I had enough.
My mental health has been a bit all over the place this year. Unsurprising really seeing as 2021 has felt like sequel of an already terrible film and I thought it was a good time to undertake all my major life changes all at once. In addition to that, the unspoken identity crisis, existential crisis, the loss of a family member… It all got too much.
Therapy recommended taking a step back, starting from scratch and designing the life that I want. The latter is very important, because I easily get swept up in pleasing everyone in my path.
Social media and online life was one that I highlighted as a double-edged sword. I loved the moments of genuine connection I have had over the years, but as I’ve grown on socials, I’ve also fallen into the trap of trying to “do what everyone else is doing” even when it didn’t make sense for me. Oh, and of course, trying to please everyone — in ways of saying yes to favours that I actually don’t want to say yes to and replying to everyone as soon as possible.
It all became a delicate performance. Some days, I wasn’t in the mood to perform but I had to otherwise I was kicked out of my own Broadway show. This, of course was all self-inflicted. Nobody was telling me to do this at all.
I could take each social media platform and write about how each have affected me negatively — high volume requests, pressure to perform / post, etc. But I wanted to burn a lens specifically on one.
In comparison to other social media outlets, Instagram is one that I find personally influences and affects me more mentally.
I’m not sure if it’s the clearly obvious photoshopped images, the filters, “keeping up with the Joneses”, the “oh this is ALL NATURAL, you can achieve this too NATURALLY.” when in reality BTS: countless surgery. If you spend any amount of social media, I don’t need to explain this any more.
Reality becomes distant every single day.
In this instance, I wanted to speak specifically about health and fitness influencers.
As someone who used to deal with body image issues growing up, you can imagine how it does become way too much to handle sometimes. I shared, (albeit ironic on Instagram after my month-long break) about how strong our shame is when we gain weight or deviate from the images shown to us on the internet.
My emotional sensitivity skyrocketed this year and so may be a huge contributor to the return of my body image issues that plagued me in my teenage years. Luckily, I’ve got more of a switched on head these days so before I launched myself to fad diets or did anything stupid like god forbid, skinny teas… I just took a step back from Instagram, like my therapist recommended.
A month off Instagram doesn’t seem like too much, but for someone who has been posting religiously since 2016; it’s a big deal. This shouldn’t be surprising, but it was to me: I felt so much better not checking my body against influencers all the time. I took less photos and when I worked out, I focused solely on function. Funnily enough, I’m my strongest I’ve ever been as well! I was not influenced to cut my calories in half just to look like an influencer.
I’m currently writing this whilst sitting on a beach in the Canary Island which has been a relaxing, recharging time so far. As I look around the beach, I’m reminded of what normal bodies look like. They’re beautiful, strong and nothing like you see on Instagram. What a nice reality check, to be honest.
Plus, being off Instagram for a month had some other benefits: I reduced my load on keeping up with all 500+ I followed and pleasing them in interactions.
It was like I had put my costumes for my Broadway Show away momentarily and just enjoyed looking at an empty auditorium for once. This is enough, for now.
Being and having enough. Imagine how fucking nice that is?
I’m still practicing this – not just with body image but every aspect of my life where “wanting more” and not being content with enough is a common theme. Enough is my new mantra in a world obsessed with being the very best.
You are enough. You don’t need to fit into an unrealistic social media mould. It’s actually nice that you don’t, to be honest. Where you are right now is enough. It’s just enough.