Do you have compare and despair syndrome?
Envious of your best friend’s Twitpics of her new kitchen? Sick of reading Facebook posts about your former colleague’s amazing new job, or your cousin’s glamorous wedding plans on Pinterest and Instagram? Don’t be, say the experts, because they’re all ed
Tanya has just been out for Friday lunch with a friend and she’s on her way home on the Metro when she checks her Twitter timeline. She sees immediately that a former colleague has landed a new job, about three grades above Tanya’s. Scrolling down, she also spots some gorgeous Jimmy Choos her friend has bought and she notes that the kitchen fitters have just arrived at her cousin’s six-bedroomed villa.
When she switches to Facebook, she sees new photos from her friend’s holiday in the Maldives with her husband. Her friend is looking slim, tanned, toned and very much in love. A colleague on maternity leave has also posted photos of her sweet new twin babies. By the time Tanya gets off the train, her mood has gone from happy to feeling totally inadequate and depressed with her life.
“I’d had a fantastic lunch with Carole. We laughed so much and we both said that we must meet up more often,” says 38-year-old Tanya, a public relations executive. “I felt so good about myself and my life when I got on the train, but after I’d read about how well everyone else is doing, I felt inferior.
“I’m still on the same grade I was five years ago, while my former colleague is flying off into great things. I’d love a new kitchen in my apartment, but living alone, I don’t have much money left over at the end of the month for new shoes, let alone a new kitchen. I haven’t been on holiday for two years and there has been no one special in my life since I split up with my boyfriend three years ago.
“When I read what everyone else was up to, I felt deflated, as if I’m not good enough. I started thinking how useless I am. I told myself I’m a failure, I can’t do my job, I can’t dress well and I can’t afford nice things like holidays. I’d also love to have a baby – just one would be wonderful, but there’s a colleague who got pregnant naturally with two!”
Be aware of ‘the highlight reel’
During her journey home, Tanya fell victim to compare and despair syndrome, which affects all of us now we have access to everyone’s highlights via social media. Even if we’re not on Facebook and Twitter, we see our neighbour’s shiny new car in their driveway or our friends call us to share their news that their son has been accepted by a top university.
When we drop our children at school, we notice when other mums have a new designer jacket, or a gorgeous new handbag. Sometimes it feels as if the rest of the world is doing so much better than we are. But the reason for