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  • Writer's pictureAmber Boyd, LMFT

You Can’t “Should” All Over Yourself: Finding Your Authentic Self in a Social Media World




In today’s fast-paced world, where social media seems to reign supreme, it’s easy to feel the weight of societal expectations crashing down on us. How often do we find ourselves scrolling through our feeds, flooded with messages telling us how we should be living our lives, running our businesses, or even showing ourselves online? It’s a common struggle, one that not only entrepreneurs and professionals face but also individuals in their personal lives.


Have you ever felt pressured to show up on social media in a certain way, to mimic the success stories and highlight reels of others? Maybe you’ve even caught yourself thinking, “I should be doing more,” as you compare your behind-the-scenes with someone else’s spotlight moments. It’s a slippery slope that leads many to self-doubt and imposter syndrome.


In the most recent episode of my podcast:  Moments of Authenticity, I had the opportunity to sit down (virtually, of course) with some of the most insightful people I know in the mental health field (my business accountability partners, Dr. Erika Dawkins & Arkeria Robertson, LPC)  to talk about this topic: The impact of social media on our professional and personal lives. From the pressure to keep up with everyone to finding authenticity in a curated world, we covered it all. Let’s unpack this, shall we?


Social Media Pressure and Self-Doubt

One of the first things we touched on was the pressure that comes with social media. It’s like this giant spotlight shining down, demanding constant engagement, perfection, and innovation. It’s a lot of pressure to show up, both in these professional and personal settings, like everybody else. The comparison game is real, and it’s not just about keeping up appearances; it’s about the mental toll it takes on us, wondering if we’re ever doing enough.


The Comparison Trap and Its Pitfalls

This led us to talk about the dark side of comparison. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of measuring our worth against the highlight reels of others. The comparison is so hard – each one of us has a unique point of view, a unique perspective, and a unique voice. But, in the world of social media – where everyone’s life looks picture-perfect – it’s hard to remember that we only see a fraction of the story. This skewed perspective can lead to self-doubt and a feeling of falling behind, even when we’re giving it our all.


Striving for Authenticity Amidst Digital Conformity

Our conversation naturally turned towards the struggle of maintaining authenticity. In a world that often rewards conformity and virality, how do you stay true to yourself? “There’s this desire to conform to doing things one way,” was a point raised during our chat. It’s a fine line to walk, wanting to connect and share meaningful content without losing sight of who we are and what we stand for. The challenge is real, which many of us grapple with daily.


The Real Impact on Mental Health Professionals

One might assume that as mental health professionals, we’re somehow immune to the effects of social media pressures. But that’s so far from the truth. We discussed how being in this space, and trying to do good work can sometimes feel like shouting into the void, especially when faced with the sheer volume of information and comparison online. “It’s overwhelming at times,” admitted one of my colleagues, highlighting the delicate balance between leveraging social media for growth and not letting it dictate our self-worth.


Finding Balance and Setting Boundaries

So, how do we find balance in this digital tightrope walk? We agreed: setting realistic goals and boundaries is key. We talked about the importance of self-care and giving ourselves grace. Self-care and grace in professional settings, as well as self-awareness and personal growth, resonated strongly with us. It’s about recognizing when to step back, reassess our priorities, and remember that it’s okay not to be “on” all the time.


The Power of Community and Shared Experiences

“I also have seen the importance of having mental health professionals be a part of the conversations. A lot of folks are diagnosing themselves or kind of misconstruing how we might use terms or ideas that we might hold about social and emotional wellness. And I think being able to have social media, to be able to add to the conversation, to be able to correct some of the conversation, I think has been super important.”


What stood out to me the most from our discussion was the power of community. Sharing our experiences, challenges, and successes with peers who understand the journey is invaluable. It’s comforting to know you’re not alone in your struggles or aspirations. Also, if you use social media effectively, not only will it help you connect with your peers, but it can definitely be a good tool for your business.


Self-Awareness and Personal Growth

In wrapping up our conversation, we circled back to the essence of what makes us human: our imperfections, our struggles, and our achievements. Social media, for all its benefits, often glosses over these realities, presenting a sanitized version of life that often makes us feel inadequate. But it’s in embracing our whole selves, flaws and all, that we find true connection and meaning.


Think about this: “Are you showing up? Because you actually want to show up? And you have something to say? Or are you trying to fit a model that may be extinct in the next like, week, month? Year?” It’s a reminder to check in with ourselves, to ensure we’re not just going through the motions but actively choosing how and when we engage online.


Final Thoughts

So, where do we go from here? If there’s one takeaway from our conversation, it’s the idea of adjusting, not just ‘justing.’ As one of my peers beautifully put it, “It’s adjusting...based on what this season calls for.” It’s about being flexible, forgiving ourselves for not meeting impossible standards, and remembering why we started on this path in the first place.


Navigating social media as a mental health professional – or just an individual trying to find their way – can be challenging and overwhelming. Still, it’s also filled with opportunities for growth, connection, and learning. By sharing our stories, offering support, and embracing our authentic selves, we can make this digital journey a little less daunting and a lot more rewarding.


Thanks for joining me on this reflection! Until next time, remember to give yourself grace, set those boundaries, and cherish the real connections you make along the way. Let’s continue to support each other in the digital world and beyond.


If you are interested in hearing our insight, please feel free to listen to my podcast, Moments of Authenticity, which you can find on the following platforms:


Spotify

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

&Amazon Podcasts


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