It’s relatively common that praise or compliments will boost your confidence, that isn’t abnormal but for me, my dependence on other people’s opinions to feel good about myself has become an unhealthy obsession.
I have never been confident in my appearance. I have suffered with disordered eating, a lot of anxiety and insecurity about my appearance and going through a breakup which was fuelled by infidelity has only lowered my opinion of myself even further.
So, how does the modern day young woman build herself back up when she’s feeling so utterly disgusting and worthless? Well, for me, I turned to social media.
I am a massive advocate for using social media in a positive and constructive way to share your struggles and help others by being open and as much as I try to do this, I have also fallen into the trap of craving likes to feel worth something.
It feels like an addiction, it sounds ridiculous but I am addicted to getting likes on Instagram. If you browse through my personal Instagram, it’s just picture after picture of me. The odd picture of my friends are thrown into the mix but in general, it’s just a steady stream of selfies, mirror pictures and snaps from before nights out.
So, why am I sharing picture after picture of myself looking as glamorous or as toned or as good as I can? I need the likes to carry on.
It sounds pathetic to say ‘I need likes’ off other people on Instagram to get on with my life but for someone with such a low opinion of themselves, other people’s compliments are what give me confidence and I know that is such a toxic mindset to be stuck in.
I think it’s perfectly normal to get a buzz off getting lots of likes on a new Instagram picture, even better if you get some nice comments and even better still if you get some lovely messages about it but for me, it’s the difference between my mood being rock bottom or sky high.
When you’re relying on the approval of other people on your appearance to feel good, like people giving you likes on an Instagram post to say ‘yes, you look good in this’, it’s a vicious cycle. There’s the high that comes with getting lots of likes. The elation of knowing people think you look attractive or they approve of what you’ve put out there but what happens when you don’t get the likes?
For me, if an Instagram post ‘flops’, so doesn’t get the normal amount of likes my posts average at, my confidence falls through the floor. The questions start running through my head: do I look fat in this picture? Do I look ugly in this picture? Does my face look weird? Do my legs look too big? Does my figure look chubby? And on, and on, and on.
It sounds crazy that a few less likes on an Instagram post could send your mind into such a frenzy about ‘what is wrong with me?’ but when you’ve become so dependent on the compliments and approval of others to feel good about yourself, you can’t help but be affected when you feel as though people aren’t giving you that nod of support by hitting the like button.
When you become like me, hooked on the buzz of getting likes, addicted to that feeling of confidence when your Instagram post does well, you simply can not stop. When getting compliments from other people is the only thing that fuels you to feel good about yourself, you can’t stop doing it.
The need for likes on social medial leaks outside of the online world and into your ‘real life’, affecting how you go about daily life. For example, I can’t simply have a good time with my friends before we head on a night out, I need them to take pictures of me for my Instagram before we can get on with drinking and having fun.
I’m not just talking a few snaps, there can be 100s of pictures on my camera roll and I wont stop until I’ve got one I’m happy will get the likes I want. I know a lot of girls do this before nights out but if I don’t get a picture before a night out, I’m not happy. I feel irritated, agitated I have nothing to upload the next day and genuinely concerned about when I’ll next have something to post.
I’m aware a lot of girls my age feel the same way about needing that love from the online world to feel some kind of worth and I think there’s nothing unhealthy about enjoying your pictures doing ‘well’ on sites such as Instagram when combined with having confidence in yourself too but for me, my confidence comes solely from how I am received on social media.
Compliments from friends and family about my intelligence, success, talents, that means nothing if my Instagram posts aren’t getting the likes because when you have no self-confidence in your looks, it becomes all about what other people think of your appearance.
Social media can be such a blessing for people with low self esteem and mental health problems but I’ve experienced first hand how becoming addicted to the feeling of getting likes can affect your confidence and your life, so to anyone who feels the same as me, only good enough when people like who they are online, you are more than that.
You are as full of worth and beautiful with 10 likes or 1,000 likes. Do not become hung up on the stats on your Instagram account, become obsessed with loving yourself without the support of others because that really is the key to a far happier, healthier mind.
The saying ‘a smile is the most beautiful thing someone can wear’ is so true and genuine happiness in yourself will make your look and feel a million times more attractive than someone forcing a smile, so if you feel yourself becoming obsessed with the compliments online to get by, take a step back.
Make yourself learn to love yourself without the approval of others. It’s a process and one I’m yet to truly embark on but fully intend to because self love truly is the most valuable kind of affection you can feel.