How To Quiet The World and Stop Comparing Yourself To Strangers On The Internet
“The opposite of Quiet isn’t Loud; it’s Noise. We live in a world full of Noise: media, gurus, and hot new things. Too often, we search for answers in the noise. We look for direction. We look for Power. You won’t find Power in the Noise. You find Power in the Quiet.”
– Tara Gentile
There once was a tortoise and a hare who decided to race against each other. The hare was loud and proud, the tortoise, slow and steady. It seemed the hare had everything going for it to win the race easily against the ambling tortoise. But the hare got cocky and thought he had it in the bag, showing off and wasting time. Eventually, in his own way, the tortoise made his way across the finish line and beat the hare.
What the tortoise had going for him was that he didn’t look at the hare, decide he had no chance, and give up before he started. He stayed true to himself and ran his own race. The hare’s downfall was not that he was the more outgoing and bouncy (literally), but that he underestimated or even pre-judged the ability of the tortoise, focusing too much on his competitor than on himself.
Observing others and trying to determine where we stand in comparison is a recipe for disaster. And it’s, without a doubt, one of the biggest causes of suffering in modern, first-world society.
Social media. Instagram filters. 24-hour news feeds. Likes. Followers. Retweets. Instant gratification.
Imagine if we chose to favour the philosophy of the tortoise, embracing the slow journey, running our own race regardless of whether the odds were in our favour or not?
As Tara Gentile says, we’re living in the Social Age and this can be exhausting. We’re all about being connected. All. The. Time.
And that makes a lot of noise.
A lot of comparing our lives or abilities with strangers on the Internet and somewhat of an expectation to put yourself out there.
You might have a Facebook account, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, a blog, be part of a myriad of online communities. The works. Or you might feel the pressure of partaking in these, even if you don’t want to, in order to avoid the looks of confusion from others when you say you don’t have a Facebook account, or you really don’t get Twitter – as if you’re from another planet.
In life there are situations that will be impossible to control. It might be at work, when you go to the grocery store, or other acquaintances (or family members) you have to socialise with from time to time.
So is being out in the world. You’re always going to find yourself in situations where there are other people around. From walking down a busy street, travelling and finding yourself in Times Square, or just going about your day-to-day business. The world is noisy and you are a part of it.
From work, commuting on public transport, grocery shopping, and then the online,
global communities we’re all connected to. Remember your quick re-energising activities?
Usually, when burnout comes, it’s WAY too late. Similar to dehydration, by the time you really feel it, you’re already in a pretty terrible place.
You might find that you’re trying to contribute to the world through your work, but you start to feel like you’re just adding to the noise. You’re suddenly comparing yourself to strangers on the Internet. Or your coworkers, or your friends.
You’re thinking you’ll never be as good a writer/artist/coach/leader as (insert name here).
You’re checking Instagram every five minutes out of habit, even though nothing has changed since you last looked.
Things start to become too much. You’re losing your cool. And, without warning, everything starts to irritate you. Next minute, you’re curled up on the couch questioning everything you’re doing.
This is an extreme example. You might not do this. And it might not be in the online world, maybe you notice it when you’re at work or at family dinner.
If you’re a more sensitive or reactive person (a common trait of introverts, but not an exclusive one), you might notice yourself getting frustrated or agitated when you have to put up with a consistently irritating noise, or you get too hungry or too cold.
Sometimes the noise of the world can just get all too much.
Instead of throwing in the proverbial towel, know your limits.
Quiet the world and find your way to live in it by being yourself.
Here’s a thought. You don’t HAVE to do ‘what everyone else is doing’.
Just because it seems as though the world LOVES Twitter, that doesn’t mean you have to have an account if you’re going to hate it or neglect it.
Just because it seems like EVERYONE is going to events to connect and share their business or ideas or hobbies doesn’t mean that you have to.
Just because your colleagues are loud, doesn’t mean you can’t get noticed in your own way.
Find your own way. Do your own thing.
Become a trailblazer and try not to be too surprised when people start to follow you because they like your idea better than what everyone else is doing.
This doesn’t just have to be online. You might find it works in your relationships.
Maybe all your friends do the same thing on the weekend but you hate it, when you suggest something else, they might be relieved because they feel the same way but were just going along with it because to please everyone else.
You don’t need to be a people pleaser. Do your thang and, yes, you might lose some people along the way, but you will also form more genuine, heartfelt connections with the right people and cut through the noise of the crowd at the same time (sound like a worthy trade off?)
How can you go your own way this week? It might be the smallest thing (or not), but it’s our strength as introverts to turn within, be introspective, and really embrace the rich inner world we hold so dear. So why do we feel it so necessary to look externally?
Did you like this post? It’s an excerpt from my eBook, Shhh…An Introvert’s Guide to Creating Inner Calm, Outer Quiet, and an Exceptionally Beautiful Life