As I notice my thumb continually gravitating towards where my, now deleted, Instagram app normally lives - where it resides happily, pride of place, easily accessible when zoning out into the endless hours of scrolling - it dawned on me how reliant, or 'addicted to' for use of a better word, I am to that god. damn. app. 

For the last week or so, a cloud has hung over me - a stormy grey cloud; the kind of cloud that follows a character around in a cartoon, dripping sad raindrops upon their head whilst they wallow at the puddle filled ground. It's been trailing behind me for a while now, but I guess the combination of my will to bat it away, as well as the sunshiney weather has warded it off until late.

I've got caught up in comparison, you see, in addition to my mental health slowly deteriorating towards a more negative side. I found myself looking at people's supposedly 'perfect' lives behind my phone screen and wondering, 'why the hell is my life not like that?', 'why don't I have that?' or 'why don't I look like that?', and let's be honest, that's the beginning of a dangerous spiral.

I've touched on this topic before, but seeing as I'm in the midst of feeling a lot right now, I thought, why not touch upon it again? 

"Comparison is the thief of joy" after all. I know that. But more often than not, we can't help but find ourselves locked in a tug-of-war with the bitch.



Of course this isn't just related to Instagram, this is relative to any form of online content that we can find ourselves getting sucked into the comparative wormhole of. However, for me, it's always Instagram that I seem to be knocked down by.

Every time that little heart shaped 'like' appeared at the corner of my screen, I felt validated. Every time a comment was posted on my photo, I felt validated. Every time a new follower appeared, I felt validated. The joy had been sucked out of the creative process for me, and I was more concerned with what people thought of me and being 'liked'. Then I found myself comparing those numbers, those comments, that validation to other people and that's where I found myself falling blindly down the rabbit hole.

Why had become so concerned with what other people were doing? It wasn't like I was angered by it because I hated these people, it's quite the opposite actually, I was still there cheering them on at the sidelines. But, the fact that everyone around me seemed to continually be excelling forward in the Instagram race, whilst I stood static, seemed ignite this feeling of failure inside me.

I never feel good enough, and that's on me more than it is anyone around me (or on my phone screen for that matter). Stepping away from Instagram, even just for a day, has made me realise that I'm my own worst critic - instead of cheering myself on like I do with others, I knock myself down and tell myself I'm not good enough. I tell myself I'm a failure because I've not got 'X' amount of this or 'X' amount of that, when reality, that's not why I began all of this. I began this whole journey to share things I liked, to share images I'd taken, to meet new people.

I guess, I do worry that I'm in the wrong business here because my self-esteem is just so low. Every month I find myself in this head space that just screams 'give up!' and it can be so hard to keep fighting through it. Yet, I do think my love for creativity and sharing what I've created manages to overpower that (somehow??).

I absolutely love Instagram. I think it's a brilliant app and there's so much creativity and amazing people on there, but having noticed how much I naturally gravitate towards it to check in on how well a post is doing, or if my following has grown or dropped, I realised that it can be toxic to be on there 24/7. I need to look at it with a fresher outlook every now and again.

I mean, hey, maybe you can log into that app and feel no comparison whatsoever, if so, I truly envy you (and also, bloody good for you!), but every so often, I get in this rut and I think that's a sign I need to come back to reality for a while.



Taking a step back over these last few days, as well as some absolutely bloody lovely messages from you guys, has been a big help in shifting my mindset. We're all living our own lives after all, so why have I got so caught up trying to be like other people? I can't change who I am or how Instagram/the internet works, so I just need to roll with it.

I've been struggling with my mental health for the last month or so, so obviously that hasn't been a very good contributor to all of this, but putting myself first for once, taking myself away from a toxic situation, has felt really good. I feel refreshed, my mind feels more open and I've realised I need to look at things through a more inspired eye, than a doubtful eye again.

Sometimes space and time away is all we need to recoup and rewire.

Life won't stop just because you take time away from scrolling. All those photos, those words, those ideas will be there when you go back, so give yourself some time and listen to your emotions.