By Riya Cyriac
Hello dear friends on the internet, we meet again in this faceless, virtual reality. In such a faceless, virtual reality, we try to fill the gaps of knowledge. We crave to know people, but we don’t even know the true depths of a person until you are living inside their body and breathing with their lungs. We know this, inherently, but we don’t accept that what’s presented by a person isn’t even close to the full story. Thus, lets talk about the deception of perception with a focus on how we perceive other people’s edited lives, and put pressure on ourselves to match that fabricated, impossible ideal.
We Are All Liars…Really
As a society, we fabricate our lives to hide the unsettling and highlight the parts that are beautiful. We want to be perfect people, and while I don’t know why, it’s evident from social media and even in the way we present ourselves in public. But we are liars. We’re good people, but we don’t naturally like showing the parts of our life and ourselves that are unpleasant.
When I look at my friends and idols, my eye likes to look at the greener grass. I like to imagine their lives are better than mine, I like to imagine that my problems outweigh theirs’. But when a blog reader reached out to me saying that they admired my productivity and felt like they could do so much more than they currently were. And when I told my friend, she said “your life looks fully perfect to the people around you,” and it had been the first time where I realized that even though I’m not an influencer, my life is idolized by those who know me and don’t know me.
But I am a liar. I write these blog posts about productivity and haven’t told you about my unhealthy relationship with it. I haven’t showed you the list of things I have to do. I haven’t told you the frustration, the netflix-binges, the anxiety, and the depression that comes with trying to do what I do. Because frankly, it only works a for a few months until it doesn’t.
The Influencer’s Responsibility
I’m not an influencer, but I influence those around me, and so do you. I happen to see Kylie Jenner’s newest instagram post and entertain a passing thought of “how is her waist that small,” or I find a leader of an organization I admire and think “how come I can’t be like that” or “their life seems so perfect.” So as a person with influence, whether worldwide or confined in your home, do we have a responsibility to be more honest with the people we know, care about, and who care about us?
In all honesty, I think there is a balance–people don’t necessarily want to show what they believe to be their flaws out in the public, and pressuring someone to do so can be harmful. But at the same time, when we’re profitting off of people aspiring for a false reality, and marketing said reality as something that is natural or can be achieved, influencers step into unethical territory. I love those fitness influencers that show how someone can photoshop an image to make it seem more “appealing,” or those leaders who focus less on productivity culture and more about balance and happiness. But we shouldn’t expect everyone to be like that.
It is also partially our job to control our perception, because even if someone may reveal what they believe to be their flaws, it doesn’t mean that others will perceive those as flaws. For example, what I see to be a problem (like having cycles of hyper-productivity and abysmal productivity) may not be a problem to someone else, well their “flaws” (like having belly fat or watching Netflix) are not flaws to me. Thus, I’ve had to learn how to control my perception and tell myself when something was reality or not. I need to dissociate from things that negatively affect me and seek content that suits my needs. I need to be honest with myself about my strengths and weaknesses and stop chasing this unattainable status of perfection.
Perfection is Unattainable
“Your life looks fully perfect to the people around you“
The definition of perfection is “the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.” But how can one ever be perfect if what we consider as flaws is fully based on our perception and society’s pressure. Flaws are everchanging. What I considered my flaw years ago is not longer one, and what I consider a flaw now was never on top of my mind.
When I was 12 years old, I would never have imagined my life to be here right now. I would never have thought that I would be emailing my favorite authors or running an amazing organization or be going to my dream college. But I also would never have expected to be unsatisfied with the life I have.
How To Control Your Deceptive Perceptive
Human beings are progressive beings. We are insatiable–we always want more. What I dream of making me happy will not make me happy, but it will leave me with this emptiness and internal disappoint. It will leave me feeling like the life I percieved to be perfect was never perfect at all, and that no matter what I do, there will be consequences. There are consquences to success. There is loneliness, there is greed, there is exhuastion, there is imperfection. And while we should try to miminze the damage of our strongest imperfections, we will never be perfect because our definition of perfect will always change.
Recognize when you’re treading into unhealthy territory for yourself and actively search for content that puts you in a better headspace
One second, you stumble upon a super-fit, super-slim, and super-thick model on instagram. Then, you search for more. Then, you fall into the rabbit hole. When I get in this headspace, it triggers very stressful feelings for me because that body seems so unattainable.
When that happens, I tell myself “Riya, this isn’t healthy for you.” I recognize my own stressors, and when I do, I actively search for body-positive and body-neutral content that promote healthy eating, improving your wellness, and criticizing the very convincing diet culture. But that’s something I had to learn. When I did that, my algorithm was changed to that positive content.
Knowing when you’re being obsessive over something puts you a step forward in being able to control your perception and step back from it.
Realize that we are all liars
Like I said, we are all liars. We show the green patches of grass, not the yellow ones that are fried from the heat. So assume that people are showing you the best of their life, but they deal with their own struggles. Not all struggles are equal, but people are not perfect either.
Ask for help when you need it
When you’re feeling inadequete, insecure, or you want to improve your life, ask for help! If you’re having a bad body-image day, talk to someone you trust about it! If you want advice on growing a blog, running an organization, or writing, feel free to ask me! We grow together, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
I hope this blog post helped you and also peeled back the window to my life. This faceless virtual reality is deceptive, but we can train our perception to work for us.
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