I gotta say, time seems to be abundant when you’re not glued to a sometimes soul-crushing app. These past 6 months have been a blessing. I remember how scared I was to leave Instagram thinking that I would have no clients and my whole world would crumble. That never happened. I started my 6 month Instagram detox back in May and now that the time has come for me to rejoin, I could not be happier.
I do have to admit, it took me quite a while to reboot and refocus my energy to grow my business in other places other than Instagram and I am happy to report that not only did I grow, but I kept getting clients. I did so much these past 6 months from soul-searching, working on my personal development to putting all my efforts into Pinterest (more on that later). I feel like I finally have a grip on everything so without further ado, here are the most important lessons from my 6 month instagram detox.
Intention is Everything
Why do you use Instagram? Most of us don’t have a clue why we’re on there other than snapping selfies and sharing the best, albeit staged, moments of our lives. I was on a rollercoaster of posting to get follows, posting certain overly photoshopped pictures for likes, following trends and eventually loosing myself in the app. When you get clear on an intention, why you are using the app, what value posting will bring others and yourself, it changes the game. Its all about digging deep and figuring out what triggers your Insta-anxiety and building your mindset around that.
Once I created my own intention I was able to re-build and re-frame my relationship with the app, which is why I’m back on Insta without the anxiety 😉
Comparison Is An Ugly Monster
It is so easy to feel bad about ourselves and get lost in comparison and competition, we’ve all been there! Falling pray to unhealthy mindsets: What’s the point? Why bother? There’s so many people already doing it, how can I ever stand out? Who am I to have millions of followers? I fell victim to the comparison-trap many a times. I learned that it is so unfair to yourself to compare someone’s middle to your beginning. The way I was able to get over it was by believing that we live in an abundant Universe. There is plenty to go around, there is no scarcity of followers, fame, money, or anything else. So good for them! It’s more like proof that it CAN be done, it just hasn’t been done by you yet. So let’s get crackin’ and leave those strangers on the internet alone.
We Are Living in A Material World
Not everything is picture perfect. People pick and choose what they want to share with the world on Instagram. It’s not real. I know this sounds bad, but its so liberating! Knowing that you don’t need to have that perfectly curated grid, or only show the happy moments is freeing. Worst part is, everyone feels the same way. We all feel this weird self-pressure to only show beautiful glossy “candid” images. While on my detox I had a chance to interact with real humans outside the app and basically everyone would say they felt intimidated by all those picture perfect accounts. And all those accounts? Let me tell you right now, are fake. What they don’t show you is how much of a struggle it was to clean up that corner of their house for that perfect Insta.
Remember You Have a Life Outside the App
I think one of the things that impacted my life when on this detox was seeing other people use Instagram. I cannot tell you how many times I was out with friends and all of them were on their phone scrolling through the ‘gram. I got kind of annoyed but then understood as I remembered I used to be one of them. After my Instagram break, I found that my life experience was much more valuable and nourishing than the interruption that comes from pausing to style, frame and take a picture.
You CAN Be Profitable Without Instagram
My biggest fear was that I would fall off the face of the planet and my income was going to plummet. Being self employed I was extremely nervous that I would have a difficult time finding clients outside the app, much to my surprise I actually found a better way: Pinterest! If I hadn’t quit Instagram I would have never found the goldmine that is Pinterest. It literally tripled my site traffic and I got high paying clients from it (hello Anthropologie!). Seriously you guys, I managed to grow my Pinterest viewers to 2.1 MILLION a month! Crazy right?! I promise to write a post about that… but just to show you, even a 6 month Instagram detox did not wreak havoc on my bottom line.
Don’t Be Too Self-Critical
I used to tie some of my self worth on the number of followers I had and I’m not proud of it. I used to beat myself up and really make myself feel awful because I never even reached 10K. I thought… Am I not talented enough? Not pretty enough? Not good enough? It was awful. By the end of February and before I started with the detox, I was feeling like such a loser, talking down to myself and generally just giving up. I thought my grid looked awful and it didn’t! It was so pretty and colorful and full of Disney, I just felt like it wasn’t perfect. Luckily I had a screenshot of what it looked like on my phone so I can show you what I’m talking about. It’s dated February 18, right before the detox (and before I deleted everything ☹️) ! See what I mean?! My priorities were all wrong and my self-perception was in a bad place, I honestly thought it looked awful. The time away has made me realize that I am way too self-critical and I should just chill.
Happiness Above ALL
Instagram, as a business tool can help you reach your audience, but you always always always have to put your own happiness first. So if a post doesn’t bring you joy, then you shouldn’t post it. If following an account gives you anxiety or triggers you, unfollow it. I am trying to design a life I love, so if something doesn’t fit with that I will simply remove it. I refuse to let an app make me feel unworthy.
There Is a Way to Have An Anxiety-Free Experience
You just have to be open to working on it. An app or a post is only as strong an influence as you let it be. There are thousands of crazy talented people out there. I know I used to beat myself into thinking that I would never be as talented or pretty or have a following (hello comparison monster!), but I chose to let that feeling consume me. There are things you can do to feel good, happy and celebrate someone else’s success. Their success does not mean your failure! It took me a while to learn that one.
My only regret is that I deleted ALL of the pictures on my Instagram. I know I was in a bad place and wanted to sort of remove myself completley from it. But I wish I had kept it so I could see my progress. I know sometimes navigating social media can be hard, but I promise there are ways to feel good and use them in a healthy way. I learned and so can you. What is your biggest lesson from Instagram?