Someone I went to college with recently won a big award.
This person doesn’t like me.
As a matter of fact, almost all of the ambitious people that I went to college with don’t like me.
They’ve said unkind things about me behind my back.
These people are lauded for their accomplishments at my university, while I and my work have been looked down on by the people who praise them.
I’ve never understood it.
When I saw that the award was won, I decided to look at their social media profile, and they have a lot of likes, which spiraled my mind into a place of comparison and shame: “I didn’t measure up,” “I wasn’t good enough,” and “Why wasn’t I accepted?”
These are hard moments. These are the moments that people talk about when they speak of the dangers of social media.
After entering that dark place, I reminded myself: the likes don’t matter, so what if I never understand why they didn’t like me, and I shouldn’t expect to be liked or praised by everyone – nor should I want to be liked by people who would judge and treat me so unfairly.
The only people whose opinions matter are the ones who show us that they care about us, the few that take the time to get to know who we really are.
Also, a part of growing up is growing comfortable with the fact that other people’s lack of grace or kindness must not define your happiness or your actions. There are only three metrics of success that matter:
- Whether, overall, you are living the life you want, doing the work you want to do, and making the changes in the world that you seek to make;
- The number of meaningful moments shared; and
- The amount of love felt.
The peculiar form of ambition that manifests as a desire for broad validation is futile. There is neither contentment nor goodness to be gained through comparison, particularly of online profiles.