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What I Learned from Instagram Storying My Life

What I Learned from Instagram Storying My Life

When it comes to social media, I’ve never been the earliest adopter. So recently I tried to pick up Snapchat and just couldn’t get the hang of it. I just didn’t understand how to capture, shape, and share my 10-second clips. Do I use filters or no? Am I just sending messages to my friends or to the whole world? Am I not able to get the hang of it because I’m reaching my mid-30s? Am I becoming an old dog that can’t learn new tricks!?

So the other day I went through all the updates on my phone I had been neglecting and noticed Instagram was now offering a new feature called “Instagram Stories.” Apparently, it’s a lot like Snapchat, but since I never got the hang of Snapchat, I wouldn’t know. Instagram is my favorite social media platform. I love sharing vignettes of my life—from career to adventure to family—in a single frame paired with a brief description. So I’m already familiar with Instagram and wanted to give this Instagram Story thing a try.

Here’s how Instagram Story works

As of right now, October 2016, Instagram Story is a feature in Instagram where you can share photos and videos, up to 10 seconds long, in a chronological order. You can add text, drawings, and filters (I didn’t realize you could swipe over the image to add a filter for a few days – oops!) to your photos and videos. It’s separate from your usual feed and the stories only remain on your profile for up to 24 hours.

The vibe is a bit less curated than Instagram. Because the stories you share aren’t permanent they aren’t meant to be as polished or cohesive your main feed. They can be a bit more … real.

An Instagram Story Challenge

I knew I wouldn’t get the hang of Instagram Stories unless I immersed myself in it. So I gave myself a challenge: I would Instagram Story my life for a full week.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about what a day in the life is like for a creative entrepreneur who seemingly prioritizes everything (which is really the opposite of prioritizing, right?) – from health and fitness to family and work. I thought Instagram Stories would be a great way to share a behind-the-scenes peek into what’s really going on in my day-to-day. And at the same time, I’d be able to get the hang of a new platform. My goal was to capture a picture or video every hour I was awake.

A few days in, I surprised myself with the insights I was taking away from the experience. So I thought I’d share them with you here today:

Instagram stories taught me that life is made up of a bunch of little imperfect moments

If you spend a bulk of your life online (as most of us creative entrepreneurs who run an online business do) then you are used to seeing the picture perfect highlight reels on blogs, Instagram, and Pinterest. And while I intellectually know what I’m seeing on social media isn’t the whole picture, it doesn’t make me any less immune to wanting a picture perfect life that mirrors the ones I’m ingesting all day long on the internet.

I know that everyone says social media is making us less present to what’s in front of us, but I found that Instagram Stories was actually helping me celebrate the little moments in my day-to-day—imperfections and all. Some of those imperfect highlights include:

  • My son spitting a chicken nugget out into my hand – which undoubtedly felt like some sort of milestone in motherhood. The next day I got to capture an entire fist full of play-doh smashed into the vintage rug I had just scored at an estate sale.
  • My dad unpacking a box of hornet’s nests – to allegedly hang over doors to scare off potential thieves (and in the background, my mom was making chocolate chip cookies, per request of her grandchildren… and me.)
  • Skyping with my team – with a remote team working from all over the country, we meet once a week over Skype to go over priorities, blocks, and next steps. It’s pretty standard, but capturing it on Instagram Stories made me realize how lucky I am to live in 2016 where working remote with some of the most talented creatives is so easy to do.

Instagram Stories helped me celebrate the big moments too!

I live a very full life and while that comes with imperfect moments and bumps in the road, I also get to experience a lot of really incredible opportunities. The week I was Instagram Storying my life I got to go on a trip to Toronto with Emily for a Being Boss Weekend. Our sponsor Freshbooks Cloud Accounting hosted us at their headquarters for a live podcast recording and an after party at a local brewery. We also had a meet & greet party at a cowboy bar complete with a mechanical bull and line dancing lessons.

From professional wins, like getting to travel the world doing what I love and meeting creatives from all over, to personal victories like checking “ride a mechanical bull like Sissy from Urban Cowboy” off my bucket list, Instagram Stories was there to remind me these are moments worth acknowledgment and celebration.

Instagram stories helped me shift some boundaries I’ve been struggling with

Right after I had my son (now 2.5 years old), I couldn’t help but share him on Instagram – he was my best creation yet and I was a proud mom. Until one day a creep liked every single photo of him (hundreds!) and only of him. He didn’t “like” any other photos that included me or my husband in the photo or photos of travel or food. Just the baby. I literally spent all night throwing up and immediately deleted 90% of the images of my kid. It was a wake-up call that made me truly reassess my sharing boundaries, but the truth is … I want to be able to share more of my life as a mom – but that’s hard to do when so much of who I am as a parent has to do with the relationship I have with my child.

When I started Instagram Storying my life I found that I felt more comfortable sharing images and videos of my son that I wouldn’t otherwise on my blog or in my more permanent feed. Because the photos and videos aren’t permanent, my boundaries shifted in what I was willing to share – and that felt good.

I share a lot about the hard parenting stuff – the sleep deprivation, the long days, and the irrational toddler tantrums. But I loved how Instagram allowed me to share the good parts of parenting too – the smaller nuanced moments that aren’t quite as easy to capture in perfect lighting or a dressed set. Instagram stories helped me share the flip-side of why I do in fact love being a mom.

Instagram stories allowed me to share more of my story

I have a long history of personal blogging – in fact, it’s how I really got a start in online business and personal branding. Over the past couple of years, a variety of factors have taken my attention away from sharing my everyday story… and every day I miss capturing and sharing my real life. While I would love to write personal essays elevating the everyday experience like Nora Ephron or Kelly Oxford, the truth is I just don’t have time right now when I need to prioritize creating content for my podcast, write a book, launch an offering or product that will get me a paycheck, run my business(es), and raise a family.

But I loved how Instagram Stories put me back in touch with well … my story. And folks seem to resonate with it in the same way they did with my personal blog. I’m getting a ton of feedback that sharing my life is making other moms feel less chaotic. My smart and creative peers are laughing at my jokes. My dear friends are telling me to tell my family hello when I share our weekend gatherings.

I suppose Instagram Stories is reminding me that even the moments I was shrugging off, dismissing as mundane, or even dreading (from insomnia to an hour-long bedtime routine with my toddler) are still entirely worthy of this life I’m living. So maybe one day those little snapshots will make their way into a collection of essays (I hope!), and capturing them in the moment will help them stay sticky in my mind.

Instagram stories taught me that I don’t do (or share) it all

I get asked all the time how I do it all. And the truth is I do a lot, but I don’t do it all. I hope Instagram Stories showed that I have a creative wolfpack and a tribe of support – from my assistant to my nanny who feels like family, to my actual family that watches my child while I’m traveling for business.

I also realized that even as I’m capturing moments from every hour of my day, there are still things I don’t (or won’t) share. It became a bit of a joke – playful groans ensued when I said “Wait! I need to Instagram Story this!” But for as much as I captured, there were special moments that never made it to social media. Heartfelt conversations, shared meals, intimate connections, and belly-busting laughs … Some moments aren’t made for sharing and that’s okay too.

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For more Instagram fun (and future Instagram Stories), you can follow Kathleen on Instagram at @andkathleen and Being Boss at @beingbossclub

Kathleen Shannon
Kathleen is the co-host of Being Boss Podcast, helping creative entrepreneurs learn how to run their own creative business while being their most authentic selves. She also co-owns Braid Creative, a brand and business visioning studio for creative entrepreneurs. You're already in the right place to listen to Being Boss podcast episodes and read more Being Boss blog posts, but you can also say hi online through the Being Boss Clubhouse.
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