I have just returned home after 2 and a half weeks in the most incredible country - Namibia. The wonders of Namibia are worth a separate blog post, but today I wanted to write about how disconnecting from the online world whilst away made me question my presence online and how it might be affecting my mental, and physical health.
For the first time in almost 4 years of posting regularly on Instagram I was forced to stop using the app due to internet connection being very rare, if not non-existent, in the remote places that we were travelling through. At first my husband and I found it novel, and enjoyed not having the distraction, but as the days turned into weeks we realised how much more time we had for each other, and how much time we had wasted staring at a screen.Most importantly it is the people who I’ve met online, and many now in real life too, that make me stick around on Instagram. I cannot pretend that this app hasn’t progressed my career, with opportunities to teach internationally I never thought would come my way, and wardrobe full of beautiful activewear that my earnings as a Pilates instructor could never actually afford! I want to be clear that I am very grateful for all of this, but also want to be honest with anyone who cares about how this app has affected me in a negative way.
I swore to never use a quote on Instagram, but whoever wrote “comparison is the thief of joy” must have known that Instagram was going to be invented some day! Scrolling through snapshots of curated lifestyles and comparing it to the reality of your own can completely warp ones perspective. Even though I am very happy in ‘real life’ I’ve realised that it would only take a moment of comparison to throw that off. One of my oldest and best friends (who is also a Pilates instructor) told me a while back that she had stopped following my account as it was making her question her own work (for the avoidance of doubt she is an incredible and innovative teacher, who just happens to not post on Insta). That really hit home. I don’t want to be a part of making someone feel anything but positive.
One of my own biggest comparison struggles is body image. After years of struggling with body image due to my schooling and career in dance, I have found myself falling back into the same old habits of picking myself apart when editing the videos and photos that I am about to post. I’m all for self exploration and critique, but when that turns from “how can I improve this movement?” into “which one do I look skinniest in?” it’s time to re-evaluate.
I have been suffering with a hip and back injury over the past few years, and after three weeks of not contorting myself into crazy positions for Instagram, low and behold my pain has almost disappeared! I would never suggest that my clients get into some of the positions I twist myself into, so why am I doing to myself? We all know why....
Lastly, in 2017 I vowed to delete the word ‘busy’ from my vocabulary, due to being fed up of always blaming ‘busyness’ for my lack of efficiency or success. I did that pretty well, but I didn’t magically have loads of extra time on my hands.... until I deleted Instagram. I dread to think how many hours of my life I’ve lost staring, comparing, and sharing on this app when I could have been working on real life connections both personally and professionally.
I hope that this hasn’t come across as pessimistic. In summary I believe that used in the right way Instagram can certainly have a positive influence on your ‘real life’. As well as some amazing career opportunities, I have made so many wonderful friends through Instagram, and have been inspired and motivated by countless others who I follow. This is why I will never be able to completely leave Instagram, but having a bit of time without it has taught me a lot. Thank you for reading. Grace x