yep, I’ve been a victim there too – everyone can tell (the teeth whitening, wow). Folks, it’s SO noticeable, no matter how good you think you are. Don’t poke and prod yourself in a picture to make yourself look different – everyone knows what you look like already – you’re not fooling anyone. Plus, you’re training you’re brain to say, “yeah, I’m not good enough; I need to be edited.” Nope, that is not true. We’re not all meant to be Victoria Secret models despite popular belief, and guess what – that is more than okay! Please show us the scars, stretch marks, and curves.

Love yourself first! Loving yourself teaches you to love another. Make your relationship with yourself positive – enjoy that alone time and know you’re one heck of a badass no matter your social media presence!