Lessons Learned from my Instagram Fast

how-to-run-an-instagram-event-to-boost-your-cafe-engagement.jpgI remember first setting up my Instagram account senior year of high school. It was a young app with little hype and relatively few users. Since then, it has grown into a massive online platform where people share their photography, their lives, and even run entire businesses. My love of Instagram has grown along with its popularity, and I soon found myself posting at least one photo a day and checking it every chance I got. Without realizing, I began wasting hours a day on Instagram– editing photos, writing captions, trolling other accounts. It was the first thing I looked at in the morning and the last thing I checked at night.

Then at my internship this year, we began planning a week long campaign called “Look Up” which explores the impact of technology on our social, spiritual and emotional lives. The week is full of events aimed at igniting a discussion we can all benefit from. On one of the days, I was asked to speak on a panel about technology’s impact on our relationships with family and friends in particular. Part of the requirement for panel members was to take on a technology challenge for the week prior to the event, and discuss the changes you observed. I immediately knew I needed to give up Instagram.

This sudden conviction was the first indicator that I had a real problem. And as hard as I knew abstaining from the app would be, I was determined to meet the challenge. So with shaking hands, I deleted the app from my phone, and felt immediately relieved– right?

WRONG! I felt horrible. For the first day or two, I would instinctively reach for Instagram every few minutes like some sort of sick junkie going through tech withdrawals. I worried about everything I was missing in other’s lives, and was eaten up by curiosity. I seriously considered breaking my fast multiple times, but was always stopped by sheer determination to prove myself wrong.

But slowly by day three or four, I began to feel better. I found my craving for the app had diminished, and almost vanished all together by the end of the week. I stopped taking pictures of the things in my life and started genuinely appreciating them. I no longer removed myself from the moment by trying and capture it, but rather fully lived in the moment. I noticed myself being bored– an emotion I hadn’t felt in a long time. In the past, whenever I would feel boredom creeping in, I would quickly fill the space with Instagram. I had forgotten how wonderful it can be to simply let your mind wander off on tangents and day dreams, to stare mindlessly at the ceiling or reflect on your day. As a writer, it is crucial that I leave space for boredom, because that’s where some of my best ideas originate!

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I observed a decrease in my nasty habit of comparing myself to others. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I definitely saw an increase in my joy this week. I used to see a beautiful girl in an Instagram photo and think her beauty somehow detracted from my own. As insane as it sounds, I regularly tricked myself into thinking someone else’s beauty or success made me a little bit less beautiful or less successful. When I removed the source of that comparison from my life, I was no longer able to get trapped in those negative thought patterns. Of course I still struggle with comparison now and again, as most of us do, but I can honestly say using Instagram less has significantly helped.

Today is the first day of Lent. If you are like me and don’t have the guts to give up something like chocolate or coffee, consider giving up one aspect of technology. Maybe delete Snapchat or Facebook, or commit to only checking emails once a day. Whatever it is, I can promise you will see a difference in your daily life over time. And it doesn’t have to be forever. So go on, challenge yourself to some sort of fast for the next few days, weeks or months! Though I’m not yet sure when I will return to Instagram, I am sure I will return a more confident, creative and joyful person, someone actually worth following.

P.s. Photo via here

My 9 Favorite Instagram Posts from 2015

InstaCollage.jpgMy two favorite social media platforms are this blog and Instagram. I love capturing a quick snap shot of life on Instagram, and then going into more detail on this blog. Above are nine of my favorite Instagram posts from my account in 2015, and below are the reasons why!

1. Pumpkin Patch with my friends Michaela and Jenna. I had so much fun picking out a pumpkin this past October, and the pictures turned out so vibrant and fun!
2. Daria and Julius sitting in the front yard, looking like old folks. These two little kids I watched in Germany over the summer cracked me up all day every day. I will cherish every photo I have of them!
3. Seattle’s waterfront. This photo captures my little brother and I’s trip to Seattle this past August. I fell in love with the city, and could totally see myself there one day.
4. The first picture I took in Hildesheim, Germany. I went on a long walk through town the first day I arrived, and was in awe of the greenery! I had never seen so many trees and flowers in one place.
5. The Pope in his pope-mobile. I snapped this from the crowd of the Vatican. My friends and I were in Rome one weekend in March, and happened to over hear that the Pope was making an appearance.
6. Top of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland. I fell head over heels in love with this city, and the hike to the top of this mountain with panoramic views was a religious experience.
7. Lara, my sweet German friend. She was the little sister I never had, and we spent so much time together this summer! I miss her.
8. Little cousins on Thanksgiving day. My four little girl cousins dressed up as pilgrims and posed for an adoring crowd of relatives in Nashville this Thanksgiving. My heart melted.
9. My tattoo. I am so happy I decided to get my tattoo in 2015, as the word Gentle came to take on a new meaning during this season of life.

P.s. You can follow me on Instagram at msmicahlynne or by clicking the Instagram icon in the sidebar on the right!