Between pics, status updates, and posts touting epic adventures, gorgeous waterfront weddings, or your BFF’s brand new home, it can seem like everyone has it totally together — except you. Have you ever felt this way? If so, you’re definitely not alone. The rise of social media has made it hard to understand what life is actually like for most people, since we only see the most positive and flattering posts. To understand the problem better, we chatted with Larissa May from #HALFTHESTORY, a global platform dedicated to building a social media community that shares unfiltered experiences. She clued us in on why having a healthy frame of reference is super important and gave us a handful of tips for staying true to yourself.

B+C: #HALFTHESTORY is a project dedicated to showing a more unfiltered side of life. Why does frame of reference matter when it comes to evaluating how much we have it together?

Larissa May: Just like in literature, there are numerous ways we tell our stories. By limiting ourselves to just one narrative, our social media posts can lead to a convoluted sense of reality that isn’t actually attainable or relatable. What happens next is that we begin to judge ourselves based on the surface-level depictions that we’ve built around what we see online.

In a world driven by instant success, we tend to hide behind our social media identities, masking the full truth behind the partial realities we post every day. These stories create unrealistic expectations for ourselves — and others. Having a more realistic frame of reference is important when it comes to evaluating your own accomplishments. It’s not healthy to measure against a false reality.

B+C: How do you think social media affects the way people feel about themselves and their lives? How can people find and help share a more well-rounded perspective?

LM: I see social media as a form of social storytelling, but it can create more of a disconnect than real human interaction. There’s nothing wrong with portraying your “best self,” but there’s a real value in sharing *all* aspects of your life story. By sharing a part of our identity that’s not regularly revealed through social media, we can start to restore human connection.

Even more, sharing a more realistic range of perspectives will help to open lines of communication to more people in our social network. This is the other #HALFTHESTORY, the side that people can really relate to: the side hustles, struggles, defining moments, travel bloopers, mental health battles, and journeys to success. Surfacing this narrative can help people feel more together or on-track.

B+C: That’s seriously great advice. In addition to sharing a more accurate picture of our own lives, what are some things each of us can do to remind ourselves that we really do have it more together than we give ourselves credit for?

LM: Here are a few ideas:

1. Take time off. If you’re going through a rough time, delete your social media apps from your phone. It’s almost impossible to avoid Instagram or Facebook, and these can be especially hard to look at when you’re feeling down or lonely.

2. Turn off your notifications. Realize that there are people and companies fighting for your attention. Instead of giving in, take control of who you let in by turning off your notifications.

3. Learn to unfollow. Social media awareness is pretty much everything when it comes to maintaining confidence and a healthy sense of self. When you catch yourself making comparisons, it’s time to take a break or simply hit “unfollow.”

4. Refresh your social media goals. Social media can be fun and you can take a healthy approach to enjoying it! To do so, list five values in your life. Does your social media feed reflect these? Is what you’re posting in line with what you care about? If not, challenge yourself to switch up the next five posts or reassess the content you scope out regularly.

5. Share the other half of the story. Take an opportunity to share a piece of your life that doesn’t have space in your standard social story. This might be a passion, charity you’re involved with, side hustle, transformational experience, or even a struggle.

Does social media have you feeling down? Tell us what you do to feel better on Twitter @BritandCo or share the other half of your story by using #HALFTHESTORY to help create a more positive sense of self for others.

(Photos via Larissa May, featured photo via Getty)