Don't Let Instagram Fool You, It's Okay To Not Be Okay Right Now
Scrolling through Instagram right now, no one would guess that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. That might be because everything on our timelines look eerily.... normal. On the surface, everyone’s magically recovered from mass hysteria and gone back to updating their rigorous skincare regimens and trying their hand at the latest makeup trend. Everybody seems really okay, and it sucks. Because it feels like I'm the only one that's not.
There was a brief period at the start of quarantine where I found myself obsessively picking apart the social media presence of those who seemed to be thriving. As I sat in bed in stained pajamas and my third helping of Nutella and pretzels, I scrolled through their Instagrams, unable to comprehend how they were all doing so well . Their stories’ were full of fun home workouts, chic #workfromhome fits, and perfect homemade meals. I was still sleeping until 2 P.M and too demoralized to focus on anything besides Netflix. While they were moving on, I felt paralyzed. And seeing everyone else so easily able to pick up their lives and move forward made me feel worse about the fact that I couldn’t.
Now, que dramatic montage of me making an immense effort to convince everyone else that I felt normal too because, of course, I refused to be left behind. I needed to prove that I too was still a hardworking girl boss, who wouldn’t let anything, not even a global health crisis, get in the way of achieving her goals. I tried to do the things Instagram told me I should be doing at a time like this. Like waking up early to do yoga, honing in on self care, and working hard, if not harder than I was before the lockdown. Every time I tried, I felt stupid when I’d fail, then mad at myself for not being able to do such simple tasks, then ridiculous for caring about these things in such an awful time in the first place. This cycle went on for weeks and I couldn't help thinking No one else is acting like this. Everybody else is still living, so why aren’t you? I was shrouded with guilt and embarrassment because no matter how much I wanted to, I couldn’t find it in myself to truly "move on".
During that period, I just didn't care about all the things that kept me preoccupied pre-COVID-19. It just wasn’t where my priority was. Lack of motivation mixed with jealousy of how effortlessly it came to everyone else made Instagram more mentally taxing than usual. Finally, I gave up on keeping up with my timeline. I accepted that I was sad, and bored, and a bit miserable. Only through the acceptance of how I was truly feeling was I able to being making real progress on moving forward.
Living in the peak of digital content has always been draining. Even before this pandemic, plenty of us felt the need to be faking something for social media. Faking how busy we were or how popular we were or how successful. There's always been this palpable tension linked to competition; constantly comparing ourselves to who or what we should be. In a difficult time like this, that pressure can feel even heavier. But there is no need to perform anything to your peers who are seemingly doing so well. It is okay not to be okay right this very moment.
In the race to be like everyone else, I was forcing myself to do thing I wasn't ready for. I was convinced that I was alone in feeling drained and sad while doing nothing, when I know that's just Instagram playing its mind games. Now is a better time than any to be honest about how we’re doing , because it reminds us we aren't the only one who’s struggling. Don’t let all the smiling faces and curated feeds that even I am guilty of, convince you otherwise. You don’t have to be okay today or tomorrow. Or you can be okay today and not be okay tomorrow. This process isn't linear. Don't rush yourself to keep up with filters and gleaming smiles, because most of it probably isn't real anyways.