I'm all about those pretty Instagram squares. I love the flawless bright white layouts and cosy home inspo posts and all those outfits of the day posts that give me an urge to buy a whole new wardrobe, or worse- throw it all away and attempt to start a 'capsule wardrobe'. But Instagram also has another side to it, the side that makes me bite my lip until it bleeds and my heart pound flutter with anxiety. The side that confirms all of my insecurities and makes me feel rubbish for wearing leggings and a hoody or not having the perfect arrangement of 'curated clutter on my dressing table. So today thats what I want to talk about, because it's been especially getting to me this last few weeks.
All those filters to choose from.. is the brightness to high? Is my image too saturated? Does that filter make my skin look too pale? Does it fit with my 'theme'? Is that a dirty sock in the background? Do I look fat? Does my jewellery look flawless? Did I forget to make the bed? What caption should I put? What emoji will be perceived best? Will anyone like it?
So many worries.
Does my life look anything less than perfect in this image? (Ok- so I don't actually ask myself that one... But I think thats what all those questions come down to. The persona of perfection.)
Insta-anxiety is a thing. Well it is for me anyways. I genuinely think, however long I do this for I will always have those doubts and wobbles about what I am posting. Its not just with my business, I've been having anxiety over Instagram since I first got a personal account, however many years ago that was. Worrying about how many people will like what I just posted, asking myself "Do they really want to see another beach picture?" Letting the number of likes my selfie received define my worth. Stressing over that selfie with a lazy eye. I wish I could say I didn't do that anymore, but I do, years older but still battling those same insecurities.
It can be a wonderful place, but also a damaging one that can reinforce each one of your insecurities and self-doubts.
This last six months I've struggled with Instagram more than ever. Contstantly infuriated with its new algorithm and also shocked at some of the people who use it sometimes. (I'll save that for another post.)
So whilst I am so grateful for the many friends I have found through Instagram and the incredible customers its helped me to find, I am also anxious about it.
When did I start caring what a 'peak time' to post was?
Somewhere along the way Instagrams algorithm changed and got a bit lost I think, it made it a little harder for small businesses to find customers and bloggers to find friends without paying for an ad. That's when a lot of us set about doing lots of research to figure out where our posts were going and why people didn't seem to be engaging with us as much as they used to. But before that happened a lot of us were left wondering 'What am I doing wrong?'.
Whilst a number of likes should never and don't define who we are or what we are worth, sometimes it can feel that way. Still now, when I have spent countless hours researching this mysterious algorithm I find myself wondering what I could be doing wrong when my post receives 70 likes as appose to the 250+ they were getting back in 'the good old days'.
We all have things going on behind those perfect little squares, some of us are brave and have began to talk about it on Instagram, breaking down those barriers and admitting life isn't all just pretty squares. Those people amaze me and I feel so honoured that they choose to share their lives and their stories with us. But some of us are still intent in keeping that persona of perfection. (I am probably one of those people)
When it comes to business on Instagram I really don't know what is best. But I will always be myself and I am an irritatingly positive person, so I choose to share my positives with you and when there aren't any you'll probably find I fall silent on Instagram... And thats okay, because sometimes when you have a backlog of orders, feel like your fighting off a cold and have just had a packaging delivery dropped in your office and you're trying to juggle your home life, things are chaotic and messy and that 'insta perfect, cool white backdrop home' just isn't happening.
I try to keep it real, but it gives me so much anxiety it isn't actually worth it for me. I'm quite an anxious person, I'll be honest. I get anxiety about people seeing washing on the airer in my living room, I long for summer when I can invite people round and not have the worry of finding it a new home (because unless you have a laundry room, where the hell is that big ugly lump of wire and clothes supposed to go?!)
I guess I find myself constantly comparing myself on social media. To other companies, bigger and more established, to other designers, more creative and daring, to other homes with perfectly positioned scatter cushions, to other people with better hair and flawless skin, to other couples who give each other lavish gifts and go on exciting date nights and holidays... I find myself using it to find more insecurities, insecurities I didn't know I had or needed to recognise.
It's not that I mean to. It's not that I am scrolling through my feed looking for things to make me feel bad about myself. And I am certainly not knocking what other people share/have/do on Instagram. I'm in full support of that girl who just did 200 squats to show off her butt in those yoga leggings, I am just wondering when I will stop comparing myself? When I will stop becoming anxious of what I am sharing and if it looks perfect enough to be added to my feed? What other people will think of me and my life..
But I guess the most important thing is that without comparing myself to a skinnier girl with a better wardrobe, home and bigger business, I am happy. Without these comparisons my insecurities are smaller, less of a 'big deal' to me. Comparison can be great, and it can motivate you to make a necessary change sometimes. But in many cases it causes you to doubt yourself and your worth.
Cara Suthers did a Poll a few weeks ago and asked why people will 'LIKE' an Instagram photo. I think the answers were something like "To support a nice person I like" or "Because it was a nice photo" The majority of the vote went towards the "Nice Photo" answer, I think maybes I even voted for that too. I'm still not sure how I feel about it all but it certainly made me stand back and think.
The majority of the time I like somebody's photo because I am in support of them or their business, because I 'like them as a person' as such. But the rest of the time I am seeking out those flawless images that probably took a lot of work. Not only because they're usually the 'prettiest' but because I think its really important to identify when somebody is investing a lot of time and effort into their Instagram feed and acknowlege that with a like. It says a lot about them as a person, a business and (or) a blogger.
Instagram investment is one of the things I have let slip recently. I feel a little unmotivated to spend hours with my camera trying to create and edit a beautiful instal-worthy image for it only to reach 100 people. I just feel like when you run a business there are sometimes other things you could spend more time doing and improving. But maybes thats just because my passion lies elsewhere, not in photography or marketing but in creating and making. Forming and marking and joining silver into beautiful pieces of jewellery for people to keep forever.
I'll keep trying though. I'd really appreciate a bit of love to keep me motivated though, I'll be sure to do the same for you.
Thank you for giving my little blog post a read.. I hope I'm not alone on the insta-anxiety and I hope with time I can learn to stop comparing myself so much.
Wishing you a wonderful week, best wishes,