I hear a lot of people talk about how Instagram makes them more anxious, trying to live up to the people they follow. A lot of people tell me they feel envy of other peoples lifestyles online and how they portray themselves, how they have more followers or better photography skills, or how these people do things they feel like they can never achieve. Yes I agree, sometimes I look at profiles and think wow, I wish I could be like that, or live like that, or photograph like that, but instead of focusing on these points I’d like to share with you how Instagram actually helped me be a more social person and helped me deal with my social anxiety.
The tropical illusion
Whenever I started Olive’s account I was living with Will in Cambodia. We had left our normal lives behind to chase a life of secret waterfalls and tropical beaches. Believe me, although it was stunning, it often wasn’t as it seems. While there I realized how many of the humans I followed on Instagram were showing off a dream that was not real in any way. How they are able to show the pretty white sand beaches but not all the trash that was right behind that. This is something that put Instagram into perspective for me.
From phone to real camera
But hey, I started an insta for Olive anyway. It started small with a simple phone camera (Huawei, and not the good kind) and away we went. Our account didn’t blow up like I hoped and I wasn’t as good in photography as I thought. I didn’t know anything really, but I had so much fun sharing my daily endeavors with Olive. But in all honesty, our account didn’t really start growing until way later when we moved back to the Netherlands and my boyfriend Will gave me my first ever camera for Christmas. This was just 2 christmasses ago actually!
Our first Insta friends
Both starting the Instagram and getting the camera helped me firstly to get out of my house more. I was terrified of meeting new people and being outside and looking like a weirdo, but this gave me the perfect excuse and the perfect way to hide myself – behind my camera. It helped me be more comfortable laying on the floor for that perfect picture (do it for the gram) and not give a damn about what anyone around me thinks. A couple of weeks back I even dressed Olive up in my scarf and hat and did a full on photoshoot while people were walking around me – a new achievement!
Act the fool – it’s okay!
Apart from anxiety getting out of the house and being super scared to look like a fool, I was also absolutely terrified of failing. So scared, that I didn’t want to do anything unless I was really good at it already. This meant whenever I started something, and it got a bit hard, I would just stop because I was so scared of looking incompetent. What Instagram has given me is a community of dog-loving people who quite frankly don’t give a damn about that one picture that looks slightly less good than the rest. Who are supportive because they love to follow you and while this may sound like I hang too much on others opinions, it’s mainly that I really needed that little push in the back that I CAN do something, and it is okay to try new things, and you only fail if you don’t try something at all.
As long as you keep going, and keep trying, and keep getting up when you fall, eventually you will get it right and you will learn. Experts are born through practice, practice and more practice and that’s something I knew but did not follow in the past.
Gaining a new family
The third and most important thing I’ve gained from the Instagram community and helped my anxiety the most is, well, the community itself. Where I secretly expected to find a bunch of “stranger danger” weirdo people taking pictures of their dogs, I found a community of dog lovers, hiking enthousiast, outdoorsy people, kind hearted and amazing achievers, and I am still amazed by how amazing you all are. The people I’ve met through Instagram have been so supportive and kind, great friends, that are always up to meet up and go hike when we are near. This social community honestly has been such an awesome community to fall in to, and I’m truly grateful for that!