It was just another night filled with anxiety about my appearance.
It’s hard not to feel anxious when looking through the bright and glossy internet celebrities on Instagram and TikTok. People seem so happy online.
In contrast, my Instagram story consists of posts with ugly photos of me and long paragraphs, venting my emotions.
Well, that’s what I’ve always considered myself to be: the average one.
Discouraged, I threw my phone away — as if I were throwing away my worries — and emptied my mind to sleep.
It was just a melodramatic catharsis.
I always find myself examining my face and body in the mirror, like there’s a formula of what I am supposed to be. The advertisements for beauty products on the internet exude sophistication from every pore. Even though I am aware that what people post on the internet is edited, I still get depressed knowing my ideal self seems out of reach.
Fake face, fake fantasies.
I overindulged in it. Social media became my “wanna-be.” In one moment, the temptation of materialism and desire erodes my mind and sends me crashing into the abyss of imagination. In another, the series of exams and deadlines pull me back to reality. I look at the messes in my life and get anxious.
I try to create the ideal image of myself on social media. It seems more accessible than becoming my perfect self in the real world.
The screen-time function on my phone tells me that I spend 30 to 40 hours a week on social media. That’s almost a full-time job. The time I spend on social media feeds not only my anxieties about my appearance, but my anxieties about my career, my relationships and my personality.
That is what social media brings me: endless anxiety.
And I know I’m not alone. Social media should be a product that connects us to the world, but it has alienated us from the real world. People are so addicted to building an imaginary persona online that they forget to develop their real-life selves.
Growth is formed through real-life experiences. We receive all kinds of fragmented data through social media without systematically learning how to process it all. Social media doesn’t make us better people.
Instead, it makes us impatient, scatterbrained individuals.
One of my goals this semester is to abstain from social media for a month. I want to spend that time doing everything I want to do, but normally don’t because of the time I waste on social media. I plan on going to the gym to alleviate my insecurities about my appearance. I also want to further my photography skills with the camera I bought many years ago, but never used. I wonder what kind of person I’d become after one month.
The root of appearance insecurity is not a result of physical image, but buried in the dust of the weak mind. Our insecurities are so humble and fragile. We all want to be seen, appreciated and treasured — not ashamed of who we are.
But right now, my insecurity follows me. Even on the good days, I find it stuck to the sole of my shoes, leaving tracks for everyone to see.
I want to tell the girls who also experience insecurity and anxiety: good looks are replicable, but what’s inside is irreplaceable.
Yakun Liu is an assistant multimedia editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Yakun Liu is an assistant multimedia editor at The Spectrum.