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  • Lili Trifilio

Girl K Refuses To Settle

“I feel something bumpy, leather jackets, and a heavy heart,” said Kathy Patino, the brain behind Girl K, a self-defined project of sunflower kisses, sunset bangs, and rising stardom.


Patino’s newest single “Settle” debuts on 8/19/2019, at the high point of August. This stand alone track features Patino’s silky voice accompanied by chorusy melancholic guitar, grungy verses, punchy choruses, and an energy filled ending. Along with the single, a music video produced by Xitlaly Viveros will follow the release.


The blue sky ballad examines the current state of social conditions touching on the nature of internet culture, celebrity glorification, and sometimes dangerous comparisons. The issue Patino covers in “Settle” primarily stems from people placing their value in how “successful” their lives are in terms of career achievements, beauty, or financial gain. Especially when comparing one’s own life to the seemingly perfect persona people create online, it is often easier now than ever before to feel inadequate.


In addition to the comparisons we make with those around us in our personal lives, we also compare our lives to millions of strangers in the online sphere. According to Statistica, in a worldwide survey in 2018 nearly 2.65 billion people were active on social media, which is over two and a half times as much activity as there was present in 2010, when the survey began with 0.97 billion users calculated. Due to the prevalence of social media as a tool, academics such as Muqaddas Jan, Sanobia Anwwer Soomro, and Nawaz Ahmad authors of “The Impact of Social Media on Self-Esteem” conducted a survey of 150 students from the institute of business management on their relationship with Facebook and found that 88% of people made social comparisons when active on this social media platform and that 98% of those comparisons were comparisons regarding people comparing their lives to others that appeared better or more successful than themselves.


Each case study has limitations; however, an additional survey by Jacqueline Nesi and Mitchell J. Prinstein on “Using Social Media for Social Comparison and Feedback-Seeking: Gender and Popularity Moderate Associations with Depressive Symptoms” suggests in an examination of 619 students that social comparison behaviors, higher depression, and greater feed-back seeking behaviors may be associated with increased social media usage. At the rapid rate of technological growth, social comparison and its link to social media is continuing to be studied, however, further research on the long-term effects of self-esteem and social media dependency remains speculative.


Despite the relatively limited amount of research on long-term social media usage in relation to self-esteem, social comparison is by no means a new concept. In particular the concept of upward social comparison, or comparing oneself to someone we believe is better than us, was theorized by Leon Festinger in 1954 as a psychological process seen in humans as a means for self-evaluation. We can see in our modern world the standards for beauty, finances, success, and fame have continued to peak as our social spheres have expanded. As we go through this self-evaluation process our self-worth becomes dependent on our external environment and circumstances. Festinger suggests that through comparison of ourselves with others we begin to form our own understanding of where we stand socially and that this process serves as a baseline in understanding who we are. However, this process in actuality determines our social acceptability not our character - yet often the two are seen as synonymous.


Social standards and therefore our social acceptability is always in fluctuation as new ideas and changes happen in the world. The standards of success, beauty, financial gain, and achievement we have in our modern times are not the same as they were even 50 years ago. These external factors which we measure our worth against are not inherent or permanent standards, yet continue to hold power over our self-worth and confidence in many areas of life as we try to fit in, meet the baseline, and feel acceptable in our own skin.

Patino in her own life has experienced the burdens of feeling insecure and worthless through social comparison.


“I grew up an awkward looking child, I longed to look like Demi Lovato and every tall slender girl,” said Patino. “I would stare in envy at anyone who I thought was good looking and used that energy to put myself down.”


Even as Patino’s career began to blossom the side effects of upward social comparison continued to effect Patino’s self image.


“I would look at other bands I looked up to and wondered if I was even attractive enough or cool enough to be doing this,” said Patino.


Patino, based the core of the song off a memory she shared with her father. While her father advocated for an external belief in something, his good-intentioned talk left Patino feeling alone.


“I questioned what the point was of having a false sense of hope - I didn’t really like the idea of having to rely on others in order to create a better life for yourself physically or mentally.”

However, as Patino’s relationship with herself began to change over time and her confidence grew her mindset adapted as well.


“As I got older I realized that my role models have their own issues and insecurities that they work on, and that I can have role models that inspire me, but not role models that I am trying to be a carbon copy of.”


When Patino reflects on the conversation she shared with her father, the same conversation that inspired “Settle”, she points out that instead of believing in something, believing in herself proved to be what she needed all along.


“I was tired of feeling bad about myself and I started putting in the time to show myself love and that came in many different ways,” said Patino. “Loving myself is one of the most difficult things I have learned to do - it’s being patient with yourself and not giving up. Confiding in those you trust the most, and placing yourself in non-toxic environments.”


Social comparison is inevitable as part of the human condition, however, being aware of the way you view yourself and the reasons why that viewpoint is negative or positive can help you better your self-esteem in the long run. Our thoughts are not always reliable or true and often times the influence of social comparison leads us to view ourselves in a way that completely strays from reality. Social comparison is built on the facade of social standards, which we view as natural laws but are always changing and fluctuating with time. The beliefs we hold of people who we view as better than ourselves often do not take into account the negative aspects of someone, but solely reflect on the “good” parts of an individual which in turn highlights the “bad” parts of ourselves. In addition, we collectively idolize individuals in celebrity culture which can additionally lead to feelings of inferiority when comparing our lives to theirs.


In recognizing the patterns of social comparison in our own lives we can take steps to avoid the harmful side effects to our self esteem while continuing to admire and be inspired by those around us.


The envy, longing, insecurity, and anxiety surrounding social comparison can be avoided by acknowledging that your brain is engaged in the process of social comparison, removing habits that lead to low self esteem through comparison, and implementing self esteem building techniques such as goal-setting, exercise, un-following accounts that make you feel bad, and implementing a self-love routine.


Here’s a link to some great self-confidence building practices by Positive Psychology:

https://positivepsychology.com/self-confidence/


Patino in “Settle” reflects on the ways in which social comparison can be toxic to our lives and highlights the concept in a way that allows us to reflect on our own habits and mindset.


“It’s great to feel inspired and easy to be discouraged,” says Patino. “People settle for a false reality and allow that to discourage them from doing much else. But someone wants you to be you. I want you to be you.”


Check out Girl K’s “Settle” streaming everywhere on August 18th.


Sources:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/278414/number-of-worldwide-social-network-users/

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c617/c48b8e66890cbcc5e66638172c4d955a2cd1.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5985443/

https://www.humanscience.org/docs/Festinger%20(1954)%20A%20Theory%20of%20Social%20Comparison%20Processes.pdf

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