Over the past three years, Instagram has played a really big role in my life: it’s introduced me to a handful of amazing people, it’s taken me to places that I had never been before, and it has opened doors for opportunities I never knew were possible— For someone like me, at least.
When I first created my Instagram account randomly that hot summer day in July of 2015, I wouldn’t have imagined myself to be where I am now. I was transitioning from high school to college and had nothing better to do that summer so I decided to find a hobby. I’ve always loved taking photos of my outfits, but I never showed them to anyone so I turned to Instagram as a creative outlet. I created @simplyviv_ in hopes of sharing my personal style with everyone and Instagram was the perfect platform that gave me the opportunity to share my style with people from all across the world.
This whole entire thing was never meant to get this far, because like all teenagers and their tendencies to give up on random hobbies, this fashion account — this persona I had created online was supposed to disappear when I started the fall semester. I never thought that there’d be people out there that actually cared what I wore. And even yet, have brands that wanted to work with me to promote their clothes. I never thought any of that was possible, but unbeknownst to me, my Instagram somehow started gaining traction, and slowly, people began noticing. And it kept growing, and growing… and then it stopped.
And I think that’s when I realized I somehow lost myself in this whole crazy adventure. The more the numbers grew, the more lost I was. When I first began this account, I didn’t think too much about what I posted - as long as I liked it, it was okay to post. I posted whatever I liked, whenever I liked, regardless of who liked it. There was no theme, there was no optimal hour, there was no doing it just for the likes. And as much as it sucks to admit it, I lost that mentality the more the numbers began to grow.
Maybe it was because with each new follower or the more likes the post had, the more I felt the pressure of it all. I felt the pressure to ‘stay on top’ and give it my best, and don’t get me wrong, I always wanted to give it my all in everything that I do. But that pressure was succumbing because I feel like I lost myself and the love and passion that got me into it in the first place. I began posting photos and outfits that I knew would get more engagement and less of what made me happy. The engagement may have made me happy, but it still left me feeling a little bit empty inside.
But contrary to what people may say, I never felt proud of my work or my photos, regardless of its numbers. I never thought it was good enough, that it was amateur compared to others. I always felt like my account was a work in progress and that maybe one day it’d reach the point where I was completely satisfied with it. But we are our own worst critics so that day has yet to come. I never liked to boast or brag because one day, Instagram can get deleted and everything would go with it and I didn’t want to define my worth and value on that because social media can go in a blink of an eye.
Ironically though, the higher the numbers got, the less I started showing my personality and what made me, me. I didn’t want to put myself out there in fear of what people would say so I always kept my personal life hidden. I didn’t want to show my face, I didn’t want to attach any personal things with my photos, and I’d maybe open up in the captions every so often.
Truth be told, the numbers were satisfying to look at, but they didn’t give any insight or indication as to who I am as a person. I had this whole facade up that concealed my personality. I wasn’t being fake or portraying a fake version of myself but rather, I had built this wall for myself and refused to let any parts of what made me who I am, shine through. But I grew tired of all of that though. I didn’t want to be just a mere body with some nice clothes on it. I wanted to show my personality and be my genuine self that my friends and family know me for. And even beyond that, I realized I have a platform with people who might be willing to listen. I have a voice that might resonate with some people. I can bring awareness and speak out for the things I believe in.
Thankfully though, I think I’ve gotten a whole lot better with this whole number thing. I stopped letting these numbers define who I am because frankly, these numbers don’t affect my quality of life by any means. I found that passion to just post whatever I wanted to again because it made me happy. I no longer felt restrained by the pressure of what people might say or think because what they say or think has nothing to do with me. For once, I’m happy with the content I’m putting out. I stepped away from my garage door (and others’ garage doors) and began experimenting with new things. And while the numbers may not be growing, I am. I’m growing more as an individual with each and every thing that I’m deciding to do because it’s different and it’s scary but that’s just life.
So, cheers to my first blog post of 2019. This is the footing I want to start 2019 with. It’ll be different, but it’s time to just be real and be honest. It’s time to be more than just the outfits I wore. It’s time to be me.
Last but not least, this may get sappy, but to all my OG followers and friends I’ve encountered on here, I’m thankful for each and every single one of you always. I’m always filled with so much love being surrounded by such a supporting community of people. The people I’ve met and gotten to know and will continue getting to know will forever be my favorite part of this whole entire thing. This whole Instagram thing wouldn’t have been possible without you guys.