Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash

It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife

Alanis Morisette.

Imagine your car stops in the middle of the road because you’ve run out of gas/petrol/diesel. You need just two litres to get to your destination and you have five litres of water in the back seat. Would you pour that water into your tank?

I don’t think so. I’m no motor mechanic but that sounds like a bad idea. Five litres is more than the volume (quantity/amount) you need but five litres of water doesn’t give you the value of what you need- fuel, to get home. You’re better off jogging home and sipping water as you go so you don’t get dehydrated.

I can sum up my 2016 in four words; my tank was empty. It was hurdle after hurdle and I couldn’t catch a break.
Friendships? Falling apart.
Grades? Dropping.
Mental health? In shambles.
Hotel? Trivago.

I was down in the doldrums, that is the bottom line. In April 2016, I thought I’d found a way out; Instagram. We hear a lot of things about “don’t base your worth on the number of likes you get” and we scoff and think no-one in their right mind would ever consider that.

It is a myth to some people, I for one believed that there’s no-one who actually gets moved by the number of follows and likes they receive until I became that person. I got to a stage where I told myself that if I got a certain number of people to follow me and a certain number of likes then my tank would be filled and I would feel complete.

Fast forward to the August holidays (this is before the algorithm had changed) I would follow hundreds of people overnight and accept the follow requests of those who followed back the following morning – consistently for a couple of days and voila, I reached my target. Let’s not forget my obsession with “influencers” my wish was to get at least one of my favourites to follow me back.

I came to realise that 2,500 wasn’t enough. I’ve forgotten the specific number I’d set for likes but all I remember is that the bar just kept getting higher and higher for both the likes and number of followers. A picture would be at 546 likes and I’d say “It needs to get to 600” I would get to 619 and I’d say “700″ and that’s how it was for a while. I was glued to my phone scouring Instagram for people to follow my account and like my pictures. I remember later that year, in November, on my 14th birthday one of my posts was on 896 likes, 4 away from 900 and I said: “900 is too little, I need 1k.” I spent time with my family that day, ate a whole lot, got cards from friends when I went back to school on Tuesday (I fell ill from all the food so I skipped Monday) but my birthday felt like a non-event because I didn’t reach that number. Ridiculous, right?

Somewhere along the lines, our WiFi modem got destroyed during a thunderstorm and I was not on Instagram as often as I wanted to be. It was out of sight but not out of mind, I would think about my comeback and what it would be like. I wasn’t living for myself, I was living for that app and instead of treasuring time with my family at family gatherings, my mind would be racing…
“The lighting is great I can take a picture of this”

My wish was to be accepted and valued and acceptance to me looked like lots of Instagram notifications.

The year was drawing to an end and I had a heart to heart conversation with myself about the course my year had taken. I still felt like something was missing despite the traffic my profile received and I realised that even if I was at 10,000 followers I still wouldn’t be content. 100,000 is a huge volume of people but it wouldn’t bring me the value. It was up to me to affirm myself and not leave it up to strangers to validate my existence.

I’m not saying social media is the worst thing on the planet, I am saying that it is not the place for you to garner your self-esteem. Emphasis on “self.” You can be happy while you surf the net, accept yourself first and you’ll be good to go.

Self-acceptance is a topic for another day and it is Easier Said Than Done.

Again, with the adage, “Don’t base your worth on the number of likes and follows you have.” 

That’s my story, yours could be different, there are so many things we could have in large volumes that fail to give us fulfilment and value, it’s not just followers. You could be very well-read, have loads of friends, jewellery, music… the list is long, but if you do not value yourself and believe you are enough then nothing will ever be enough for you.

Let’s end with a piece from a song by 4Him, Measure of A Man

Oh, I say the measure of a man
Is not how tall you stand
How wealthy or intelligent you are
‘Cause I’ve found out the measure of a man
God knows and understands
For He looks inside to the bottom of your heart
And what’s in the heart defines
The measure of a man