Why #goals might not be what they seem like

There’s one trend on everybody’s favourite platform for people stalking connecting with like-minded people that makes me cringe. Yes, we’re talking Instagram – endless source of post inspiration for me – and: #goals. In case you’re one of those who haven’t handed their lives over to an app 😉 [it’s too addictive]: #goals is a hashtag used to express admiration for physical attributes, material possessions or any part of another person’s life. Often found as #relationshipgoals [current uses: 1, 626,508 times], #bodygoals or even #lifegoals. It’s a phenomenon that gets me thinking about its influence on our self-worth as well as false asumptions made online.

Let’s pick one of the most popular and the first I stumbled upon months ago [or at least the first I noticed and intially inspired this post]: #relationshipgoals. Sure, the couples in those pictures looks perfect. Usually either dressed in designer clothes or hippie chic but always hugging, kissing, touching and seemingly forgetting the world around them. Only, you know, aware a picture is taken to be shared with countless viewers all over the world. That much for intimacy …

Just remember this before hashtagging #goals or getting lost in jealousy for others’ presumed perfect life: they’re showing their highlight reel. And not only that but a fraction of a second of their highlight reel. The seemingly perfect couple could have gotten into a fight later that day. The very next second that puppy looking all cute and innocent could have run off to do some damage like leaving a little unwanted ‘gift’ somewhere. If Instagram had existed at the time Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were dating they’d have likely been many people’s #relationshipgoals. Yet: later on separated in a messy break-up.

The #goals you’re admiring might not actually exist. The people embodying your goals might not have the lives they portray on social media. Even when somebody posts a million pictures of their day to day life: still not the full picture of their reality. Because there are 86.400 seconds in a day  and every picture captures only a single one of those. What happened right before or after the picture was taken? We don’t know.

There’s nothing wrong with setting goals. It’s only when tagging #goals makes you feel like the ugly duckling next to the Instagram swan. When it Strive for what is achievable in your own life and also notice how much you already have achieved. Grades in school, being a friend others value having in their life, : these aren’t goals as per Instagram’s statistic but these aren’t admirable goals as per Instagram’s statistic but achievements valued by real people in real life.

I’m 99 % positive the people who are many others’ #goals have struggles of their own. Have days of feeling blue. They might not feel they’d reached their personal goals yet. As Katherine recently stated so truly even having it all – whatever that might  in the particular case – doesn’t necessarily feel as good as it looks from the outside. Those who have it all can still feel lonely, lost in a sea of opportunities, wishes and insecurity about life.

While the lives of some people seem admirable to me, too, I can honestly say I don’t want to be anybody’s #goals. Much less many people’s. Because once you are public like – on Instagram or through a blog –  that you’re under a pressure to maintain a certain image of perfection. Have a bad day? Hide it. Breaking up with your long-term boyfriend and trying to  conceal the fact by simply not posting pictures with him for a while? Rest assured people will start gossiping.

Flower

I’m aware most of my readers have left their teenage times far behind and sure, some of those hashtagging #goals on others’ pictures of their flat abs, pittoresque homes and adorable children are probably meant in a joking way. But Instagram is [second] home to many impressionable young girls [and boys?] who might not be all that secure in their identities. What hashtaggin #goals does is not only showing admiration for somebody else’s life but in subtly voicing a feeling of mediocrity on the commenter’s part.Plus, envy for others’ lives isn’t reserved to Instagram or the times you hashtag #goals. Who hasn’t read blogs feeling another person had the perfect job/family/relationship/vacations?

Having goals and comparing is part of life and completely okay. Only not if it makes us feel lesser-than. At the end of the day, the people who are others’ #goals are humans, too. Like you and me. Perfect just the way we are.

Happiness-inducing today: Receiving a letter by a friend living far away.

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What are your thoughts on the topic? Have you noticed the #goals phenomenon? Are you aware of it as bloggers?

What to think about before you post.

It’s Thursday already!? If it wasn’t for both my calendar and laptop telling me this I’d be in denial.   Either way, after failing to publish my already drafted WIAW post yesterday thanks to no internet connection – me and technology don’t get along well so don’t ask what all I tried to fix it … – I’m following Amanda‘s invitation to think out loud once more. Let’s see where typing a post in a spur of the moment decision leads …

Thinking-Out-Loud

What inspired this post is a multitude of experiences and thoughts so bear with me as I’m trying to work out a clear line. This will very much follow Amanda’s no-script suggestion of Thinking out loud so there we go …

You set a new PR at the gym.

You’re working in an amazing high-paying job.

So you quit sugar, refined flour and all of these other nasty, nasty ingredients.

In short: you have accomplished something in life and are proud. Rightly so. In a world where self-doubt is a prominent characteristic enhanced by many magazines and websites telling us how to improve our [perceived] flaws and always be prettier/happier/[insert adjective of choice] it’s great to see people proud of theirselves and feeling comfortable in their skin. But …

Don’t let your confidence diminish that of others. I will not tell you to hide your pride altogether because like I said: it’s great you’re feeling good about yourself! Yet I think some people are taking their pride and talking about it too far.

favourite magazines

Taking pictures of your ab progress because you worked hard and you’re proud of getting where you are? is Understandable. You couldn’t be more excited to tell everybody on Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere how much better you feel since changing your diet to vegan/paleo/sugar-free? Understandable.

I’m still standing in for my opinion on Instagram: it’s your choice what to post and talk about. But for the sake of others it might be a good idea to occasionally consider if your pride has the potential of hurting others. Seeing too many ab shots or hearing people about their weight loss success while you’re in recovery from an eating disorder [or while ‘just’ recovering from an injury that keeps you from training], trying to gain could be discouraging and lead to unsatisfying comparison. But why are you following these people in anyway, then? <- I personally choose not to follow those people but from what I’ve seen and heard others in recovery say it affected them.

The same goes for people who show pictures of their pedometers/fit bits/Polar watches. If you do it: ask yourself why. What might this make your Facebook ‘friends’ or followers on Instagram feel like? Does the text you wrote aboutyour epiphany since you gave up sugar sound judgemental towards those who like their sweet treats? Is your progress picture potentially triggering?

The takeaway here? Don’t be less proud of what you’ve accomplished. But before you go about sharing your pride all over the place keep in mind how it might affect others. Everybody is on their own journey but it’s hard not to get distracted or discouraged when comparison is lurking all over the place.

 

Happiness-inducing today: Successfully work on a presentation [about Immigration in the US] with the exchange student I’m teaching – both of us were learning from each other which is the best kind in my opinion.

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No specific questions today but I’m curious to hear your thoughts and experiences on the issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compelled to compare?

Instagram. Facebook. The blog world. It’s everywhere: Comparison. Not a new phenomenon but one that I feel has been heightened to unknown expansion through social media these past years. And to be honest? It’s making me sad. Because you know introductions aren’t my favourites I decided to give you a glimpse into my brain in today’s or better yet: explain how this post came about. It was when being out and about with my mum and once more noticed how little she cares about what others do. Eat. Wear. And that’s when I decided to put my rambling thinking cap on. Or thinking beanie if you’re living in the same climate as our sweet host Amanda where spring hasn’t sprung yet.

Thinking-Out-Loud

To make the Just the other day, I saw a girl on Instagram asking her followers about sugar. Or more specifically: if the recommended daily intake of it included fruit because she was worrying about her daily huge smoothies. What makes me sad isn’t the mere fact we tend to get fussed about sugar. Or the whole carb scare in general. It’s the fact that these days, there doesn’t seem to be any aspect of life left where we don’t feel constantly compelled to compare ourselves to others. Food. Appearance. Workouts. Jobs. I could go on.

Because I’m definitely not trying to pretend I was above all of this and able to completely blind out any and all advice and discussion on social media I’ll give a personal example: What I ate Wednesday. At the beginning of my recovery I’d read through other people’s WIAWs for hours. Always comparing what they ate to myself.  Guess what that meant? If nobody else* was eating [insert amount of] chocolate, too, I felt guilty. Not normal. If I had carbs at every meal but others didn’t … you guessed it: guilt. Not normal? No. What wasn’t normal was a) my need to compare and b) the guilt I felt about following my cravings.

* 1. I obviously didn’t read every single WIAW post so maybe somebody did after all? 2. If I had simply looked around myself I’d have seen plenty of family members and friends eating whole chocolate bars on the regular. Reminder: the blog world only shows a tiny part of the world’s population.

Lindt chocolate

We seek approval for ‘doing things right’. Is it okay to eat xx pieces of chocolate a day? Doesthat dress look okay on me or should I rather wear something more loosely fitting to conceal my ‘trouble areas’? Is it okay to take more than one rest day? Whew, okay, thanks …. wait … are you sure? Really?

Have we truly become this insecure in our own decisions? Where has intuition [not just related to food] gone? Can we not make any of these decision all by ourselves anymore? I agree it’s helpful to get some guidance and advice here and there – we all get by with a little help from our friends after all. But it has become increasinly popular to trust others more than our own gut. Having the whole world with all its knowledge, advice and others to compare ourselves to in every aspect of life is a questionable blessing.

Source

We probably can’t/don’t want to pull ourselves out of all kinds of social media involvent. But the next time you’re considering a rest day don’t look for advice in others. Check in with yourself: what would feel good for you at this very moment? The next time you want that cupcake? Eat it if you crave it. Nobody else eats or exercises for you – why should they have the power to make these decisions for you?

Source

… and with that I’m stepping aside and opening up the stage for you to speak your mind!

Happiness-inducing today: Another sunny day.

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Why I don’t want to be famous [anymore].

For as long as I can remember I’ve admired other people. Some might call them role models but I can’t quite agree here. More on that in a minute. Some of those people for me were:

Singers for their amazing voices when I can hardly hit a few tunes right.

Models for their [seemingly] flawless appearance and traveling the world [and really, how many girls’ answer to the question of their dream job is model, too?!]

Actors for being in movies all over the world and leading exciting lives.

In short there have always been people I looked up and wished I was alike with.  However, there’s a difference between showing respect and admiration for others achievement, their talents andlives –  and making yourself small. I firmly believe that God created all of us with our unique talents and destined our ways in life. I firmly believe that God created all of us with our unique talents and destined our ways in life. None of us are scarce of talent, passions, lovable traits. Yes, you, too, are special. Just because you’re not playing concerts in sold out stadiums or jet-setting the world doesn’t mean you’re less worthy.

What I do when I’m feeling so small in this huge  world again is reminding myself that no matter how far some people have come and how famous they are: they’re human,  too. Sensible to criticism. They have the same essential needs like you: they need to eat, sleep, pee  – why, yes? They’re not looking any more graceful in certain situations, either [think: bathroom]. They don’t feel super hot and are sparkling in their heavenly bubbles all day every day, either.

And think about it that way: we’re better off than them at times. While yes, we feel the pressure to perform best at work, in school or at the gym – we’re not under the constant hawk-like attention of millions of people all over the world. Isn’t it nice to leave the gym sweaty and not give a damn about who sees you? Not having to go for a run when you’d rather lounge on the couch? To go on however many dates with whichever guys without seeing it in every tabloid the next second? Being “normal” not famous sounds pretty good now, don’t you think?

Thinking-Out-Loud

So sorry, Miranda Kerr, you might be taller than me, travel the world  and date hot guys  [what about that Tom Cruise Gossip, though?  Not cool.] but I’d rather be eating chocolate, not strut my stuff in a bikini on a catwalk with thousands of people watching and be as grumpy as I want occasionally instead of putting on a happy face every day.

For further perspective I’ll highly recommend this great post  by Irina once more. We all are made from the same material and none of us matter any more or less in the vastness that is the universe.

And now get thinking out loud, too, and tell me any thoughts you have on the topic!

 

Happiness-inducing today: Turning a task that started unsuccessful around at work and talking to my sister on the phone.

 

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