The number on the scales, the amount of likes on your post, the digits on your clothes label, the number of zeros in your salary… Sometimes it feels like our lives revolve around numbers; how often do you let those numbers hold power over you or define your worth?
The number on the scales is higher than you’d like, so you convince yourself you’re not desirable until you drop 5 more kgs; that you’re not masculine enough until you can lift 30kg dumbbells; that the other person must be better than you because they have more followers; that your work sucks because your post ‘only got 300 likes’…
Trust me, I understand this thought process more than I like to admit; since a young age I’d been a slave to tape measures, scales and obsessive calorie counting, striving for them to decrease, because I’d been conditioned into believing my beauty and career depended on me losing 4 inches off my hips and changing a couple of dress sizes. Since then, the impact of numbers have expanded onto the apps of people’s phones, where people (particularly millennials) are now letting a lack of likes or followers make them feel unworthy, or not good enough.
Numbers aren’t inherently negative. They can help to motivate, encourage and teach, however a problem arises when you let numbers define who you are as a person. So, I just wanted to remind you that those numbers DO NOT define you; not your talent, your body image, your intelligence or your worth.
Whats more you need to stop letting numbers control your happiness “I’ll be happy once I reach my goal weight” or “I’ll be happy when I reach 50K followers” because the reality is, you won’t be. You will just find something else which needs to be ‘improved’ or the next number to achieve because you’re actually chasing an idea of perfection, and perfection doesn’t exist. Reaching your goal of a lower body weight, or higher following won’t make you a better human being, likewise not meeting that goal doesn’t decrease your value either, it just means you need to try something different. If somebody asked ‘what’s important to you’, you wouldn’t say ‘my followers on Instagram’ or ‘my weight’ would you? You’d say spending time with family, exploring the world, or the connection I have with my followers. Sometimes, numbers can be toxic, so refocus your mindset around what is actually valuable.
YOUR AGE: Your age should not stop you from chasing your dreams or having experiences, age is not an indicator of ‘the right time’, it’s simply the amount of time you’ve been alive. If you want to go back to school at the age of 50, for example, do it! And FYI - you haven’t failed at life because you’ve ‘not got your shit together’ by the age of 25 or 30 - who has their shit fully together anyway!?
NUMBER OF LIKES ON INSTAGRAM: We’ve all been guilty of deleting a post under the ‘shame’ of it not getting enough likes, or felt like our work isn’t good enough because of it. This is just a product of how modern day society is shifting, and it needs to stop. You’re not a measurement of the amount of likes your post got, particularly in a time of algorithms and all the other pressures social media is adding to make it more addictive. What’s more important is the content you’re actually putting out, is it something you’re passionate about? Does it have a positive impact? Is it a creative outlet you’re sharing with others? Well, if that’s the case - keep sharing!
YOUR WEIGHT: ‘My weight does not define me’, ‘my body is capable of amazing things’ - repeat lines like this to yourself over and over to replace negative self talk until you believe it. There’s a huge difference between being healthily aware of your weight, and being so overly conscious that the result on the scales in the morning can determine your entire mood and self esteem for the day.
Try measuring your body in different ways, such as how you FEEL, and ban the scales if you have an unhealthy relationship with them. I’ve not stood on scales since I banned them from myself around the age of 21, I feel so much freer.
YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA FOLLOWING: It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the amount of followers you have, especially when it’s common knowledge that brands buy into people with large followings, but that’s not everything. Somebody could have 150K followers, but the majority are people lurking at their account for shady reasons… you might have a lower 25K, but you have a genuine, connected community who really care about what you’re sharing. So, which is better?
Importantly, you have a life outside of the internet, too! We’re spending more and more time on our phones these days, but it’s so important to remember the real, genuine deep connections we have with friends and family outside of online platforms, who value you and adore you, for you, not a number next to your IG handle.
YOUR CLOTHE SIZE: The size of your jeans is not an indication of how happy or healthy you are, it doesn’t mean you’re unworthy because you can’t fit the smaller size.
After my travels, I returned home and half of my wardrobe no longer fit me. I felt so crappy asking the assistant at Lee to keep getting me bigger sizes in the jeans because I couldn’t pull them over my hips, I bought a pair because I needed them but convinced myself I looked bad because I no longer fit a 10. When I stepped out of the shop someone said ‘you’re the most beautiful thing I’ve seen’ it made me want to cry after shit-talking myself so hard over a number on a label. Also, that year of travel, filled abundantly with good memories and growth, was soooo worth needing to buy a bigger pair of jeans.
As long as you are healthy and working towards a positive body image, that’s all that matters!
You’re a human, not a number - be kinder to yourself.