It’s time to graduate from high school (social media high school)

We are adults.  Many of us have graduated from high school, and we have set out to create something magnificent: A business that will make us happy. But in the process of building and brainstorming ideas, we often revert back to high school.

We look back at what everybody was wearing, and we begin to feel bad about what we are wearing. You start to think back to your first day of high school, when you were filled with confidence and ready to take on the world. Then, you flashback to that special girl, the one that looks so cute it hurts. Her shoes are fab, and you stare at them. But instead of appreciating how gorgeous they are and telling her that she looks great you look down at your own shoes. The shoes you loved this morning, but now you hate. You hate them because they are ugly, which turns into the thought that you are ugly. Then, all of a sudden, high school becomes the worst place in the world, and you start fantasizing about how college will be different because you will be the coolest. You cannot wait until you FINALLY get to college in that new town far, far away, where hopefully you will just be the coolest.

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That situation and those feelings and behaviors happen ALL of the time on social media. And not just by teenagers whose brains aren’t fully developed, but by adults who are both wildly talented and smart. Many adults compare themselves to others, just like they did in high school. They constantly make the decision to obsess over people who make them feel bad about themselves. Now I don’t know about you, but in every other aspect of my life I avoid situations that make me feel shitty about myself. So start standing up for yourself, and stop caring about the petty things that you stressed about in high school!

You may ask yourself why this happens and why we continuously revert back to high school. And, to tell you the truth, this happens because we are simply human.

We do this because we are in an environment where everyone is connected and has the opportunity to express how awesome they are (just like high school). In high school, we focused on who had the cutest boyfriend, the cutest clothes, the best grades, the best athletic skills and so on. And, as an adult, those behaviors are hard to escape! For example, sometimes I forget there is a world outside of the online business, and I am sure you have your own online circle that helps you forget the outside world, too.

The internet is similar; however, I think it’s a gazillion times worse because the people who our social media platforms favor are AMAZING at what they do. Their work is direct and impossible to ignore, and we choose to follow these people because they are “inspiring.” As professionals, we want the perfect website, the 30k followers, the trendiest Instagram, etc. All of that is okay, but it is important to remember reality. You have to learn to let go of the “super important” things that aren’t relevant in your life anymore, like that time you hid and cried in the bathroom because ________(insert name) dumped you. For real, though, you only dated for two days, and you got over it.

But, unfortunately, situations like that heartbreaking break-up happen online, too. I have cried over something someone has directed toward me on social media. It hurt and it was a big deal, but as time passed I decided to ignore that person and now I realize how ridiculous it was.

How to graduate from social media high school

You are not alone.

It’s important to know that the person who has made you feel bad has most likely made others feel bad, too. Acknowledge the fact that there are other online business owners who are going through the same struggles as you, and in that moment when everything is such a BIG DEAL take a moment and know that someone else felt that way and they got through it. You can even start a conversation in a Facebook group or on your own social media platforms. People will come out of the woodworks and offer their stories and support. This can be really encouraging during those times when owning your own business feels out of control.

Take back the reigns.

We have control over our social media platforms by choosing who we follow and who we don’t follow. We can also decide what pieces of content to look at, which is something people tend to forget. So my homework for you is to unfollow people. Let go of the fear that they won’t like you (hello high school) and honor your space. If someone makes you feel bad, unfollow them. If someone is so awesome that they make you feel jealous, unfollow them. If you are tired of hearing someone blab, unfollow them. Unfollowing these people will make your social space soooo much more enjoyable. You have control, so take it.

Let it go.

You don’t need to pay any attention to anything anyone has to say about you. Honestly, people will either like you online or they won’t. So whatever the situation is that you are holding onto, let it go. Also, don’t engage with people who are saying or doing things that you don’t like. That, my friends, is a waste of energy.

Embrace and support your competition.

This is one of keys to making it as an entrepreneur. You will have loads of “competition,” and they could get you down really fast if you view them as such. Everyone has his or her little corner of awesomeness. Reach out to competitors, talk to them, collaborate with them and support each other. Invite them to your lunch table and share your Oreos.

Go outside.

It’s such a shame that I even have to say this. No worries, I am not on a high horse. I have to remind myself to do this all of the time. Going outside is essential to our well-being as humans. We were meant to be outside. It also helps us break up the social media and email cycles that we get ourselves into.

Go outside of your circle, and talk to people who aren’t in your industry. Go to an event or class that has nothing to do with your online circle. When we allow ourselves to leave the circle, we give ourselves more to hang onto. Going to three blogger conferences when you are a blogger does not count, okay! Many of the same people are there, and that isn’t going outside of your circle.

Do something that gives you perspective.

Find something that reminds you that there is a big, wondrous world out there. It can be something small like reading an inspiring book or being present while playing with your kids. For me, I watch documentaries. It reminds me that there are bigger issues and amazing things in our world. So when I am watching a movie about dolphins talking (or whatever), I realize that the fact that a famous blogger rejected my guest post pitch really isn’t a big deal. I could start a podcast with the dolphins! Now that would get me some attention. ;)

So there you have it. You now know how to graduate from social media high school. If you have any other tips or advice, feel free to put them in the comments!