Social Media, Success Stories, and Unrealistic Comparisons

Before, during, and after college are unsure times in our lives. It becomes a vicious cycle of losing and finding yourself. When you first enter college, you are so sure of what you want to be, and then you may realize that you no longer want to pursue your original major or career. You may also become intimidated by your peers because you see that they are participating in more internships or extracurricular programs than you are, and you don’t see yourself going as far as them. 

Self-doubt becomes prevalent as we advance in our careers, and social media often adds to this self-doubt. As much as we love social media and how entertaining it can be, it can cause you to negatively compare yourself to your peers.

This is what we call ‘social comparison’,

which is “a fancy way of describing the way you define your own self-worth through comparing yourself to others” (Lambourne, “Death by Linkedin”). 

As resourceful and uplifting a platform LinkedIn may be, it can also be discouraging to see peers your own age being successful when you feel that you have not made the same progress. Especially when you are feeling unsure about your academic decisions, watching your peers have their lives together can make you feel very insecure. You may even begin to create a hypothetical timeline for yourself of when you should graduate school, and when you should get a job. Just know that you are not alone. 

Success has never been, and never will be, a straight path – and every path is unique. Just because someone got a job before you, or got an internship with a well known company, doesn’t mean that you cannot also attain the same kind of success. You are no less successful just because your timeline does not match up with those of your peers. Everyone has different obstacles that they have to work through. Life happens; there is no such thing as graduating on time, and your worth is not measured by the kind of job you can attain. You can, and should, go at your own pace, and any progress is better than no progress at all. 

If you feel stuck (we all feel stuck at some point), you should talk to your advisor, mentor, or someone you trust who can help you move in the right direction professionally. Talking with someone will help you vocalize any hidden concerns that you have. When you are able to recognize your concerns, you can then work through them and set realistic goals for yourself. Motivate and believe in yourself because if your peers can do it, so can you. Use those peers you see on LinkedIn, and start a conversation with them. Talk to them about their journeys and how they were able to reach their successes. Those conversations will help you build a professional relationship with them, and you will realize that they had to go through their own battles to be successful. 

Surround yourself with people who want to see you be successful, and who can help you, and cheer you on along the way. Remember, dedicate time to yourself and your goals, and your time will come. 

Works Cited

Lambourne, Danny. “Death by Linkedin.” Medium, The Bigger Picture, 17 May 2017,