I am extremely competitive. Like, wanting-to-flip-the-Monopoly-board-when-I-start-losing competitive.
Whether it stems from playing a variety of sports from the ages of five to 14 or growing up with four siblings is beyond me—I just know it’s in my blood.
My competitiveness has been one of my greatest strengths. It has instilled a solid work ethic in me that makes me always want to be the best version (I’d like to add “of myself” here, but I don’t know if that’s entirely true…) possible, so I bust my butt to get there. That has helped me excel in school and work, and I’m grateful for that.
But, more significantly, it has also been one of my greatest weaknesses. As with any other extremely competitive person, sometimes I come off as a sore loser, which makes me not too pleasant to be around. I pout—like, a lot—and I’m not proud of it, but that’s not the only downfall to my competitive nature.
My greatest downfall is that being so competitive has made me so incredibly insecure, and I didn’t even realize it until recently (today, actually).
Social media is a competition
I was reading a USA Today article titled, “’Chubby, brown & braless’: These women are unapologetic about their bodies, and Instagram fans can’t seem to get enough.” Judging from the headline, I really didn’t know what to expect in reading it, but it surprised me and completely changed my perspective on some things.
As you’ve read in some of my posts (here’s one, for example) I’ve always struggled with my body image, and until today I just pinned it as society making me, along with many other women, have unrealistic body expectations. That us, until I read this article.
One line in the article hit me like a ton of bricks. It was one of those “ah-ha” moments—an epiphany, if you will.
Social media, he said, has turned into a competition among women that causes a downward spiral in mental health.
A competition among women. And here I am, a highly competitive woman. It all makes sense.
When I first made my Instagram circa 2012 it wasn’t the celebrity and influencer filled site that it is today. I followed friends that I knew, and (most of the time) they followed me back. It was truly a way for me to keep in contact with friends, and that’s it. Crazy, right?
I would share pictures of things that I just felt like sharing, not things I thought would get the most likes. Seriously, one of my (now-deleted) first posts was LITERALLY a bowl of chocolate Cheerios and I’m 95 percent sure the caption contained the words “yummy in my tummy,” but I digress.
I didn’t compare my like and follower count to others, because I simply didn’t care. The only thing that mattered to me was staying in touch with my good friends.
Fast forward to today, and my Instagram feed is 90 85 percent celebrities or influencers. To test this stat, I just scrolled through my feed, and only three out of 20 were people I personally knew. (As you can see, my initial guess was not far off. Side note: four of those 20 were paid advertisements. How did I never notice those showed on my feed so frequently?)
So, when I scroll through Instagram for an average of 23 minutes a day (I’m surprisingly proud that it’s not more—thanks for the insight, iPhone), I’m bombarding myself with images of picture-perfect celebrities with picture-perfect lives. I’m comparing myself to them and wanting to be on their unrealistic level.
Why? Because I’m competitive.
Influencers set the competitive bar high
With the rise of social media and Instagram influencers, a new world of competition has developed, and it’s brutal.
This competition not only leaves you feeling defeated, it leaves you feeling insecure and vulnerable because it’s not centered around one specific aspect of you, like how good you are at shooting a ball or working, it’s centered around you as an entire being—your image.
There are avenues of social media that fixate on anything and everything that make up a person—fashion influencers, makeup/beauty influencers, fitness influencers, mommy influencers, professional influencers, blogger influencers—basically tack on “influencers” to anything and it exists.
This means that in any circumstance imaginable, there is a high standard of how you should be or look, and for someone with a competitive spirit, this is a recipe for disaster.
So, what’s one to do in a world like this?
First, unfollow. Yup, that’s right. Unfollow your little heart out. All those fitness pages that make you feel like crap just looking at their perfect bodies. The models that make you want to second guess that hamburger you’re about to eat. The celebrities that use ungodly amounts of Photoshop to hide their flaws. All of them.
Next, follow. Ever heard of those self-love warrior influencers? These people show themselves, completely and entirely and are so relatable it hurts. They say what’s on everyone’s mind and advocate for a world where we all just be ourselves. Need a starting point? Gina Susanna is a good one—she was mentioned in that USA Today article I read, and I just recently started following her, too.
While you’re on that following kick, follow some people you actually know. Way back in the day, social media was created to bring people that know one another together, so let’s try to get some more of that. Old friends. New friends. Whoever you think will make your feed happy.
Then, lay off on the competitiveness. This is going to be hard—like, real hard. Trust me, I know that when you’re competitive it feels like you need to be the best at everything. You don’t. In fact, if you try to be the best at everything, you’ll never be great at anything. Just worry about yourself and your needs, and the rest will fall into place.
Finally, take a break. I’m not saying to completely abandon all forms of social media, but we all need to decompress. Start out slow and stop checking it while you’re eating dinner. Then, move on to bigger things like only limiting it to certain times of the day or cutting it out from certain days completely.
At the end of the day, you just have to do what’s best for you. Don’t worry about what other people wear, what they do or how they look—just focus on yourself. When you start doing that, your insecurities will begin to melt away.
And if you need a little competition in your life, I recommend Monopoly, just don’t be a sore loser and flip the board. 😉