“You need to mind your own business,” she told me.
Not the words you want to hear while in the throes of another heartache, but necessary words nonetheless.
It’s 2018 and everything you ever need to know is accessible in the palm of your hand. You can track in real time exactly what your friends are getting up to tonight. You can instantly look up the fact that there are more stars in the skies than particles of sand, just to win an argument. You can even get Pad Thai and a date to share it with, delivered to your doorstep in just two swipes.
I’m guilty of spending hours lying in bed, scrolling on my phone and checking out the highlights of other people’s lives. I justify it by saying I just want to see how the other half live. The ones who are inspiring me to chase my dreams. To watch the friends I’ve made on the other side of the world, kick ass.
But what happens when I scroll pass something I don’t want to know about?
A change in relationship status
A new job update
A tagged meme I wasn’t included in
A party I’ve missed out on
I can get very easily bogged down after an intense scrolling session or when I’ve lurked on a profile for too long. Especially when FOMO hits and I find out news that rubs me the wrong way or leaves a sick feeling in my stomach.
And so, on this particular Friday night when I should have been capitalising on my 20s and making questionable decisions, I found myself curled up in the foetus position on her bed having yet another existential crisis. Friends who let you rock up at their house at odd hours of the night, and open up their bed or couch to you, are solid gold. I have spent many evenings diving into people’s passenger seats, knocking on doors, and camping out on kitchen floors, all so they can give me the tough but necessary advice. These are the people to hold close and do life with.
As I lay sulking under the dim glow of her fairy lights, she schooled me in the art of minding my own business.
What other people are doing should be of no concern to you. What he is doing with her is not a story-line you need to care about unless you’re invited to play a part in their drama.
“Stop jumping to conclusions,” she stated bluntly. “What you see and hear online is only half the story.”
I pulled her blankets over my head and sulked even more.
“Every time you start to get upset, remind yourself it’s none of your business,” she nudged me. “This is not burying your head in the sand. It’s an intentional redirection of where you focus your energy and thoughts.”
The truth is, she’s right. I’m guilty of investing in the lives of others more than I invest in my own. It’s easier to show off my life on a screen than show up and do the messy but necessary work in reality. We watch and scroll and care so much about what other people are doing, we miss out on the magic that’s happening right in front of us. And of course, we want others to see the highlights in our life as well. So we play the game. We snap, we caption, we vlog. This is not a social media bash – and you should definitely instastory any moment where you’re feeling and looking great. But some moments just shouldn’t be for the public.
I had the privilege of hanging out with someone especially great the other week. It went the way you’d want any night with a ‘potential’ to go- pizza, ice cream, and your Pastor dining at the table next to yours. Afterwards, we sat in the car with music blaring, city lights sparkling, and basked in a reassuring silence that could only accompany two people who were absolutely comfortable with one another. In that moment, I didn’t care what anyone else was doing. All I wanted was to savour the moment and never have it end. It was such a rare and sweet occasion that my fingers itched to capture it and have something tangible to remember it by. But as I reached for my phone, I felt a nudge telling me ‘Don’t document this. This moment is yours and his. No one else’s. Some things just need to stay sacred.’
Like I said, this isn’t a social media bash. The Internet has brought some beautiful things and people into my life and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it. But if we’re always basing our feelings and jumping to conclusions based off the highlight reel and 10 second stories people put up, we run the risk of neglecting all the amazing things we’ve achieved in our own lives.
So for anyone who has ever felt crap because the rest of the world is ahead, let me pass on this pep talk to you.
It’s none of your business how far ahead other people are
None of your business that they’re now asking someone else out instead of you
None of your business they’re in a top-tier company and you’re not
None of your business that they’re further along in their career than you are
Quit watching and just do you.
Anxiety loves taking any tidbit of information you feed it and running with it until it’s crafted a story where you’re the victim.
So stop feeding it. Realise that life online is curated and only two dimensional. It’s rarely the full story, and it’s none of your business. Learn from people, yes. Be inspired by them for sure. But don’t lurk on profiles if you’re just going to beat yourself up for all the ways you’re not like them.
You could spend hours swiping through other people’s stories instead of putting the work into building your own. You could spend your whole life following other people’s lives. Or you could just devote your energy to living your own life- unafraid and uninhibited.
Mind your business