When I received the phone call letting me know that I had become a finalist for Mr. Gay Pride Australia the first thing that came into my head wasn’t excitement or joy, it was fear. It was fear of being judged. I couldn’t escape the thought of ‘am I good enough?’
This thought process is something members of our community battle daily. It wasn’t until I said to myself ‘I have this amazing opportunity and platform to make a difference’ that I stopped to appreciate this opportunity I have in front of me.
Social Media, for good or bad it is part of our lives, 210 million people worldwide are estimated to be addicted, including me. We create the notion of a perfect life by editing out our flaws, only showing the good. I am guilty of this, and it has become more apparent to me when I meet someone for the first time, and they have followed me on social platforms, after a couple of minutes the comment ‘you are not whom I expected you to be.’ Yes, I have a lot of shirtless pictures.
Growing up life wasn’t always easy, I was continuously bullied about being too skinny which made me become conscious of my physical appearance. By posting shirtless pictures and watching the likes increase is validation that I am good enough right? The answer is NO. The only person you need validation from is you!
I remember one day my good friend Stephen asked me, ‘do you love yourself?’ It was one of the hardest questions I had to answer openly. With complete honesty, I said I didn’t and listed all the flaws I saw in myself. It wasn’t until I stopped and started looking in the mirror every morning and would tell myself I am good enough, I am enough, and started to love my flaws because they’re a part of me and make me, me.
We all have our fair share of insecurities, some that we speak about openly and others that we prefer to keep to ourselves. However, comparing yourself to others on social media by stalking their aesthetically perfect Instagram photos or staying up to date with their relationship status on Facebook could do little to assuage your feelings of self-doubt.
We compare ourselves to other users and feel as if we can’t measure up to the “ideal” lives that their connections depict. It stunts our real-life social interactions; it makes us envious of others (instead of grateful for what we’ve got), we rarely see anyone posting that they are down or struggling, we only ever see photoshopped photos, happy relationships so of course, we think what’s wrong with me? Realising I was part of the problem I decided to tell the truth, I shared my story in The Star Observer about depression and anxiety.
The online bullying, the racism on dating apps, and body shaming, it’s time to say enough is enough! We need to stop hurting each other; we need to stop making assumptions about people because mental health doesn’t discriminate.
I’ve lost six friends to suicide in the last three years; they didn’t get a chance to speak up.
I want to be a voice for them; I want to be a voice for people who can’t speak up. I want to create more awareness about mental illness, and how the world has evolved, it’s not just what you experience in the world but also what you engage in digitally. We have to do more, or this epidemic will consume more lives. I encourage you to share your story and start making a difference.
If you need someone to talk to. Lifeline 13 11 14. Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636