My Journey with Social Media: The Day I Stopped Living for Instagram and Started Living for Myself.

Monday February 6, 2017.

I was frustrated. I was scrolling through Instagram over my lunch hour. Mindlessly scrolling. Scrolling through photos of all these people I didn’t know, doing things with their life that I wish I could do.

People I didn’t know, who seem to get paid for merely being beautiful, good at yoga, traveling or road tripping constantly.

Two months prior, I had gotten rid of my smart phone and switched to a flip phone due to feeling overwhelmed by social media and messaging apps.  I took a break from all social media, deleted my Instagram and SnapChat accounts and only checked Facebook a handful of times a day. I lasted two months and went back to my iPhone once I felt ready to re-connect to the e-world. There were positives to smart phones: you can google anything at any time, GPS (which for directionally challenged people like me, can relieve a lot of stress), you can text faster (time is of the essence!) and take photos to capture memories (like going to a Walk of the Earth concert with your little sister).

When I started using my iPhone again, I began adding apps as I felt I had justified use for. Slowly, I had re-downloaded almost every app I had before. Facebook to connect with friends, Instagram to share photo memories, Twitter for work and Starbucks to collect star points (hell yah free birthday drink!).

When I re-started my Instagram account, I posted numerous photos of travels I had gone on in the past and several yoga photos. I would share photos of healthy food I would make and tried to create a “theme” using the “right” filters and photos. I remember one day, taking almost an hr to create my Instagram screen name and bio to ensure that it had the “right” flow of inspirational quotes and symbols (as if I didn’t have anything else to spend that hour on…like reading, or journaling…or just something productive). But, it was what I felt I had to do. I found myself falling into the old habits that had led to me deleting the app in the first place. The habits which cared more about how many likes or followers I had on my account than taking the time to put my phone down and interact with the real people around me. The habits which cared more about taking photos which matched my theme, than about taking photos about memories that actually mattered.

I found myself mindlessly scrolling. Wishing I could be thinner. Wishing I could be better at rock climbing or yoga. Wishing my job could be a travel blogger. Wishing I could travel more. Wishing I had a camper van. Wishing I went out more. Wishing I was more creative.

on February 6, 2017, I started realizing that I in part, was living and documenting my life based on what I saw on social media multiple times a day. I felt I needed to look a  certain way, eat a certain way  and post photos of certain things in order to feel a part of the social media world. And I hated it. I hated the fact that I felt pressured by society to always think  I could improve myself – and not in a positive way, but in a way that made me feel “less than” every night. That made me feel like I shouldn’t have had that donut, that I need to lose weight or that I am living my life in a wrong way because I couldn’t leave everything to travel the world (like most of the general population). That made me question myself, my body and my image. That made me think of other women who looked or acted in a certain way negatively. I felt suffocated. I felt frustrated and trapped. And I wanted to stop caring.

I deleted my Instagram account on February 6, 2017 – and made a new account a few days later. This one didn’t have any fancy screen name or fancy bio. It literally read “This is my last Instagram account”. It won’t have any photos of yoga poses, or a large number of travel photos that suggest that I travel more than I do – because while I don’t want to be swarmed by Instagram accounts like that in my life, I don’t want to be that person on someone else’s account. I don’t want to be that girl who makes someone else feel “less than” and make them feel like my life is full of traveling, green smoothies and yoga. I want them to see the real me. The me that is encouraging of other women to be their true selves and to break out of the societal social media pressure bubble. The me that works full time, does yoga approximately once a week (twice if I’m lucky) and travels once to twice a year because I have real-life bills to pay!  I made a promise to myself (and my mental health) that I wouldn’t follow any yoga  or travel accounts. I would follow close friends, mostly meme accounts (which make me laugh) and accounts which make me feel empowered about my life – not worse.

I want to love my body and know that if it needs to have a lazy day once and a while or eat some carbs that thats OK. I want to continue to be an active person because that is who I am, what I enjoy doing and because it is healthy for my body, rather than because I think I should lose weight or look a certain way. I want my life decisions not to be guided by social media and societal messaging, but by what is serving me in a positive way and by what choices bring positivity and purpose. I want to not give a shit about what I will look like in a bikini when I go to Costa Rica, because I want to give more of a shit about the fact that I am in Costa Rica. I want my followers to be friends. I want to inspire people, not tear them down. I want to live my life in a way that is good, positive, meaningful and fulfilling.

On February 14, 2017 – I turn 26 years old.

I want to end my 25th year, living life for me and not giving a shit about what Instagram or societal pressures think about me.

And girl, neither should you!

 

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