One square photo. One little box under our fingertip that we scroll through daily. That’s all it takes for us to form an opinion about someone or something.
These little squares are composed under the right light, edited with the best photo-enhancing tools and filters, and posted with witty and well-crafted captions. They tell us who’s up to what, who’s hanging out with whom, and who’s gone to the latest café in town. We look at them when we’re bored, when we’re stuck in traffic, and when we’re hanging out with our friends.
We see these and it sparks something inside of us. On some days, it’s envy, because we wish we were doing this or going there, just like our friends. Other days, it’s inadequacy, because we don’t seem as accomplished as others.
But we forget that while these photos are real instances, they do not fully reflect reality. Rather, they’re more like a highlight reel. I’d daresay that many of us *#doitforthegram more often than we’d like to admit.
So I can say it, as I’m sure many of you can: I’m not who you see on Instagram.
I think through my captions. I insert and delete words. I try to pick just the right photo to go along with what I want to say. I take time to decide what to say and how to say it.
Although my goal for my Instagram account is to inspire, encourage, and love people, I can’t say that I am happy and enthusiastic all the time. According to my Instagram feed, I may look like I have it somewhat together. I have great friends to go with on weekend adventures, new places to hike in and explore, and a great brother and sister-in-law whom I spend a lot of my time with laughing and third-wheeling on their dates. And I can strike a yoga bridge pose on a paddleboard without effort!
But if you really knew me, you’d know the truth is somewhat different. Sure, my feed is full of actual events and portrays how I strive to live daily. But it does not reflect my every waking moment.
I have my struggles and doubts. My cheerful persona online doesn’t mean there aren’t days when I grow impatient waiting and want to settle down because I can’t figure out what God wants me to do or where He wants me to be. I have my stressful days as well as days when I’m super pumped and expectant, knowing that God is working behind the scenes in my life. There are times when I question whether what I have to say is even making a difference, and times when I get to witness how what I’ve said has encouraged someone else.
Social media has a way of making it seem like everyone has their stuff together and their life is flawless. Don’t get caught in believing those lies and start comparing your lives to those of others. Just because we don’t see the bad days and struggles of these people doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Next time you find yourself wishing your life were like so-and-so’s, remember that you are where God meant you to be. You are loved. You don’t need makeup and filters to make yourself look more appealing so someone will like you more.
Instead, embrace your natural beauty and quirkiness. Laugh at yourself. Ask people questions, be curious in a world that is more focused on communicating behind a screen. Be yourself unapologetically in a world that tries to dictate who you should be. Love the unlovable, forgive the unforgivable, take a chance and know that God has your back, and most importantly, be the person God has called you to be—fully and without fear.
The number of double taps and followers we get do not define who we are or how much we are worth. We’re so much more than a tiny square photo.
So, no, I’m not who you see on Instagram. I’m so much more, as you are. I laugh, I cry, I freak out, I get excited, I stress out about silly things. I think I have it all figured out, then I stumble, laugh, and keep chugging along when I realize God has other plans for my life.
What you see on Instagram is part of who I am, but behind every photo, behind every social media account, there’s an author with a valuable life and an incredible story. There are emotions, passions, hopes and dreams, and all that we are cannot be minimized to fit into a social media platform, for we are so much more than that.
*#doitforthegram is used to refer to someone does something unique with the sole intention of taking a photo to post on Instagram.