For When Social Media Bums You Out

There's a lot of white space. Loose waves. Tribal print leggings on chubby thighs. Candid smiles that are never blurry like mine.

Every once in a while I go through a phase where Instagram just bums me out.

I was decorating for Christmas, trying my hand at making a wreath for the first time and when I finished, I have to admit, I was pretty happy with the results. I patted myself on the back, hopped on Instagram, and bam. First picture I see, I think: "Oh, that one is way better than mine, mine totally sucks. Should have done what she did." I scroll down a bit and read the caption: " Just learned to make my own wreath, so festive!"

And then I lost all my Christmas spirit.

At that time, my Instagram feed was crammed full of designers, writers, crafty DIY bloggers, and pretty much anyone that identifies with that trendy "maker" term. I follow friends and family too, but they post once a week, if that, so in general, every time I got on the 'gram I was met with perfect houses, families, food, words and hair.

The hair is always so perfect.

I'd see the healthy "glow bowl" for lunch and be bummed out by my peanut butter and jelly.

I'd see the mountain picture with the lake in the background and be kicking myself for not being more adventurous and taking time to explore the world.

I'd see the kids lined up in front of a garage door all casually giggling and looking with bright eyes at each other and wonder why I have to bribe mine with chocolate to even stand in front of the camera.

I'd see the marble kitchen with white subway tile and brass hardware and think mine is too ugly to cook in.

I'd see the new writing gig or podcast or book deal or business and wonder why I'm so uncreative and unsuccessful at life and don't have "something" yet.

I'd see every picture, every caption, every link and think, "I'm a failure. I'm a terrible wife/mom/person that cannot get it together or do anything well." Not always those words exactly, but that's what that gross feeling in my chest means.
I took the above photo when my friend was visiting. Took me about 20 minutes from initiation to posting. A solid 10 of it went to pushing objects around on the table to get the right spacing and telling my friend, "No, I don't want your face in it. Just your hands. Only your hands! Get yo' face outta there!" (All in love, I swear.) The other 10 to editing and writing the caption. As I did it, she told me she was so glad to see how hard I had to work to get that post up. That my life didn't "just look like that." That this pretty photo and others like it are at the least somewhat contrived, created.

And I realized that's what I was forgetting about the people in my feed. In general, I was following people who do Instagram as part of their job. They are professionals at posting amazing photos and writing creative captions. And sometimes, that's inspiring and encouraging to me. While I'm definitely not a professional, I can enjoy crafting a well taken photo too - Instagram is a hobby and part of this blog for me, so I understand (at a very, very small scale) others who put a lot of time into their feed. And I am genuinely happy that there are so many women creating beautiful posts and words - I love watching other people's successes - be it their travels, book deals, product lines or even just seeing their beautiful lunch - because I'm often influenced and energized by the artistic, gorgeous things they do.

But sometimes, it just bums me out. It's not what I need. Depending on the season of life I'm in, sometimes my soul just can't handle the perfection - because I can't remember that it's not the whole truth.  And right now, I'm in a hard season where it all does is make me feel like a failure.

So I unfollowed nearly all of them.

The term "ignorance is bliss" applies quite well here.

Maybe someday I'll follow a few of them back again, but for now, can I just tell you how freeing it feels? It's so liberating to just be happy with what is. With my home, my kid's clothes, my Christmas decorations, my giftings, my opportunities, my life.

And so I ask you, do you need a break right now? Maybe it's not Instagram, maybe it's Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest. Is social media bumming you out? If it is, you have my full permission to unfollow all the makers, creatives, or even just that friend that looks "too perfect" that you need to. (Even if it's me!) Be happy with who you are and the things you do - not unhappy because you saw something "better" on social media.

If you're feeling like a failure because of what you're seeing in your feed, unfollow, block, unsubscribe, unfriend. Maybe there will be a different season when you can follow all those people again, but right now, do what's best for your soul. It'll change your outlook on your family, your home and yourself when you're not comparing everything to an unrealistic standard.

Who's with me? Anyone else ever done this?

Like this post? I share a whole lot more on over on Facebook (Oakland Avenue) and Instagram (@laurawifler) and I'd love it if you followed along!

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