It’s very common for people to look out at the world, compare themselves to abstract “others,” and to think that they are not measuring up. Everyone else seems to be having a great time and you’re missing out on all the fun. This is especially true when it comes to social media. People post pictures of themselves experiencing what appears to be the grandest of times. Scrolling through those photos, seeing everyone having what appears to be a great time, can make you feel bad. It can make it seem like everyone else is having fun and you’re not. It’s easy to become envious of others who appear to be “living the best life.”
It’s important to remember that those images are, in a very real sense, doctored. They are not real. Not only are those images often literally embedded with filters, but people tend to post only the most positive aspects of their lives on their social media feeds. They omit the pictures in which they don’t look their best or when they’re unhappy, and so forth. People simply don’t post pictures of themselves in unhappy situations, at least not to the degree in which they post pictures of themselves having fun. This creates a false reality. In modern times, it can be difficult to avoid making comparisons between yourself and the social media images which many of us consume.
In fact, researchers have found that individuals, particularly adolescents, who spend large amounts of time on social media, have an increased level of depression. This mostly stems from people comparing themselves to the happy people they see on social media and judging themselves to be not as good. As a result, one’s mental health suffers. Individuals may come to believe that they are not as good as the people they see on social media.
In your case, you seem to be making comparisons between yourself and other people and then judging yourself harshly. In other words, you basically see other people having a great time and feel like you are “awful and monstrous.” Everyone else seems to be having a better time than you and in your mind, you are the problem.
You also mentioned that you basically had “no proper romantic relationships in your life.” The use of the word “proper” indicates that there is certain number of romantic relationships you “should” have had by now. The reality is there is no number of romantic relationships you “should” have had at this time in your life.
In reality, there are no rules about how many friends or romantic relationships you “should” have had by your age. Thus, if there are no rules, then you should not feel bad about having only a certain number of friends or relationships.
In fact, some of the psychologically healthiest people have only a few friends. That’s because true friendships take a great deal of time to develop. Having many friends may mean that those friendships are of a shallow nature. Have you considered that you may be doing things right, and that other people may be doing things wrong?
Often, when people presume the worst about themselves, it is because they may have low self-esteem, which can be indicative of depression. To know if you have depression, consider having an in-person evaluation with a therapist. They would be in the best position to know if something is wrong and most importantly, can advise you about methods to correct it. Give therapy a try. It could change your thinking to be more in line with reality. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle