Don’t compare yourself with Facebook
CLAIRE HUXLEY says stop comparing yourself to others. Facebook is the home of insecurity, don’t let it get you.
When I was younger, I loved to write. I even thought I was quite good at it.
At the tender age of 5, I made my literary debut with the poetic opus Vegetables aren’t Edible; aged 8, I would subject my classmates to weekly half-hour instalments to my own fantasy saga on the coach ride to the local swimming pool and at 13, I discovered, dare I say it, fanfiction. (But not that weird Harry/McGonagall stuff; even I have standards.)
This carried me all the way through school, and on finishing Sixth Form and getting my Cambridge offer, I promised myself that when I got to uni I would make the most of shiny student media to blog, scribble and jot my way into literary stardom.
The fact that you’re even reading this article shows that I didn’t. Cambridge has given me a lot of things; friends that I wouldn’t mind leaving my future kids with for 5 minutes, the ability to bullshit skilfully for 3,000 words, the memory of that time I spent 20 minutes begging a porter to remove a pigeon from my bathroom. As we were reminded the other day, this place is bloody brilliant. But if there is one thing it hasn’t given me, it’s confidence. In fact, as I sit here in my third year to write this, I have to admit that my time at this stellar institution has left me with inferiority complex bigger than Rebekah Brooks’ phonebook. For all her faults, the eager, simpering, post gap-yah fresher I once certainly felt far closer to having ‘it’ sorted than I do now. And when I take a look around, I get the feeling that I’m not the only one.
The truth is, the longer you spend in Cambridge and, crucially, the more Cambridge students you come into contact with, the harder it is to maintain that blissful post- year 13-results confidence that everything will work out in the end. The lie that securing a place here is a sparkly no-questions-asked ticket to the good life evaporates pretty damn quickly when you get here and realise that everyone else did that too – and then some. Equally, the pressure-cooker of college is a breeding ground for some mammoth insecurities; when it seems like all around you people are getting a blue, starring in shows, landing eight-grand summer jobs at insert-something-corporate here and, yes, getting their writing published, it takes a pretty confident person not to feel a degree of panic.
Add the fact that we now live in a generation where it is possible to share your achievements with your friends, your mum, the college chaplain and your best friend’s dog at just the click of a button, and you have a recipe for disaster. Whereas ten years ago people with something to show off would have to run around the perimeter of the courts shouting the news in order to instantly broadcast the information to the rest of college (great for those at Peterhouse, a bit of a faff if you go to Trinity), nowadays it takes nothing more than a well-timed Instagram. Facebook is an especially gloomy place at 2am when you’re masochistically scrolling for evidence of other people’s successes,swimming with job acceptance statuses and photos of people attending the BAFTAs because a film they made was nominated for an award (this genuinely appeared on my feed this week).
The best solution is, obviously, to stop comparing yourself to other people. But that is easier said than done, especially at a university which publicly posts class rankings and prides itself in exclusivity even within a pretty exclusive starting pool – anyone who has ever checked their pigeonhole to realise that they haven’t received an invite to the super-secretive-only-for-special-people black-tie dinner being held that week by that society will know what I mean. So if you can’t fix the cause, focus on the symptoms – stop going on Facebook, unfollow everyone but the biggest losers on twitter, dig yourself a massive hole and stay there until graduation is over.
But what have I chosen to do instead? Well, you’re looking at it. After finding myself contemplating a lifetime of failure because, unlike one of my kid brother’s friends, I was not yet a YouTube sensation, I decided that it was time to pull myself together, stop the moaning, and produce something of my own. It’s not a cure to the problem, but it’s a start.
Which leads me here: taking baby steps by writing my first article for The Tab.
And I might just post it on Facebook.
Well, if you can’t beat them…