Last week, Justin Bieber performed an acoustic version of his new song "Love Yourself" at the #GRAMMYs. I'm not going to front like I'm a #belieber or anything, but I guess you could consider this my coming out of the fan-club closet speech because I absolutely LOVE this one line of his song that goes,
"if you like the way you look so much, then maybe you should go and love yourself"
and it got me thinking (at length, apparently)...
Every #twentysomething I have ever met has gone through a lot; ups and downs, rights and wrongs, phases that include different identities and the groups of "friends" that come along with them - let's call those groups of "friends" social circles. While some of us are perfectly content walking to the beat of our own drum (usually solo), many of us tend to seek approval from those social circles we've embedded ourselves in because we - as humans - like to make decisions based on what others think of us. This is especially true for #twentysomethings who are trying to fight their way through the politics of social interaction, regardless if that interaction be online or in person, because let's be real, its basically the same thing.
As if this fragile age wasn't porcelain enough, social media has become the ruler of our social norms and those "norms" are driven by people who edit their unrealistic photos and caption them with #nofilter, making the rest of us feel entirely incompetent in comparison. (Yes, I'm calling out all those #InstagramModels, but only because I secretly really just want to be them. Don't we all??) But it gets worse; the people who obsess over those (unrealistic) standards of perfection are the same kind of people hide behind the anonymity of an online presence and judge us by our social media presence, AND WE LET THEM! Social media has only magnified our vulnerabilities and insecurities, complicating our validation process with selfies and the rush of people validating you with their "like" buttons.
In this generation, your social worth is basically equated the number of followers you have and your self-worth is equal to the likes you got on today's #selfie. We can blame this perception for our generations's collective low-grade narcissism. All I'm saying is, if you're like most #twentysomethings, the number of "likes" on your #ootd post will determine if your wardrobe choice should force you to go home for lunch so you can change, or if it will live long enough to make an appearance at your happy hour get together with the girls. Let's just face the music here: the game has been changed and everything we do is posted online for people (aka our "friends") to judge us by, which they most definitely will do.
Some of this is not as superficial as the "hearts" on our Insta posts; it can be as real as going to a certain school or choosing a particular career simply to make our parents proud or upping our rent to move into a downtown high-rise in an effort to prove to your peers that #yougotthis - whatever "this" may be. We are constantly comparing ourselves to some ungodly standard and often use social media as a way to see how we match up. Our natural tendency has become the art of seeking approval from the masses. But what if we didn't do all of that validation searching? What if the standards weren't a comparison at all? I'm probably sounding crazy here, but stay with me. What if the only standard we held ourselves to was how good we felt in our hearts instead of how many hearts are displayed below our #selfies? What I'm trying to say here is that it really all comes down to is one thing: you have to love yourself through everything; every f*ck up, every in between and every accomplishment, just the same. As my soul sister KoKo recently said in her Instagram wisdom,
"We must learn to love ourselves first unconditionally."
Meaning: it must be an unconditional kind of self-love, or it doesn't count. (And please don't confuse loving who you are with knowing who you are; that's another lesson entirely which we will get to another time.) In my opinion, to truly love oneself is one of life's greatest accomplishments. It is the core of everything else we put out in the universe and it controls the love that we give to others. That all being said, the sooner us #twentysomethings learn this lesson, the better.