November 13, 2017

Lessons from an Instagram Hiatus (+ Bedhead)

My dear friend instagram, you are that friend I love and find inspiring some days, then totally anxiety inducing the next. I find myself 'tolerating' you, more often than not. But I just can't quit ya.

Instagram was one of the reasons I started my Bedhead project in the first place. When I post flattering photos of myself, I get on average about 50% more likes than posts of my artwork do. If it's me AND my artwork? Bonus!

So what happens when I feel I can't take a flattering photo because of x y or z about my face or my body or my outfit? What happens when all these other folks are looking faboo in every post they put up and I'm left here on my end feeling real frumpy? Well, that answers it. I feel frumpy.

While the bedhead project has helped me greatly in feeling better about myself, I decided to also try a whole month without Instagram. I did this for several reasons:

That frumpy feeling. It's no good, and the artistic or creative inspiration that instagram gives me isn't really worth that feeling.

• I spend way way way way way too much time on instagram. I tried imagining all the work I could get done or the creating I could do in the time I spend scrolling through photos of others' work and life.

I'm working on tackling some anxieties that cause me to fidget, all the time. I constantly need my hands and eyes to be stimulated and I found that instagram was an outlet for that behaviour. Probably a relatively healthy one, but I'm trying to work on mitigating the need for that stimulation altogether.

I managed to stay off instagram for the month of October! I did check it once when someone had told me they'd sent me a message, but otherwise I deleted the app and kept it off my phone altogether.

It's hard to tell if it was instagram alone, because of other efforts towards minimizing my stress and anxious behaviours, and I moved in with my boyfriend for a October as well (as a 'trial run'... exciting stuff for another post!), but my anxieties were at an all time low! Honestly, my appearance was rarely even on my radar beyond having fun with clothes and making myself presentable for work. It was very freeing. I also found myself knitting or reading or working on school work much more deeply and frequently, without little bubbles of distraction from my phone.

As soon as I put instagram back on my phone on November 1st, I spent way too long "catching up". The feeling of being sucked right back into the app was so apparent to me, that I deleted it again the same day! I started comparing myself to others again, mainly when it comes to appearances. I started day dreaming about cutting my hair or dying it or getting a nose piercing. I've caught myself online shopping and wanting more more more, flattering outfits, trendy outfits. Something new. I don't actually want to do these things, but here they are, new ideas in my head.

I've decided not to delete instagram again, though I have been feeling very close to it. I want to learn to find the self confidence and will power to use it wisely. To use it in a way that works towards my goals: sharing my art work with followers, and engaging with other artists on the platform. That's really what I want it to serve as. So, I started by unfollowing all the beautiful fashionistas I followed. Not because I don't still love their style, but because it is damaging to me to see their feeds day in and day out on my phone.

Do you have an instagram where you share your art? I would LOVE to follow you! My instagram for my art is @katiaengell_ , and my instagram for this blog is @house.of.ell if you'd like to follow back.

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