PSA for All Twenty-Something-Year-Olds:
BEWARE! Facebook and Instagram have been taken over by engagement rings, babies, and weddings- oh my! Be vigilant as you scroll down your feed as new pictures and statuses are being posted constantly.
Users should also be cautious of postings regarding “sold” signs in front of white picket homes, big red bows on top of cars, and cakes, balloon-boxes, and even baseballs that are pink or blue inside.
These messages will try to convince you that your worth is directly linked to these “accomplishments.” If you notice yourself feeling less worthy, keep reading…
So Many Posts, So Little Self-Esteem
How many posts can you find in a minute that could file under the above PSA?? Well, I was curious about this and after a 60-second timer went off, I saw 12 posts after I scrolled through my feed.
Further, according to a recent Nielsen report, the average millennial spends 6 hours and 19 minutes a week on social media. That means we could see 4,548 engagement, wedding, house buying, and baby posts a week!! A WEEK PEOPLE. I don’t even want to know how many we would see in a year.
“The more we suppress our true identities, struggles, and imperfections, the more DISCONNECTED we feel!”
Of course, emerging adults (the age of feeling “in between”, 18-25), think adulting is confusing! We are telling them (and they are telling themselves) that becoming an adult means living a life that is picture perfect.
It seems safe to say that these messages are being sent LOUD and oh so clear to all emerging adults. BUT- you know how many posts I saw about doctor visits, budgeting, 401k plans, insurance, and other really important adulting things in 60 seconds… or ever? ZERO.
Examples of Big Questions That Emerging Adults Face:
- Do I want to schedule a yearly checkup with my doctor or just hope I’m all good?
- Do I want to start paying back my student loans or click around on Amazon Prime because I’m having a rare, fleeting moment of feeling rich?
- Where am I going to work for my career?
- Do I really need to renew my passport?
- Should I buy new tires now and how expensive are they?
- Which insurance coverage do I want? (Wait, do I currently have insurance?)
- Which 401K plan do I want?
- What type of loan do I want to take out? And when will I need to start paying it back?
- What type of characteristics do I want in a life partner?
- Do I want thin or thick crust for my pizza?
These questions don’t have answers where we can pose with a pretty piece of jewelry or cake with marbled icing. These questions are tough, anxiety-provoking, and don’t have one correct answer.
This… THIS is why being an emerging adult is so difficult!
In the midst of absorbing messages from social media about how life could or should be, twenty-somethings are learning how to trudge through the messy imperfectly behind the scenes… and often doing it alone.
Here Is the Biggest Paradox:
As humans, we are wired for connection. Therefore, it makes sense that we enjoy “sharing” anything related to relationships- it shows the world we are doing okay!
“I made this connection and got engaged! I am worthy of connection!”
However, amidst all the posting, emerging adults are forgetting how to create an authentic connection. Twenty-somethings are starting to outsmart the algorithms on Facebook by perfecting… the more that a post looks like we are making these exciting connections, the happier I look, the more beautiful the event is, the more I will be accepted by peers.
“Disconnecting from social media for a month can help you put more time into relationships that are close to you in proximity.”
Yet here is the paradox: the more emerging adults (or anyone for that matter) suppress their true identities and struggles, the more we hide our imperfections, the more DISCONNECTED we feel! You might be able to understand this kind of disconnection if you think back to the last time you felt like you needed to impress someone- it is exhausting!
On the other hand, spending time with people where you can be yourself- speak freely and know you won’t be judged, that sense of belonging gives us peace.
So, Now What?
I think it is safe to say that social media culture isn’t going to change anytime soon. But what we do have the ability to change is our outlook on social media and the way we filter what we see.
Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words, so imagine how many different thoughts someone could have after seeing 12 pictures of their friends looking so happy when they are feeling down about themselves.
If you catch yourself making meaning about yourself from posts on social media and generating poor self-talk, try a few of these tricks:
1. Remember Your Priorities
I think it is a dang shame people don’t have parties for when they get a job but they have them for when they are engaged. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
Did you recently get a job?? Did you recently graduate?? Did you ace an assignment you worked hard on? Celebrate! Invite friends over!
2. State the Facts
Ask yourself- “what exactly is in this picture?”
This can prevent people from snowballing which sounds like… “Dan just bought a house?! I still live in my parents’ house and I probably will stay here forever and maybe I am a ‘failure to launch’ kid after all. I can’t believe he bought a house. I’m such a failure”
This catastrophic thinking can be very dangerous! On the other hand, stating the facts would sound like this, “Oh, Dan is standing in front of a house. Hm.”
We don’t know if Dan actually bought the house or not- we don’t know if he is renting the house- we don’t know if his parents or grandparents helped him purchase the house- we don’t anything other than Dan is standing in front of a house.
3. Think Back to Accomplishments You Have Made Today
Are you killin’ it at work? Did your boss recently tell you how they appreciate you? Did you make your bed today? Take a moment to celebrate all of your accomplishments so far (small and large)!
4. Maybe Take a Break from Social Media
Disconnect from Facebook/Instagram for a month to have a social media cleanse. This can help you put more time into relationships that are close to you in proximity. Ask your roommate out to coffee or lunch. Maybe call your parents to say hi.
5. Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Simply being aware of your thoughts can be empowering! If you notice you are having negative thoughts about yourself every time you get on social media then refer back to number 3.
You have the power to choose how you see yourself! I strongly recommend downloading this app to start or even continue a mindfulness practice.
6. Consider Seeing a Counselor
Emerging adulthood can be so anxiety provoking! Everyone says being that age is “the best years of your life” but what if it feels like the opposite?
Asking for help is the bravest thing anyone can do and having a nonbiased and supportive person on your team can help diminish overwhelming anxiety and sadness.