Many things have happened over the past few weeks that have brought me to write this post. Being consumed by living a "perfectly filtered" life has been on my mind for a while but, in fear of being labelled a hypocrite, I have put off sharing it. I began thinking that we are all hypocrites to some extent though, and I'm not saying that in the bad sense of the word. At some point we are all "faking it to make it", doing our best to appear certain ways to get ahead in areas of our life, and just pretending in general, in the hopes of tricking ourselves as well. I feel like as humans, it is so normal to get consumed by trends and the current hype, to the extent that we possibly begin to forget our authentic passions and interests, and substitute these for what is the "in thing" at the moment. I'm not necessarily speaking about fashion and beauty trends, but more lifestyle choices and beliefs. Putting aside hypocrisy fears and judgments in general, I am finally sharing my thoughts on this topic, and the events that have turned my attention to the incessant need for perfection.
In the last few months particularly, my obsession with trying to achieve an "aesthetically pleasing" Instagram feed has literally taken over my actual enjoyment of the app. I was constantly comparing what I was posting to what my favourite bloggers were posting, and how they were editing their photos. It got to the point where I didn't want to post any photos that were 'spur of the moment' because it wasn't going to fit with my feed. Not that I really had a theme anyway, which brings me to the next frustration: I could not for the life of me curate a pleasing theme and stick with it too. I just could not understand how other bloggers and Instagrammers do it! For quite a while this was my (annoying and unnecessary) struggle. Can you believe it!? But indeed, there I was, contemplating deleting all the pictures I had and starting again, or just leaving the app altogether. This was the exact dilemma I had never wanted to face. When I started my blog, and my Instagram, I was so oblivious to themes and aesthetic. I was just content with putting out what I loved and what made me happy to share. I don't know when this all changed. I think it may have been when I started taking blogging "seriously", which is weird because it is still the thing I love most and my absolute biggest passion. I still take it seriously! Though I suppose with a different approach - which I will get to.
Imagine feeling so despondent because of what others are sharing, that you feel like you just can't "live up to". This was certainly not an issue that was around a few years ago. But times have changed and the online world is a huge part of our reality now. I know I'm not the only one who has experienced this challenge - I have seen countless Tweets of people expressing their Instagram battles, and feeling so demotivated because of it! On one hand it makes me feel better knowing that I am not alone in my 21st Century problem, but on the other hand it saddens me to know how many people are feeling disheartened when it comes to sharing what they most love, because it won't "get them as many likes".
The first event that triggered these thoughts was a talk with my boyfriend, Pedro. We were out at dinner and I was unloading all my blogging blues and standard concerns about becoming successful - you know, the usual. He listened patiently as I listed my favourite Instagram accounts and bloggers, showed him their pages and finally asked, what are they doing that I'm not? His first words were, "it's not real". Now before you go crazy and assume I'm bashing all the social media personalities that I honestly love, just level with me for a bit. For one thing, I understand that when you get to a certain point as a blogger, or influencer, what you post makes up your business, how you earn your money, so it has to have some standard of aesthetic. On the other hand though, blogging grew out of a passion for the majority of people, and this saw everyday people, going about their daily lives, sharing the things they love with the world. It only recently became a proper career option. But what has brought me down is the authenticity that is lacking on so many accounts I see. How many people can actually afford ten designer bags, trips around the world every month, and beauty and fashion hauls every two weeks? These moments and products are then perfectly captured to match the existing aesthetic on their feeds, and makes all of us drool of course! (I'm in no way saying that owning 10 designers bags or doing hauls every week is wrong - if you are able to then that is incredible, and you should enjoy it! That's basically the dream ;)) I truly do believe that said bloggers and Instagrammers are extremely passionate about what they do, and it is this reason that they're able to produce such amazing content. I just struggle with the idea that every single moment needs to be planned out and placed in "drafts" to be posted later.
I'm sure it's clear to you now why I was worrying about being called a hypocrite. I am a blogger, I am trying to make something of myself in this field and of course, I want to present beautiful content, that people love to look at. This is my battle though: do I want to post perfectly edited pictures, that show only snippets of my life, in the most flawless way possible? or do I want to appear real to the people who choose to follow me, to show them that life online isn't all filters, flatlays and paradise? This thought kept pulling at me from every direction. Whenever I would go onto Instagram I would be challenged with the option to embrace life's rawness, or keep that side hidden and rather portray a beautifully flowing feed. Writing this down instead of merely thinking about it really makes you realise what a weird world we live in! 😛 How can an arrangement of squares on a screen stress us out so much? But then again I emphasise the reality that is online, and this domain that is seeing business after business make the move over to it. It becomes inevitable to stress, just as any other job causes stress.
Is it even more hypocritical of me to say that I would rather post the "perfectly filtered" photos here on my blog, instead of my Instagram? Even the photos in this post are perfectly posed to show off the outfit and the accessories. This is what makes me backtrack, because fashion photography isn't "real life", and if you're a fashion or beauty blogger then you are definitely going to be familiar with posing and setting up the perfect displays to capture the best product pictures. I do this all the time! But the point I'm really trying to make is that I don't want my life to be ruled by the idea that every picture I take and want to share needs to be planned out. I have my posts that I dedicate time to taking the pictures in the right light, and the right setting. And sure, I love to use these in my blog posts and also share them to my social media profiles. But I don't want to be limited to this only.
Before I completely jabber on, I need to share the second occurrence that has aided in the rise of this blog post. I opened up my journal the other night, after a long time of not writing. The page I opened on was an unfinished entry from the beginning of January sometime, where I had written in capital letters, "WHO AM I AND WHAT DO I BELIEVE IN?". It felt like it was just all supposed to happen that way. There was a reason I hadn't finished this entry - I obviously needed more than a few hours to think about this question. I don't think I've ever written so much in my journal in one entry, as I did that night! All of the social media and blogging stress finally made sense to me somehow. I realised that I can be all that I want, at the same time. I don't need to subject myself to only posting what "fits my feed", or what others are posting to theirs. I am Lauren, my own person, and people will read my blog or like my photos because they can connect with what I am saying. I love the bloggers and influencers that I follow online, and it is because something that they do sparks something within me, that causes me to follow them. It may not be that I can relate to having new beauty products every other day or trips to exotic countries a few times a year, but more that their hard work and dedication resonates with me, and they definitely do inspire me. The online space and social media platforms fill my days because of the passion I have being a blogger, there is nothing wrong with that. There is also nothing wrong with owning a hundred designer bags, or whatever it may be. I would love that! I just don't enjoy the way that it is portrayed online as being the "norm". I think this is what a lot of people can relate to. And it is because of all this that I have realised I want to appear real more than I want to appear Instagrammable.
For a long time my blog has been my happy place, and most people know that writing is what I've always wanted to do in my life. With the pressure that comes from social media though, makes it quite difficult sometimes to remember that it's a passion and not a chore. Maybe people would rather look at feeds that have continuity and more defined edits - I know how pleasing it is to the eye! - but maybe people also crave a break from that world, and wish to feel like they're not the only ones who don't live such a perfectly filtered life. I believe that I can still reach my blogging goals by fitting my own standards and not the world's. There's that saying 'if you do what you love you'll never work a day in your life', and that rings so true to me. As long as you're working for yourself, as most bloggers do, you shouldn't have to make changes to your passion according to another's standards, just to earn a pay check.