I'd picked up a brochure from the Chiropractor of a local personal trainer. She had done her marketing well. The images, words and copy appealed to me and I was curious to learn more. At that stage I was going through a phase on Instagram so I jumped on to see if I could find her...sure enough, with 24k followers there she was. I was lured into her beautifully curated feed with gorgeous pictures, exercise tips and great stretching moves.
As weeks went by I followed her feed and watched as the photos appeared, slowly I grew curious of who she was. I felt myself feeling jealous of this perfectly sculpted human who appeared to have the most incredible life. Her feed intrigued me and I started to paint a picture of this person and what her life was like. So polished, so successful, so happy. I have to admit I was a little turned off about how perfect I'd made this girl seem. Simply by watching her Instagram feed. I'd started to create opinions, make judgements and even decide if I really liked her or not.
Soon after, I found myself treating her as one of my clients on the massage table. Finally I was meeting her in the flesh. "Wow - she is so down to earth", I remember thinking to myself. Very confident, very friendly and not exactly the perfectionist picture I'd painted of her in my jealousy-torn state while scrolling Instagram.
We spoke about training and I was interested in her knowledge. I was looking for some inspiration - maybe a trainer? I wasn't exactly sure. I could tell she was really passionate about what she did. She loved her profession and knew a lot about exercise, movement, fitness and a healthy lifestyle. Before too long, I'd booked my first PT session.
Are you judging someone incorrectly based on what you see online? And how would you know?
- You love seeing the amazing images they post, but deep down you roll your eyes and sigh at their perfectionism.
- You're always checking out their online profile but never actually liking or engaging in their content.
- You see someone's social profile as their reality, you imagine they have the perfect life, so much fun, success and popularity.
- You're wondering why you can't have some of those qualities and feel slightly depressed because you're comparing yourself to them without even knowing their reality.
Social media creates a warped perception of reality. Everyone chooses what they want to put out into the world. For some it's a sea of inspiration and motivational posts trying to uplift their communities. Others share anything and everything and even air their dirty laundry. People post when they are traveling of the amazing adventures they are having. Some share a mixture of both and maybe the more 'real' side of life. For some people it's a business tool and they use marketing creatively to attract their ideal clients. If we are not careful we easily fall into the comparison trap by seeing what someone chooses to post as their real life. If we engage in this activity too often we start to turn our focus outwards on the others and not our self.
After a few sessions with my trainer, I realised she was not the personality I had crafted in my mind. Her personality was much more down to earth and lovable than I'd painted. As much as I'd liked her online, I loved her 100 times more in real life. I loved she was not always on time, I loved that she got dates mixed up, I loved that she got confused calculating how much change to give me, I loved hearing that she had bad days (I didn't love the fact she had bad days, just to know that she was human and went through these times too.)
So I ask you - are you comparing your real self to someone's social profile? Perhaps you're comparing your starting point to someone's middle point. Are you too interested in what everyone else is doing rather than creating something for yourself?
How can you break this habit?
- If possible - step closer to this person, get to know them personally, have conversations, meet them in real life. Hear their story and their hardships.
- Be happy for whatever inspiration they are giving you. Choose love instead of fear, love hard on everything they do and look at the positives you are getting from this person.
- Cut back on the online stalking. Start spending your time on loving and improving yourself.
- Learn to understand that someone's social profile is not a direct representation of who they really are.
Since meeting, working and developing a beautiful friendship with my trainer in just under two years, I have stumbled across others who were of the same opinion as me about this beautifully sculpted fitness goddess. When I hear their descriptions and comments around her I remember how I once perceived her in that way too. I explain my story about how I once judged and compared in this way but quickly changed my opinion after getting to know her at a deeper level.
But you will never really know someone unless you go through this process yourself. Stop comparing, stop judging, stop seeing people at face value. Have the confidence to take that step further and create meaningful, soul-filled relationships.
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