Darrin Friedman is the strategic brand specialist for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty in Pittsburgh.
While scrolling through my Facebook news feed recently, I saw something that made my jaw drop. A friend of mine was at a Chevy dealership, and it appeared from the photos that he was buying a brand-spanking-new Corvette. Now let me tell you, the car in said pictures was hot — so hot that it belonged on a Car and Driver magazine cover. There my friend stood — proud and beaming — next to his new ride. This is what his photos said to me: He had made it.
Let me be clear that I am proud of my friend. He has worked very hard for a long time, and he deserves all the awesomeness life has to offer, including hot-rod cars. But my initial feeling of being happy for my friend was immediately followed by a darker thought that bothered me. Should I feel bad about myself because I can’t buy a Corvette?
Nowadays, these kinds of feelings are hardly isolated incidents thanks to social media. There are a lot of people on Facebook who like to share their day-to-day material triumphs. Every day, I see photos of friends vacationing in some far-off beach paradise, or pictures of a renovated kitchen with brand-new Viking appliances, or a recent portrait session capturing a perfect family on their immaculate front lawn.
We all have friends who have made it big and are proud to show it. (And truth be told, many of my “friends” on Facebook are people I don’t even know or interact with in real life.) But depending on how much we know about those people’s actual lives, sometimes it can be easy to slip into the habit of feeling bad about ourselves when we see how great others’ lives seem to be.
When these feelings of inadequacy surface, what’s a person to do? Well, I try and focus on what I know. I try to hold on to the realization that I have tremendous value. Let me say it again: We all have tremendous value.
We may not have everything that others have, and we may not be able to show off comparable materialistic accomplishments, but we still have self-worth. And that is more valuable than an expensive vacation, a shiny car, or a model home. For all you real estate professionals out there who see your colleagues raving about all their closed deals on Facebook, I implore you not to internalize their results as your failures. Your career is simply not theirs.
After all, whatever your life circumstances may be, you determine all of the important things of value: what kind of friend you are, how lovingly you parent, how committed you are to the causes you believe in, even what kind of advocate you are for you clients. You determine what kind of person you are and what you give to this world. And that has tremendous value. You determine your own self-worth, and Facebook be damned because a status update simply doesn’t do a person justice.
So, the next time you see someone’s life looking a little finer than what you perceive yours to be, remember that we are all at different places and may be in this for different reasons. No one’s life is nearly as perfect as it looks online, and even if it were, that doesn’t mean yours is any less valuable. We must decide for ourselves how we will measure our own success and our true worth. Remembering that makes all the difference in the world.