Setting off to university in my parents car crammed with all of my stuff, I was excited to begin a new chapter of my life. I was finally going to be living with a group of people my own age, and I imagined it as some kind of 90’s chick flick, where we’d sit on the sofa eating popcorn and watching corny films, or cry over a tub of ice cream about boys, wearing face masks and having sing-alongs. And it wasn’t like that, it wasn’t like living with my best friends. While my first year was filled with a lot of fun, I didn’t get on with some of the girls in my flat. They all did the same subject, I didn’t. I had my boyfriend over a lot of the time, and I was working and concentrating on making friends on my course. And so, what begin as enthusiastic friendship turned into me feeling isolated and alone. Now, I had a lot of friends both at home and at uni, so it didn’t phase me that much, and it dawned on me that there wasn’t anything wrong with me, the girls were just in a clique, didn’t have any friends themselves so stuck together like a boring pack of hyenas. I was naive, but eventually came to realise that life is not like a film. in fact, films glorify and romantisise everything about life, giving us false expectations of what life should be like.
And so, when Christmas came around, I was in the pub with some old friends, and I ended up telling one how I didn’t feel it was fair that everyone had great housemates and flatmates, while mine were shit. I told him how I’d go on facebook and instagram, and see all the cute photos – “house meal with the gang!” or “flat girls night out!” and get jealous. And then he told me that a) I was being dumb, and b) that everyone pretends to be happier than they actually are. He told me that people aren’t going to put on facebook when they’d argue or felt isolated with their flatmates, or when they felt ugly. They weren’t going to show instagram their breakdowns and tantrums, but instead, put happy photos on to make themselves feel better, even though it was a lie. Instagram pages, full of little photos just show the highlights of everyday life. They’d show pictures of the best parts of their life- and none of the bad. And this ‘best of’ feature means we obsess over other peoples couple pictures and feel crappy about our own relationships, see their ‘Squad goals’ pictures and doubt our own friendships. See their gorgeous selfies and feel baad about how we look when we don’t have makeup on or our hair done. It feeds into the competition of ‘whos-got-the-best-life’, a page where even though your life isn’t perfect- far from it- in a series of pictures, it appears to be.
And it’s true, we compare our lives with what we see on film, or on our friends social media, but we don’t know the whole story. As the phrase goes; you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. And it made me feel better. Our whole lives, we are told and trained to search for the ‘elusive butterfly of happiness’- a term I’d recently discovered. I’d have moments where I didn’t really know how to be happy, or even if I could be. It seemed that the few shining moments of happiness I had were merged in a sea of feeling shit, upset, angry or just numb. So I almost take comfort in knowing that sometimes, especially on social media, people are not as happy as they seem. Now, I never feel bad about my own life from seeing other people online. I recently spoke to an old friend, at a different uni, and looked like she was having the time of her life, going out all the time, new friends, new boyfriend. It was only when I spoke to her on the phone she told me she was quite heavily depressed and miserable. There is a song called ‘Wear Sunscreen’ by Baz Luhrman that gives advice on life, and to be honest it is one of the most accurate things I have ever heard, and never fails to make me feel better. One bit that always sticks out to me is when he says “Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind.The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself.”
We spend so much time comparing our lives to what we see from other peoples when it doesn’t matter, at all. At the end of the day, you are the protagonist of your life, and your life is controlled by you only- your decisions, mistakes, choices. It is your life that matters, not what you see of someone elses. You never know what that person truly feels or who they are from an instagram page, and it doesn’t matter anyway, because it has no relevance to your life. So, the main thing I try to keep in my mind now is to focus on how I, myself, can make my life happy, not to compare it to other peoples, and most importantly, understand that there are going to be rough times ahead, bad periods- maybe years even, when you’re not okay. But you’re not alone in this, something easily forgettable. Life is hard, for everyone, but you need to focus on yours, and making it as happy as it can be.
Anyway, late night ramblings over. Peace out. xoxo