The Power of Being Raw & Authentic on Instagram
Photo by Claire Corbinson
When I was 13, I loved Harry Potter, some may even say I was obsessed. A few of my friends from school made Harry Potter fan accounts on Instagram, and I was instantly inspired to make one too. That was honestly the start of my social media journey. I’d previously made a little account to share photos with friends when I turned thirteen and had a facebook but was never frequently on them.
That account was like an escape for me.
It was a place where I could be creative, and I taught myself to edit, blend photos, download fonts, and the whole nine yards. It made my heart happy to share these images. I made friends through that account - some I still know to this day! (I actually got hot chocolate with one of them the other week.) The account gave me so much confidence in my ability to create and allowed me to have an impact on thousands of people. Fast forward two years, I had over 20k followers, etsy shops and brands reaching out to me and a ton of sweet friends I made through just having that account!
But it wasn’t all happiness. That account saw me through some of the darkest times of my life.
And it soon became evident to me that it was having a more negative than positive impact on my mental health. (Also, I just wasn’t as passionate and excited about Harry Potter as I once was). I took some time to think it over and after taking multiple deep breaths, I deleted it.
Fast forward to March 2018, I was sat at my dining room table. It was my day off of college, and I had locked myself out of my Instagram account. I reset the password and went to log back in, and it opened none other than my old-teenage-self’s-fan-account. And let me tell you, my jaw hit the freaking floor, and I gasped so loud. I was completely baffled. I went on and could see all of my old edits. Literally, everything was there. (I’ve archived the majority of it now, but if you scroll to the very bottom you can still see a little bit)! After some time thinking about if I should delete it for real this time, I felt like my heart was telling me to keep it - to try and use it positively. So I completely changed it up.
My goal in life is serving others
And if I could make one person smile from changing up my account so radically, that was okay with me. It lost a ton of followers, which was to be expected. It still has tons of ghosts, but to me when I get those dm’s every once in a while with people thanking me for being raw and authentic, it’s all so worth it.
My goal is to always be honest and truthful, and putting it all out there.. well that’s not always the easiest for me.
Sometimes I want to post something pretty- a donut I had or a picture with my friends. Sometimes I feel like I have absolutely nothing important or adequate enough to say and sometimes I just can’t. I’m also very aware that people I know in real life will read my posts and they probably know more about me than I do them; which can make me really anxious.
But I’m getting there.
Just like you, I’m human, and I can let my emotions cloud my vision but everyday I make a decision to try and be as raw and authentic as I can be. And in doing so, I’ve learned a few things about how to let my social media be a catalyst for connection.
Which is the whole point, right? So here’s a few things I keep in mind when posting…
Firstly, I don’t retouch my photos.
Yeah, I do filter them, and that’s okay! I went to college for photography and love my style - my account is art to me. I want it to tell a story and show me. But in doing that, I don’t blur out imperfections, make myself slimmer or anything like that. It just isn’t worth it!
Secondly, I write my captions as if I’m talking to a friend.
When I write, it all comes from my heart. I try to be personable and fully me. It’s also important to talk about what you are passionate about, and for me that’s anything from vegan food, to my faith, as well as mental health. If you write with your whole heart, that’ll always come across! And sometimes when I write, I add a little smiley on the end :) because I do that all the time with friends over text!
Thirdly, I try my best to not just show the highlights.
I talk about struggles, and my gosh do I get so nervous sometimes before pressing post. But then after seeing the messages, the amount of times it’s saved or sent to a friend, it makes my heart so happy. It’s all worth it.
I know it can be hard to put yourself out there for literally anyone to read your words or see your pictures. Recently, it’s really been on my heart to make sure everything I do has a purpose, even down to my social media. I want you to see my page and see the heart and joy and happiness. And if you see that and you feel something, that’s enough for me.
It doesn’t matter how many followers you have, whether it’s 20 or 5 million.
We all have that platform to radiate some sunshine and light into someone’s life.
I want to encourage you to post something raw on your account this week. It doesn’t have to be personal, have the best photo, be taken at golden hour, or have the most eloquently written caption. Because your voice, my sweet friend, is enough. And it’s so powerful. You have the ability to change the course of a person’s day, or even their life.
And if you have that opportunity, why waste it?
Shannon is 19 and has a heart for Jesus and serving others. She’s also an enneagram two, which kinda explains her love for people! She grew up and currently lives in Leeds, UK where she dreams about Jesus’ plan and purpose for her life. Her favourite colour is yellow and she can usually be heard saying ‘that’s so happy!’, or talking about joy. In the future she hopes to move to the USA and live out Jesus’ plan for her life there.
Connect with Shannon over on Instagram!