My Two Months Break From Instagram & What I Learned
On July 30, 2018, I decided on a whim that I would take a break from Instagram.
A little backstory
At that point, I have had my account for about two years and a half. Right at the beginning, I did not know how Instagram was exactly working, but because books were always a big part of my life, I started posting pictures of what I was reading. Soon after that, I discovered there was an entire community built around people’s love for books, called, you guessed it, bookstagram. So I joined it (or rather was adopted into it) and through it, I met wonderful people and even made some real-life friends.
For about one year and a half, everything was great. I loved posting pictures of the books I was reading, I did not put much effort into it and I did not over-analyze things. Sure, I liked setting up a pretty picture and tried my best to make it look ok, but I did not dwell over it. I also did my best to engage with people and I never allowed myself to mindlessly scroll through my feed or the explore page.
Now, if you read my about page, you already know that in 2017 I began studying drawing, illustration and graphic design on my own. At that point, I also started following people from the art community. At first, I found other people’s work to be very inspirational. I read stories about how they started their careers or businesses as artists, designers or illustrators and felt motivated.
After a while, my attitude towards Instagram and towards everything that was going on, on there, changed. Suddenly, I started paying more attention to what other people in a similar situation as mine did. And while that wasn’t a bad thing in itself, somewhere along the way I kind of lost myself. And I fell into the comparison trap. My brain got all foggy. I began thinking and saying to myself things like:
So and so read so many books this month, why can’t I do the same? I suck, I’m not a real reader;
So and so have such great pictures, their feed is so pretty, why can’t mine be the same? I suck at taking pictures;
So and so write such engaging captions and such great book reviews, why can’t I write like that?
So and so do that and do this, they’re amazing, I’m worthless.
And on top of that, I was also comparing my drawing and painting skills with those of people who were doing this for a long time. Which was such a stupid thing to do, because it’s not ok to compare your beginning with someone else’s middle.
I was feeling miserable. And, while you may not agree with me, it was all my fault. It was also unfair towards the people I was comparing myself too. Because what I was doing wasn’t comparing my life or my lifestyle with those of the “picture perfect Instagrammers” (I don’t follow people from that side of the gram), I was comparing my skills or lack thereof, to those of the people whose skills were better. And those people worked to have those skills, alright? They didn’t just woke up one day and had them. They worked towards having beautiful pictures or towards having an aesthetically pleasing feed. They worked for writing engaging captions or great book reviews, they made time and put in the effort to read that many books in a month, they took the time to practice their drawing and painting skills. They didn’t just sit on their arses every day waiting for things to happen.
The truth is, most of the time, I wasn’t taking any real action towards the things I wanted to accomplish or the things I wanted to be better at. I just whined about stuff and constantly put myself down. Looking back, it all seems rather stupid now and very egoistic on my behalf. All that wasted time, when instead I could’ve worked more towards improving the skills I wanted to improve or I could’ve engaged more with people in a real meaningful way.
Thank goodness, I finally took that break. And the funny thing is, when I took it, I thought I was taking it just because of Instagram and because I was tired of other people making me feel miserable, not because of my attitude or the stupid way in which I was approaching things.
So what changed?
While I took this break I finally got serious about my business and mustered up the courage to get the ball rolling, but most importantly I took myself and what I want to do with my life, seriously.
In the first month, I also read more books than in any other month of this year, without feeling any pressure. I took the time and did and redid my reading-inspired illustrations for as many times as I needed before I sent them to my printers so I could take the next step for my business.
I finally took some long overdue Skillshare classes on subjects I was interested in, including photography. I took the time to set up this blog. I practiced my writing skills. I figured out how to do my finances. I took back my motivation and regained my confidence in my abilities. I started running again. I listened to podcasts and felt inspired.
I finally got the hypothetical opinions of others about me, out of my head. I made time to analyze things from my past, had some realizations and identified some patterns of behavior that weren’t doing me any good.
The way I see things now is: before I was allowing the app to take control of my mental state and well-being. I now know I am the one in control of it (always was). And while exercising that control might prove to be difficult, I’m going to make sure I won’t allow it to impact my life in such an unhealthy way ever again. That’s why, now that I’m back, I’m setting boundaries. No more checking the app every other ten minutes. No more refreshing it for the millionth time to see how many likes that new post got. No more looking at other people wonderful posts and making myself feel miserable.
Is everything unicorns and rainbows, now?
Short answer: NO.
But things are better. My head is clearer. The brain fog is gone.
I am now looking forward to using the app in a healthy and joyful way, once again. I want to be as real and as authentic as I can and have my personality come across as close to my real life one as possible. And lastly, I hope to engage more meaningfully with the people there.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post! If you’d like to connect with me you can do so on Instagram.