Saturday, April 2, 2016

Finding My Identity - Part 1 // Why I Took A Break From Instagram.

A few months ago, shortly after I turned 21 in October, I went through a period of confusion and uncertainty. I wrote this post in December and although I was getting small revelations here and there, I was still suffering from a lot of self-doubt and was really insecure about myself. To put it simply, I struggled with my identity. And I struggled with it for a while. I knew that it was something that I needed to address because it wasn't helping me grow in any way. It took some time, but I'm at a place now where I can safely say that I feel more secure about myself and I know who my identity is rooted in.

As I reflect back, I can see how God played His role in this transformation that took place. I can point out a few significant moments that got me to where I am today. Starting with this - my decision to take a break from Instagram.

I know it may sound a little silly but, I decided to take a break from Instagram towards the end of last October. When I first decided to take a break from it, I didn't know how long the break was going to last for. All I knew was that I was getting addicted to it and that it wasn't healthy for me for several reasons.

Firstly, I was trying to find worth in the amount of likes that I had gotten. I don't know how or why, but it suddenly became a competition to get an xx amount of likes on my pictures. I'd spend a lot of time trying to edit my pictures so that they would look Instagram-worthy. Not only that, I would often sit and spend as much as fifteen minutes to half an hour just trying to come up with a caption that would be able to summarise what I wanted to convey without making me sound stupid. I kid you not, I would read and reread my caption several times to make sure that there were no grammatical errors and that what I said made sense. I overthought it and suddenly, what was supposed to be a fun thing for me to share my moments with others, became something that I had based my worth in.

Another reason why I took a break was because I was stuck in a comparison trap. I was comparing myself to everyone else. Like I said, I was insecure about myself. I would often look at other peoples lives and wonder why I couldn't have that. Or why couldn't I look like so and so? I was caught in this trap and I always felt that I came up short as compared to everyone else. In a way, I was trying to live through someone else's Instagram feed instead of feeling blessed with what was right in front of my eyes. Instagram was supposed to help me share my experiences with others and to also feel connected with my friends as I got to see their experiences. But somehow, it made me feel more insecure about myself.

Like I said, I didn't know how long I was going to take a break for when I first did it. I just deactivated my account and deleted the app off my phone. It wasn't until a week later, when I had tried to reactivate my account and found that Instagram had a bug and deleted it, that I realised how addicted I was to Instagram. I panicked in that moment. I thought that I had lost my account forever and tried so hard for two days to get my account back. When I finally got control of my account again, I saw just how much this social media platform had its grip on me. That's when I decided that I wasn't going to go on it again until I had overcome these issues. (I also learnt my lesson and just deleted the app off my phone, leaving my account the way it is.)

Today, I decided that I am ready to get back on Instagram. I know it isn't a big deal to others. I mean, who even cares that I took a break in the first place right? But to me, going back to Instagram kinda signifies my "recovery" and how far I've come as compared to the state of mind that I was in a few months ago. I'm in a much better state now for several reasons (which I will continue in Part 2) so, I feel like I'm ready again.

My break from Instagram has brought me good. It made me realise that there was no point in me comparing myself to what others posted because I was simply comparing my whole life to what I saw on the surface. Just like how I was only posting the highlights of my life up for people to see, other people were simply sharing the highlights of their life too. Again, just like how the things that I post up do not reflect the whole picture of what's going on in my life, what someone posts online doesn't reflect the whole picture of what's going on in their life too.

I feel like I now have a clear mind. Going back to Instagram, I want to do so because I want to share my pictures and my experiences with others. It's my creative outlet so I shouldn't have to bother about what others would think. It isn't a competition and my worth isn't in the amount of likes that I get. Sure, it's nice to be acknowledged for something that you share with others but it doesn't define who I am. I'm actively reminding myself not to fall into the comparison trap again because I know that God created me to be the way that I am for a reason.

I know that it's easy to fall into the comparison trap but, imagine how much more happier we would be if we remained grateful for the things that we did have.

Love, Ainsley.