• Sheryl

Curating my Instagram feed : Self-confidence vs self-perception

Thoughts behind the squares.


I woke up one Saturday in a frenzy.


Outfits had been laid out, a photoshoot planned. But damn, how did I miss the alarm?? (OK, fine, I slept a little past bedtime watching movies). I got ready in record time. Then set up my camera for some photos before the heat turned into an unbearable one that would reduce the mess I already was into mush.


3. 2. 1.

*A very painfully frigid smile *

Fine. Let’s try again. Ok - Imma look soooo cool now.


3.2.1.

Oh god. I looked like I had no idea what was going on (which was usually the case).


3.2.1.

Wait… was that the neighbour waiting in the car outside the gate?? Erm erm SMILE !!!

Great. I looked in shock. So not the glamorous happy picture of me that I had in mind.


Instagram - it is at once empowering, and deflating.


My travel posts have taken a step back because I found myself being nostalgic, forever wishing that I could go back to those “normal” days. Blogging about style was an escape - it was so fun! Especially when outfit inspirations hit me. It was safe as I experimented with pieces in my wardrobe behind closed doors. And the best part? I felt free- like I was finally casting off the heavy weight of societal expectations and fully being myself. I love blogging, but Instagram gave me something that I occasionally craved for : instant communication with you guys!


When I first started this ‘style’ section, I thought that the biggest challenge would be styling outfits. No. Unexpectedly, it was being myself in a vast network of confident people with beautiful feeds.


You should NEVER compare yourself against others.

There is a world OUTSIDE of Instagram.

Those squares don’t define your life and values.

It is normal to feel like this - many Instagrammers face similar insecurities

but you have to keep going.


I've been reading so many encouraging posts on Instagram. Oddly enough, I felt bad for feeling so down and frustrated. So, all I've got to do, is work harder, no?



Let's try again.

SMILE!

*manages extremely awkward smile*


Ok, let’s try a cool one.

*glares* Ummm….


Yo girl, there is no one around you except a piece of technology. Plus, I’ve never had a smiling problem. In fact, I was so smiley that I felt like some tutors never took me seriously. I laughed away my stress, my frustrations, my problems. It usually went like this :


Tutor : “You’re nuts, aren’t you?”

Me : “Yep! I LOVVVVEEE NUTS! HOHOHO!”

Trust me, I was already neck-deep in panicked hysteria.


Why then, is it so hard to smile for a piece of technology???


I felt deflated- the excitement and fun that had accompanied the morning was seeping away.


Over the weekend, I realised (feeling rather aghast), that I had a fixed perception of myself. I tried not to compare myself against others, or comparing these outfit photos against my travel and food photography, but ultimately, Instagram is a visual platform. Art school has made me a visual person. I love photography, and I wanted to produce the best photos I could. But I’d barely started with this page and yet I already felt like I was losing myself. Because what I took for confidence, I had already traded for trying to fit in. Learning turned into copying - a desperate act to 'show up', and beat the algorithm.


Why was I trying to look cool when I like smiley photos that make ME smile?

Why was I trying to smile in the weirdest way possible in a pose that challenged my spine?

Really, if this page was about self-empowerment and finding your personal style, then what was the point of creating it if I was trying to be someone else?


Thing is, I like being my goofy self. I like making fun of myself, and using the weirdest analogies. And I like sharing that with you guys because in my experience, it usually brings a major eye roll and maybbbeeee a hint of a smile? (Wishful thinking, I know). Instagram - it’s there to capture those moments. Even though ironically, it is so hard balancing between having a nice aesthetic, trying to look good in outfits and still being yourself. Like how do you scream "Let's be fweennnnsss!" in a square???


Will I ever find the answer to that? I don't know.


But life is about growth and as they say, change is uncomfortable. Stop trying to fit into something that you’ve outgrown… like Cinderella’s shoe. But her step-sisters couldn’t fit into those in the first place…??? Oh forget that analogy.


Before this, anonymity was the key that kept me writing my deepest thoughts. Food and travel photography was fun and so far, none of the food or buildings that I’ve photographed have yelled at me for taking a gazillion photos of them. But now, the mission of this blog went beyond just a frustration outlet, to a platform of reaching out to a like-minded community, to friends, to encouraging and empowering each other to pursue your dreams. That was when I wanted to use myself as a canvas, like a friendly hello kinda thing.


But somewhere along the way, I lost sight of what was most important to me. It is terrifying - within a month, I had almost forgotten that I express myself best with words. NOT, for the life of me, by being an Instagram model. And until I learn that what I create should come from the heart, not yet another hurriedly produced picture in attempt to keep up with the crazy pace of posting, I need to step away from Instagram, for now. It is a toxic relationship between Instagram and I. Until I fix that, I'll be here, focusing on how I can improve my skills, how I can best reach out to people.


Oh, I'm not quitting. I'm just finally understanding the quote :

"Learn to take a break, not quit".


I’m still scared of being judged, but I’m constantly reminding myself that I can’t control other people’s opinions, only my attitude, and my efforts. So, take a deep breath and remember who you are. Because like Audrey Hepburn said, ‘You are not a one in a million kind of girl, you are a ONCE IN A LIFETIME kind of girl.’


You do you, girl.


For some weekly motivation, here are some of my favourite quotes that have kept me inspired :

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

- C.S. Lewis



“A girl should be two things : who & what she wants.”

- Coco Chanel



“Be you. Do you. For you.”


And lastly…


Hey you, don’t give up, okay?



- Sheryl :)

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