The Highlight Reel Is Very Real.

I remember when Instagram first entered my life, freshman year of high school at a volleyball tournament when I didn’t give social media much thought at all. Back then, I barely used it. Scrolling occasionally and posting when I had done something interesting enough to share. It had been popular long before I jumped on board.

11 years after it’s official launch, Instagram is a whole new world. Massively impacting the economy, digital age, career opportunities, and entrepreneurship while simultaneously contributing to mental health issues, depression, instant gratification, and endless comparisons. It is the result of incredible business models, new revenue streams, and successful influencers, but that comes with a price.

While Instagram is utilized in many ways, affecting its users based on individual lifestyles, interests, goals, and vulnerabilities, I can only accurately attest to the complexity in my experience. It is encouraging and inspiring and the concept is a powerful one while it can be equally confusing and overwhelming. That is why this topic reaches your eyes today.

Many people know when enough is enough, they have a good radar for marketing schemes, and do not have the predisposition to grow affected by their feed. Unfortunately I am not one of those people, which is exactly why I began to think (in relation to instagram)…. What do you want from me? Although it had crossed my mind many times before, I was hit once again with the innate realization that I simply can not keep up with everything I see. Well it is up to me to choose my followers, I still fall victim to the flashy celebrities and idea of “having it all.” It’s not just the pictures, but the paragraphs of advice, continuous stories, and high end marketing that keep a person stimulated and drained all at the same time. Today I got frustrated just thinking about it - the plethora of knowledge I voluntarily shove down my throat each day.

In the beginning, it was workout ideas that made the gym more fun, keeping track of friends, or documenting my own life that made room for Instagram in my world. (I think many people can relate to that.) However, the innocence and simplicity did not last long for me and I see now the ways in which it can hurt. I will never discredit the power of social media nor disregard the growth it has provided. I just want to shine light on the things people often ignore. I want to point out that what we see is not the whole picture and you can NEVER be someone else. No matter how much you copy them online.

For me, Instagram has gone back and forth between passion and self loathing. I can love it yet have the tendency to get carried away.

From exercise to restriction to baking to clean eating to obsessive self care to supplement addiction. Listening to one person’s diet turned into listening to ten. One day I’d be convinced that plant-based eating was the only way until some other credible source assured me that eating meat is vital to sustainable energy and muscle maintenance. I have done cleanses, hated smoothies one month only to love them the next, prioritized working out over seeing friends, and then later believed best results actually come from rest. I continually questioned my innate needs the more I depended on someone else to guide them.

Every person getting paid to market has a “newer” and “better” idea for the model of health, the best way to live life, the answer to letting go, or even the reason for holding on. Continually listening to other people cuts you off from listening to yourself, it keeps you from understanding your own body, your own needs, and your own internal signs.

For example, one person may suggest going gluten free while others recommend high quality grains, but think rice is the devil. They tell you their way is best. One says that stress is the ultimate killer, but the next assures you working out can make you feel better “no matter what!”

Celery juice, yoga, pilates, HIIT workouts, long distance running, liquid cleanses, plant-based, paleo, whole 30, non toxic products, organic vs. conventional, lotion or oil, raw, saunas, charcoal detox, meditation, sleep, chia seeds, essential oils, candles are bad, cleaning products are scary, don’t ever take medicine, probiotics are gold, homemade EVERYTHING, breath work - it’s a lot.

It’s all consuming. Because? There’s no one answer. One influencer will push produce (conventional or not) while others will swear by organic and avoid anything else in sight. One day sugar is the devil, but then one 25 year old model will promise that bad sleep is much worse than a candy bar.

The amount of advice, source of information, and accuracy of evidence is fluid. And, it is all the reason to remember: no one person’s routine is applicable to their one million followers. Popularity does not equal reliability.

I have seen a lot of influencers preach different morning rituals, fad food choices, popular forms of movement, and best acts of self care. I got caught up in it, I’m human and that’s exactly why I’m writing this. I took a step back from it because I saw it creeping into my life. Taking everything with a grain of salt is no doubt the recommended practice within Instagram and social media in general. You can’t do everything and that person you look up to, is certainly NOT doing everything either. The highlight reel is very real.