I Was Living A Lie
Deleting instagram was what it took for me to realise that I was living a lie …
Until that point, I thought it was normal to spend countless hours scrolling the newsfeed, that it was natural to look at instagram and want to fix something about myself … At the time, I'd confused inspiration with comparison.
In the lead up to this, I'd flirted with the idea of deleting my account. However, I'd only get so far as deactivating it — usually restoring it within 48 hours, at most, a week. Yet, one afternoon something shifted within me. After realising that I’d just spent the best part of four hours unconsciously scrolling, I thought to myself, why don’t I delete this?
So I did, I permanently deleted my account. The moment I did this I felt completely relieved, it was as if the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. In the week following, my happiness was at an all-time high and I found myself wondering why I hadn’t done it sooner.
Funnily enough, the following months would also be some of my life's most “instagramable” moments. I’d enjoy a year-long summer travelling between Australia, Europe and the United States, visiting some truly remarkable places, all of which were picture perfect. And while I did take thousands of photos, without an account to upload them too, I kept my photos to myself and enjoyed my life all the more.
With instagram out of the picture, my time was redirected into things like reading, learning, exercising and writing. More than ever before I was interested in myself, I began consciously considering who I was, who I wanted to be, the types of thoughts that entered my mind and how I felt on a day to day basis.
Now, before we go on I’d like to clarify that instagram itself, just like everything, has both positives and negatives, it really depends on the context of the user. For many creators — think influencers, celebrities, journalists, entrepreneurs, alternative media, businesses etc. — it is a remarkable tool. Even if you’re simply a follower you can connect and be inspired by others accounts. However, at the time, this wasn’t what was happening for me.
Instead of being a tool, instagram was a trigger that fed my limiting beliefs and encouraged me to compare myself to others. It distracted me from who I really was and the person I was trying to become. While online I projected an image of who I wanted to be, in reality, I was far from it.
In hindsight, it wasn’t necessarily about avoiding instagram, more so about having the space to reconnect with myself and heal. With that space, I had the time and opportunity to look within, to heal my insecurities and rebuild myself. Most importantly it allowed me to transition from seeking external validation to providing myself love and acceptance from within.
Since deleting my account in 2018 I've since rejoined, however, I take a completely different approach with it. My time spent on instagram is done with purpose, where I allocate specific times to post and browse. Generally, the times I'm on there is if I’m promoting a blog or sharing some insight on self-love. Outside of my allocated times for posting I usually delete the app from my phone. In circumstances where I find myself being triggered I simply remove my instagram privileges until I can comfortably return again — while this might not be favourable with the algorithm, my health and wellbeing are far more important.
A break from instagram or social media is definitely something I would recommend to anyone who finds themselves feeling less than their best after using it. If it’s not contributing to your personal or professional growth, consider whether you really need it. You don’t have to be as all or nothing as I was, you could simply deactivate your account for a weekend or a week.
If you’re an influencer or someone whose business revolves around instagram, I urge you to get creative. See if you can outsource or pre-plan posts to reduce your time spent on the app. You may even find yourself being more creative for doing so, I know I certainly did!
Remember, the surface of other people's lives (including their online persona) is not a fair representation of what’s really going on for them. Don’t compare their highlight reel to your reality. Instead, be so in love with yourself and your life, that your reality is what’s most important.