By now, we've all heard about how troubling reflecting your life after the lives of others you see on social media can be. Lusting after the public-facing lives of others can lead to sadness, a feeling of incurable FOMO, and a strange, perpetual longing for a life you don't have. As an athlete, this lust can turn downright unhealthy.
Between Instagram, Facebook, Strava, etc. it's hard to ignore every detail of what friends and perfect strangers are spending their time doing. Because of this, countless studies have linked this influx of online personas to anxieties and depression in younger generations. It's no surprise that people put their best foot forward when creating themselves online. We all want to hide the bad. After all, our rest days aren't very exciting and no one wants to hear about the ride we got dropped from.
But it's so important to keep in mind that these things happen to everyone. Regardless of how much we want to hide our failures, they happen.
I find myself constantly scrolling through Strava, clicking in on my friends' (and strangers') rides to see what segment they PR'd. Have I ridden that segment before? How much faster were they than I was? Well great, now I need to get off the couch because lawd knows I'm not going to get any faster sitting here.
Okay, scrolling through Strava isn't doing my mental health any good so , let's switch to Instagram, where I see a rad lady clear a really technical section that I know I tripped up on last time. Well great, now I'm not as fast OR as technically gifted as these other riders.
I click my screen off, but the feeling of "not doing enough" is still tapping at my subconscious.
More often than not, I have these feelings towards other cyclists only to then find out less than like a week later that they're twice my age and have been riding bikes since they were like 14. Or that they had a really awesome lead out on a segment that I was riding solo.
And immediately, I have to put things back into perspective. I talked a lot about my feelings regarding comparing myself to other rides in my last post. It's obviously something that I'm still struggling with and learning from.
Despite knowing how ridiculous it is to compare my real-life to people's social media lives, it's still a challenge to separate the two. I spend my off-days from training thinking that I need to be on my bike or running or anything! Even when I've already completed my workout for the day, I feel like it may not have been enough.
And what sucks most, is that having these feelings makes me want to close the door on competing altogether. But no matter how much I struggle with these feelings, competing, at the end of the day, is still what I enjoy doing.
Some of my favorite athletes are the ones who talk about their bad days publicly. I think it's so important to hear from everyone, especially "celebrities" that bad days are bound to happen. And despite being no where near "celebrity" status, I've been making a conscious effort to post my good and bad days publicly. Because they both happen, they both happen a lot, and they both happen to everyone.
I've been taking some days to ride around town or my favorite mountain bike trails without a computer on. And those are oftentimes my favorite days, free to just rip around and remember that riding a bike is really damn fun. Numbers can be fun, too, but they shouldn't dictate your life.