Don’t let social media define who you are

Courtesy of Flickr
Courtesy of Flickr

Social media has a big influence on our daily lives. We usually check our Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter a couple of times every hour. It’s become a habit of ours. Even though social media is a good tool to keep up with pop culture, friends and family, I’ve learned that it can cause people to compare themselves to what they see online. Especially to those who are incoming freshmen, social media can be your biggest ally or worst enemy.

When I was an incoming freshman, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew were the things I’d seen in movies such as partying and advice from my fellow peers saying this is a time to branch out and meet new people. What they didn’t tell me was that the transition period from high school to college is different for everyone. Personally, I had a rocky transition. Looking online and seeing my fellow peers join clubs and take pictures with newly formed friends made me look at myself and ask, “Am I doing something wrong?” I asked this question because I wasn’t doing what they were. Everyone looked like they were having the time of their lives while I was busy trying to figure out the balance between college work and social life. Here are some tips I used to help me overcome comparing myself to my fellow college students.

Take a break from social media

It’s as simple as this. Try to break your habit of checking your phone every few minutes. This can be made easier by deleting all social media apps on your phone for a certain period of time such as when you are studying or feel like you need a break from it. It’s difficult but manageable. By removing the source directly, it removes any temptation you may have to see what your friends are doing on Snapchat or check how many likes you received on your recent Instagram photo. It makes it easier to focus on yourself. Taking a break from social media will remind you that you are more than your online profile.

It’s okay to return back to social media

Taking a break from social media for a while can make you feel like you’re out of the loop. Therefore, you might redownload the apps and do a quick check up on all your social profiles. After you do this and you’re already starting to compare yourself to your friends or feel down — log off. Delete the apps again. That is perfectly okay. It’s just a small reminder that you may not be ready to return to social media. We’re all human. It happens.

Take your time

By this, I mean take your time with finding the right clubs, organizations and friends in college. Not everyone is a social butterfly. You won’t get along with everyone and you’ll find that maybe the clubs your friends join aren’t the right fit for you. I’ve joined certain clubs because the people I hung out with were active participants, and soon found out I was unhappy. I was in the club only to not feel left out, not because I wanted to be a part of it. And I wanted to “show off” to my friends and say, “Hey! I’m doing stuff too!” That is why I say take your time. Soon enough you’ll find the relationships and organizations you are passionate about. So when you go back to social media, you’ll be posting because you genuinely want to share your experiences, not just to brag.

Find the right social media platforms

When you think you’re ready to return back to social media, use the platforms that are most suitable for you. For example, after my social media break, I only went back to Facebook and Instagram and completely disregarded Snapchat. I found that my problem of comparing myself came mostly from Snapchat. It’s going to be different for everyone. Find the platforms that make you feel safe and connected. You’ll find that with the right social media outlets, your online life won’t become as important as your real life and most importantly, you’ll stop comparing yourself to others.

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