No, I’m not talking about the parade of neon orange cones and barrels that seem to never end on the freeway these days. I’m not talking about the West 25th Street exit that’s finally open on I-90 E.
I’m talking about me.
It may sound silly, but it’s true. When I came home for the summer, I realized how truly unhappy I have been with myself for years. Since my elementary school days, it’s been a vicious cycle of trying to achieve perfection in everything. No matter how hard I push myself to make the outcome perfect, it backfires more often than not. The next step is to flood my mind with negative thoughts, punishing myself for failing to reach the ridiculously high standards I set.
This summer, I made a promise to myself to put an end to that cycle. There was only one way that was going to happen though, and it started with something most of Generation Y can’t fathom—giving up social media.
Yes, I know I’m crazy for doing so. But you know what else is crazy? How obsessed we have become with how many “likes” we get on our Instagrams (only 59? Why not 60?), how many followers or Retweets we boast on Twitter, how many people match with us on Tinder, and even how many people write “happy birthday!” on our Facebook wall. Tease all you want, but you know it’s true. And you know what? For someone to rely on social media to determine how much value they hold—on the inside and the outside—it’s not healthy, and it takes away from any self-esteem that is there.
My body has been my biggest enemy, above anything else. For me, it’s always been about trying to lose enough weight to fit into the same clothes as my sisters (they swap closets all the time); I would get jealous and comparative. Once I sought help, I realized that focusing on fitting into a specific size or number was setting me up for failure. Instead, I recently started focusing on becoming the healthiest I can be; so, I invested in a membership at the rec center (the price has motivated me to get my money’s worth). I don’t really care if I’m late to the “get your beach body” game, because what matters is I made that first step in the right direction. And frankly, it’s going great! Since I stopped obsessing over measuring my progress, I’ve actually gotten rid of some weight. I say “getting rid of” and not “losing” because I have no intention of “finding” it again. The secret is, you can’t expect to see a change if you don’t make one.
So for now, my confidence, self-image and path to happiness are under construction. A project like this requires a super strong foundation, and that means shutting down the tempting pressure of comparison on social media.
Believe me, this process has been the hardest one I’ve had to go through in my entire life. Some friends agree that this “cyber cleanse” is a good idea, and others make fun of me for it (which can sting, I admit). But if it means not having eating disorder-related thoughts, picking out every imperfection on my body when I stand in the mirror, or trying to please everyone, then that’s worth more to me than missing out on what’s trending on Twitter or clicking through a Snapchat story that—well, do you really care about which girl has the better duck face for five seconds?