“Why would I read this article? Who does she think she is? I’m way more experienced and qualified. Plus, I’ve never heard of her before. She won’t have anything valuable to say.”
“I’ll never have the courage to publish one of my articles for others to read. She’s so brave putting herself out there. I wish I could do that, too.”
Which side did you sway towards?
Does my non-celebrity status take points away from my credentials as a writer? Or am I intimidating because I don’t have a fear of publishing my articles for anyone to see?
It happens so naturally, I see you and you see me. We look at what we each have publicly displayed as accomplishments, then we measure each other up. You are no longer a connection, you are my competition.
Social media can certainly be a catalyst to this complicated dynamic; however, before social media existed, humans have been perfecting this skill for ages. We see someone with something impressive, and we risk feeling inadequate.
It doesn’t matter how hard we have worked for our accomplishments, because when we see someone else doing better, it can feel like we’re not doing enough.
You can try to tell yourself it doesn’t affect you, but believing your words can be tough.
Every day that I sign onto LinkedIn, my website, Instagram, and Facebook, I come across those who are more successful than me. Or at least, those are the optics. Their staggering number of followers, likes, and shares are hard not to be intimidated by. I could simply agree that success is determined by numbers, which might make accepting things easier, but there is so much more to consider.
It is becoming increasingly easier to look successful on social media. Beyond your stats, enters material objects. Expensive items foster the perception of success – because how else could you afford those things? A big, beautiful home in the background surely means that you can afford it. Your perfectly manicured and maintained body must mean that you have a chef, personal trainer, stylist and hair and make-up team. With every evaluation, the “success” metre increases.
If those are true, then kudos to you. But what if they aren’t true?
What if your optics have a bigger fall out than you expected?
For example: Along comes someone new to Instagram, let’s use me as an example, and I come across your page and find myself feeling intimidated and overwhelmed at your perceived success. You are not approachable or relatable – yet we are both in the same field.
I begin to wonder what I am doing wrong and what you could be doing right? I question my methods, approaches, and business.
“Well Leah, then don’t look at my pictures if they upset you.”
It’s not so much that they are upsetting but they set the success scale so artifically high that it creates a misleading view of success – and what it means to be successful.
Do you ever see any of the tech giants holding expensive purses or material items to show their wealth? No. Because their business success speaks for itself.
Can the same be said for the Instagram account that you follow that only totes how wealthy they have become because of 10 easy steps? 10 easy steps that anyone can do for a small, nominal fee?
What are we actually selling to each other? Why are we so secretive about our journey to success – and failure.
Be aware when you are reading and absorbing that style of content, as it is meant to lead you down a sales funnel that preys on your desperation or misguided expectations about wealth and success. Value the stages of your journey as they are similar stages to those who are very successful and don’t gloat about it. Success in life takes way more than ten steps and if they were that easy, you wouldn’t appreciate your climb.
Avoid letting distracting optics create artificial value around your worth. And on the flip side, if you are successful and wealthy, why make your journey to success a secret? Shouldn’t we be encouraging others to be just as successful?
Turn down the competition, and turn up the transparency. In the beginning of this article, if you were one of the people who swayed towards judging my success based off an unknown presence, have you changed your mind? Did I provide something of value to you?
If you swayed towards being intimidated by me, am I still intimidating? Could you have written something like this and released it?
It’s hard to be successful with so many artificial perceptions of success. Best advice: keep working hard, bettering your skill set, and being brave. Don’t associate wealth with success – instead, associate success with grit.