I remember in my second year of university when my house mates ‘J’ and ‘N’ would beg me to ‘get on Instagram‘, because and I quote ‘I was forever taking pictures so why not document them’? They had a point but as a ‘self-confessed perfectionist’ I struggled with the idea of ‘putting myself out there’ and facing the condemnation and strong opinions of my peers. You see I was abused as a child by my stepmother and severely bullied throughout my teen years and early adult life, so I had serious issues with self-confidence and accepting who I was, when others clearly had such negative opinions about me. When others would take photos of me, it would fill me with anxiety because all I could see were flaws and I was paranoid that others would notice too. I imagined the hate I would get and it filled me with dread. But then something changed, I got sick and a light bulb went off. For the first time I realized that I shouldn’t give a f**k about what other people thought; instead I would go out there and live out my dreams, no matter what people said about me.
So that summer of 2015, when the tears would flow as freely as the wine my friends would enjoy I began taking charge of my own destiny. I wrote until my fingers were cramping and took photos to document my journey into blogging. But while many of you know how Blogging Changed My Life, I have never really spoken about my ‘Instagram Journey’ and how it taught me to express and harness my own personal brand of creativity. When I started Instagram, I was immediately hooked and yet it took me two years to even reach 10 K on Instagram. Contrary to what people might think, there is more to Instagram than just images and with a very ‘niche aesthetic’ I found it difficult to find who I was as a person. You see when it comes to image construction, choosing photos that represent who you are on Instagram is bloody difficult. When you find it hard to be confident and struggle with ‘showing self-love’ it can mean endless weeks where you find fault with every image taken. It sounds superficial to say, but taking photos used to make me feel so anxious because I was always worried what people may think.
Even today, I find myself comparing who I am as a Blogger and Instagrammer to others. I find fault with every photo taken, sometimes abandon blog post ideas because the photos are not up to my high standards and always wish that I could be this ‘polished, confident woman’ that others present themselves as. But then I realized something and it became the key to ‘unlocking more followers on Instagram’…there is beauty in imperfection and the more that you share with your audience, the more that they can connect with your page. I thought that the day would never come when I hit 10 K on Instagram, but then as if out of nowhere I hit that magic milestone. I felt close to tears, my audience believed in me and then it hit me. When was I going to start believing in myself? When was I going to accept that I am much better than I think? I know that sometimes my insecurities stop me from living out my dreams, I know that sometimes I fall short of my own high expectations but isn’t it about time that I stopped letting my demons control me and listen to the people around me who tell me that I am good?
So yes I’m not perfect, far from it. I am never going to be that Instagrammer with the perfect hair and the flawless skin. Sure my teeth are not straight and I don’t conform to the ideal of a ‘conventional beauty’ but what I lack in conventionality I make up for through my writing. Because despite Instagram being labelled as an ‘image platform’ we can create so many beautiful stories-whether that be through thought provoking captions or the images that we curate- and Instagram can show our audience who we are as visionaries. My readers, my followers, my friends I want to thank you for always believing in me even when I was so hard on myself. Thank you for not abandoning me when I shared my deepest and darkest moments. You have been with me through thick and thin and as the tears fall once again, this time my tears are infused with happiness. We have shared ups and downs; you held my hand when I was at my most depressed and gave me a salve for my wounds when I struggled to overcome my past. You taught me that there is beauty in simplicity and that while words might be the weapons that we need to survive, our photos are what help us tell our stories with courage and honesty.
We have shared deaths and births together, when you were upset, I too felt your pain. We shone a light in the darkness and used that flashlight to carve out a tunnel that would lead to mutual success. When my readers won awards I would champion them and laugh when they laughed. When I saw that someone was struggling I would reach out to them and lend a helping hand. And when there were stories of engagement and finding forever love my heart would swell with joy, because we all deserve a shot at happiness no matter who you are or what age it says on your birth certificate. We might be oceans apart and be from completely different worlds but that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate everything that you have done for me. So thank you readers, for not only getting me 10 K followers on Instagram but for believing in me, even when I no longer believed in myself.
Thank You x
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