My decision to delete my personal Instagram wasn’t repulsive but I didn’t know it was something I wanted to do the night before. The morning of the deletion, I talked to Onno about it. Well, Onno in my dreams. It was a very realistic dream and we had a full conversation why I wanted to delete it but then when I messaged him hours later that I deleted my Instagram, he was very surprised. What is the importance of this piece of information? Absolutely nothing. I can try to spin some story how my subconscious mind knew it was the right choice to make but my decision to delete my Instagram isn’t that deep.
I started my Instagram account in 2015 to keep myself accountable with my fitness. I just started BBG (Bikini Body Guide by Kayla Itsines) and wanted to connect with other girls who were doing the workouts. I was apart of a very small community where what you posted and the quality of the pictures wouldn’t matter. I felt no pressure to be perfect. I would post pre- and post- workout selfies in bad lighting; pretty bad angles and I just wouldn’t care. I would post pictures of my food even if it was nothing fancy. There was just no pressure. I didn’t care how many followers I had or how much my account grew. It was just a way to stay accountable. This changed quite quickly. At a certain point, I felt like I had to post quality content. I had to play this role of a perfect Instagram girl that lived a luxurious or cool life. There was this pressure to constantly be the person that is portrayed in these perfect Instagram worthy pictures. I couldn’t even explore a new city or go relax at a park without feeling the need to do a little mini photo shoot. And then when I didn’t achieve the standard of the perfect Instagram girl, the pictures came out shitty or the lighting was off, it would ruin my entire day. I also followed so many girls that had this perfect lifestyle and I would tear myself apart when I couldn’t live up to them.
When I started my blog, it was all about the numbers. The appearance of the perfect Instagram pictures and everything just needed to be…you guessed it perfect. When I couldn’t be perfect, then my dreams would never come true. Writing this now, I realize that it doesn’t really make sense. My worth never has and never will be attached to how many strangers follow me on the internet. I’m not going to be a failure or waste of air just because I don’t have a thousand likes on every picture I post. But when I didn’t get in so many likes or clicks on my links, it felt like I was failing. I also had to constantly post pictures of my body. When I was still active, I had to record all activities but when I stopped being active, I needed to fill up my feed with body positive pictures. I couldn’t just be myself because that wouldn’t be good enough for Instagram. I couldn’t just take a picture of my cup of tea in the middle of the night and caption it; tea time. No. I needed to have a super meaningful essay of a caption and it had to make a difference in the world and the photo had to be perfect as if a professional photographer took and edited it. Things got really bad. I would spend hours scrolling on those pretty perfect girls feed and wish I could be like them.
I asked myself one morning, why do I have this app? Does it spark joy? Does the good balance out the bad? Is it toxic for my mental health?
When I was sixteen or seventeen, I had this scrapbook. It was filled with cut-outs from magazines of these perfect and fit girls. I was so ashamed to have this book but at the same time, I felt disgusted that I couldn’t look like them. The truly sad thing is that even though I cut up tons of magazines, filled 100 of pages of pictures of other girls’ bodies, I never found a body like mine. I realized that Instagram has become my new notebook. It was a reflection of a life that I wanted to live, a body that I wanted but it wasn’t me. The good never came even close to balance out the bad. The toxicity of the platform poisoned my self-worth. Once I realized all of this, it was easy to delete my account.
I asked myself; if you could cut toxic people out of your life, why couldn’t you delete this one app? It’s doing you so much harm. Why are you so attached to this account? I couldn’t answer these questions. I have no idea why I’m so attached to this app. Why I couldn’t just be myself and fight against the obsession to be perfect. Being raw and vulnerable comes so naturally to me when it comes to my blog. I’m completely myself and it’s easy. I don’t have this pressure to be perfect heck I don’t even heavily edit my blogs. I’m completely accepting of myself on here and I don’t understand why the same can’t be said for Instagram.
On my birthday this year, I felt like I needed to take a perfect picture but to be completely honest, I could barely smile on my birthday. Not even for a picture. I was at such a low point that I didn’t have the energy to fake it for the perfect picture but this made me feel worthless. I told myself well you can just take any picture and write this inspiring caption how ugly you feel and you realize that these emotions and thoughts are only temporarily and etc. A few days before my birthday I got a phone call that made my heart drop into my stomach. My father is in the hospital. Just a few days prior my father had a big health scare. His heart is weak. His blood pressure is high. His cholesterol is high. His liver is damaged. His sugar is high and he now has diabetes. So, when my brother called out of the blue…I don’t have words to describe that horrible feeling I got in the pit of my stomach. That night I cried myself to sleep. My father was discharged on my birthday but that pressure I felt after I got my brother’s phone call has only loosened its reins a little, two weeks later. I’m still terrified I will get a phone call one day and I won’t make it in time. I don’t think that fear will ever really go away. My father’s health scare also made me realize how little prepared we are for an emergency trip to South Africa. We had no extra money on the side to afford a last-minute trip. I couldn’t even hire a car because 1) I don’t have a credit card on my name and 2) my South African driver’s license is about to expire.
For the first time in nearly a decade, my father didn’t call me bright and early in the morning and sang happy birthday to me and I felt that loss. I just didn’t feel happy or light-hearted on my birthday but yet I felt like a failure because I couldn’t announce my birthday or act like everything was perfect on social media. It’s stupid. The last thing I need on my plate right now is a platform I feel pressure to be perfect. Oh, you’re not super fit anymore, okay now you need to post your tummy rolls and be the bigger girl you wanted to see in magazines back then. Oh, you’re having a bad day, talk about your thoughts and feelings. Talk about your depression. The list goes on and on but I guess what I’m trying to say is, that it became painstakingly clear to me that Instagram was doing more harm than good so yeah, I decided to delete my account and concentrate on things that make me happy. When I decided that I was going to give it my all when it comes to my mental health, I fucking meant it. Anything toxic that I can remove, I WILL remove.
Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!
PS. I only deleted my personal Instagram (will officially deactivate my account at the end of February. I just want to make sure everyone who cares, sees that I left.) but my two fur babies accounts are still live and active. I never for one second felt any pressure to post perfect pictures of my animals. They’re already perfect. I also don’t scroll or browse anything on their accounts so the toxicity that seemed to drown me on my personal account never reach me there. I literally only go online to post a picture and then I leave. If this ever changes and I find myself clicking on those perfect Instagram models accounts and wish I could be them, I will delete those accounts. I just wanted to make that clear while we’re on the subject.
PSS. I still have the fitcouchpotato Facebook and Twitter accounts. These accounts don’t cause me any harm mentally because I’m not on it long enough to do so. I mainly just post links of recent blogs when they go live but I might post an occasional picture or random thought here and there. You can follow me on those socials if you want to but honestly, the only social media platform I need and want is my blog. It’s my therapy.
PSS. What do you think of my new little hearts at the end?