Every day, I stare at the chart in my office. It has every day of the week and a column on each day for my social media posts. Some days it feels daunting, other days it feels invigorating. But mostly it just feels like work.
Instagram is by far my favorite platform. I love to waste time scrolling through my feed, seeing what my friends are liking and commenting on, and searching through hashtags for other creatives. It’s the one that feels like the least amount of work. But it’s safe to say that at least once a day, Instagram gives me a mini anxiety attack. I see accounts with anywhere from 5K-200K followers and they all look the same:
- Selfies … And not the fun ones that are relatable. Just photo after photo of themselves, looking fly AF.
- Clean, white spaces … It’s as if these people don’t have dirt in their homes, restaurants, or even the outdoor spaces they frequent.
- The hashtag #blessed … Ever notice how some people actually use this in a non-ironic way?
- Perfectly dressed, smiling children … Where do they find all those adorable clothes and babies who never cry?
- Coffee and gourmet meals and expensive vacations … How do you have so much money? All of you!
Now, these are gross generalizations. Obviously, not every single person with a large following has a perfect life or an account that only tells the stories I wrote above. But sometimes, it feels that way! If feels like this little world is just projecting perfection in every square, screaming to the rest of us that our lives just aren’t as great.
As a small business owner, my life is the exact OPPOSITE of a lot of these photos. My house has not been tidied in what feels like a year. My desk is a mess. Always. Most of my lunches are a rotisserie chicken with dry spinach because I haven’t had time to go grocery shopping and I’m too lazy to make anything more interesting. I put on makeup exactly 14% of the time. Looking through Instagram usually makes me feel less-than. They make me feel like I do not, in fact, have my shit together. I look at all these other women and think, “What do they have that I don’t? What am I missing here?”
So I did a little experiment with my Instagram the past few months. I tracked everything I posted—what it was, the time of day, and who interacted. I posted things that I normally wouldn’t post, just to see what would happen. I posted selfies, clean spaces, smiling children, pretty coffee, etc. And you know what? They got 3x the interaction of my other posts that were much more reflective of me and my brand.
I was so discouraged. I felt like if I was going to be successful in this creative world, I would have to succumb to projecting a person I am not, just for exposure. But then…
There were glimmers—albeit small ones—of hope. I posted a video of me in my messy office dancing and it got the most attention that whole week. I posted my real life lunch of potato chips crumbled up into a tub of guacamole (just call me Chef!) and people loved it. Some of my cliched coffee shop photos didn’t get a ton of interaction, and I was thrilled.
I realized that if you’re intentional, consistent, and honest about who you are, you will attract the people you want.
The people who liked my selfies and perfectly clean spaces were the exact people promoting the lifestyle that seems unattainable. And good for them if that is their real life! But it’s not mine and I don’t ever want to make someone feel less-than because of something I post.
I want my day-to-day life to be inspiring to the people around me. I want to encourage others to be exactly who they are and be bold with their hopes and dreams. Why would I ever want my online personalities to be different from that? I want my words and posts to shout a resounding, “Me too!” rather than “Don’t you wish your life was as great as mine?” So screw what seems popular. I’m embracing what I love and looking to attract my creative community. I think if we all start doing this, Instagram might become a place of inspiration and encouragement rather than a hole of comparison and self-pity.
These are my favorite accounts to follow. I highly recommend them and I would absolutely love to know who you guys like following for a breath of fresh air!
@celestebarber … Celeste is literally the change I want to see in the world.
@emilymcdowell_ … Her specialty is Empathy cards (which are fantastic), but really everything she does is funny and inspiring.
@mmmtogo … Her series about 100 Terrible Ideas makes me laugh out loud every time she posts.
@katejbaer … Especially her Instagram stories and Snapchat. Real life, folks.
@imomsohard … I’m not even a mom and these ladies just speak straight truth about how hard it is to be a lady in this world.