HOW TO DEAL WITH SOCIAL MEDIA-RELATED CAREER ANXIETY
This week, a young Australian woman named Essena O'Neill made headlines by exposing the reality behind her carefully-curated Instagram feed (complete with half a million followers) and calling out for more of us quit social media on the grounds that it's "contrived perfection made to get attention."
O'Neill's campaign is focused mostly on the damaging effects of heavily edited imagery on young women's personal body image, but it inevitably led me to think about how social media can negatively impact the way we feel about our work. Who hasn't felt a pang of envy upon seeing that someone they follow is on a glamorous overseas work trip, or felt inadequate after realising a competitor has ten times' the number of followers you do? If you can relate to social media-related career envy, here are some ideas on how to keep those negative thoughts and feelings at bay.
By this point, we're all slowly beginning to realise that that fitness blogger's perfect abs may well have been achieved with a little help from Photoshop, or that the parties with dedicated hashtags are rarely any fun. It's important to remember that this applies to professional posts, too. If anything, we're even more selective about the work news we share on Instagram than we are with our selfies, which means that our perceptions of other people's career paths are shaped by heavy omission. For every new partnership or fancy product launch you see on someone's feed, there are a dozen failed pitches and lost commissions that went unposted. Try to bear that in mind when you're next engaging in the endless scroll.
Don't Watch The Competition
In the ENDURANCE conversation at The WW Club at 45 Grand, OpenSponsorship founder Ishveen Anand gave some wise advice on watching your competition: namely that you just shouldn't. Her argument is that by keeping your eye on other people's business moves, you're putting yourself two steps behind – essentially gauging your success on something someone else has already done. The takeaway? It's good to stay aware of trends and news in your chosen industry, but don't let yourself get too consumed with the individual success stories of others.
Don't Be Bitter, Be Better
Sharmadean Reid often reiterates this, and it couldn't be more true. Whether you're getting green-eyed over an acquaintance's promotion or a friend's fancy new website, your response should be the same: use the envy to help you identify the root of your own feelings of inadequacy, and do something about it. Feel like you should be making more money/travelling with work/getting commissioned by bigger and better brands? It's all on you to make it happen, woman! And you can.
Practice What You Preach
It's somewhat pointless to feel threatened or demoralised by someone's else's social media feed when you're engaging in duplicity of your own. I'm not suggesting you upload screengrabs of your less-than-impressive bank balance, but a little bit of humility never goes amiss. I'm always telling people that I'm frequently confused, overwhelmed and outright exhausted - both in person and on this site! - because I believe that honesty helps us to connect with others, and that's what The WW Club is all about.
REMEMBER WHY YOU STARTED
To my mind, the most truly damaging aspect of social media career envy is its potential to derail you (a million times a day!) from your own unique path. One moment you're happily working on your long term goals, checking things off your to-do list...and the next you're asking yourself why you haven't won an award or published a story in a national magazine, like the girl who just shared an image of herself doing exactly that.
Nothing will impede your progress more than constantly stopping to readjust your priorities and goals in light of the achievements of others. Remind yourself daily what you're trying to achieve - and why - and you'll be far less likely to get distracted by someone else's definition of success.
If all else fails: you know what to do.