You’re about to go to a party.
You did your hair, makeup and chose the perfect outfit. You take a few flash selfies in your room then go downstairs to take group photos with your roommates before going out. You mentally prepared at least three poses to do. You tell the person taking pictures exactly where to stand and tell them, “Put on the flash!” Your friend takes a few. You scroll through them, don’t like them and then it’s on to round two. You take about a hundred photos before your roommates want to strangle you, and finally, you go out.
At the party you say to your friends, “We need some live shots! The ones at the house are too boring.” You stand in the middle of the party and make everyone take more pictures—with flash, of course. The party is dark, but you are in the center with your friends taking flash photos. Then you want some solo pictures of you having a BLAST. You can not even focus on having fun at the party because you are still annoyed that your pictures aren’t “Instagram worthy.”
You think about this for the entire next day, chalking the night up to an L because you have no good pictures to post. Definitely not any that fit your theme. You try to edit some that are okay in your mind, using multiple filters and Facetune to hopefully make it a semi-quality photo.
You’re about to go to a party.
You finish your hair and makeup and take a snapchat to show your ‘night-out’ look. You need everyone to know that you’re going out and having fun in college. You snapchat funny moments at the pregame, have people repeat funny things they said just so you have it on video. You go to the party and make sure to get videos of your friends dancing, you in the DJ booth and of course, you eating pizza at 2 a.m.
The next day you take a snapchat walking to your 8 a.m., coffee in hand. You continue to take Snapchats and Instagram stories of almost everything you do throughout the day. Only the exciting things though.
Does this sound like you? If it does, we need to talk.
Doesn’t sound like you? Then let me explain why the people that do this post the way they do.
You may be asking yourself, what do you, the girl typing this article, even know about this topic anyways? Well, I was once that girl.
I was almost at this level in high school, but when I got to college, it got worse. When you are a freshman in college, you have such high hopes of living a fabulous college life. Going out all the time, making fabulous friends and, of course, getting great Instagram content. As soon as you hit that freshman benchmark, your Instagram is on a whole different playing field. Your Instagram is competing with not only your high school friends but the thousands of people you go to school with, many of which have thousands of more followers than you.
You get sucked into the mentality that you absolutely need to be on college Instagram pages. You need to be that girl. If not, what’s the point of being a freshman anyway? You scroll through your feed every hour seeing the most beautiful girls having the time of their lives at college. It makes you believe that you need to prove to everyone that follows you, that you too, the girl going to a Big 10 school, are having an amazing time. I was desperately deep in this mentality.
Flash forward to my sophomore year summer internship.
I was living in New York City, interning at a world-renowned bridal store. The pressure to make good content was now more crucial than ever. I opened a Pinterest board called “poses” just for this experience. I knew the pictures I wanted to take while being in the city. I needed to showcase this amazing experience for how amazing it was.
But, the truth was, living in New York City over the summer wasn’t as glamorous as I thought it would be. I would walk to work drenched in sweat. I worked so hard throughout the day, that when I got back to my apartment I was absolutely drained. I would think to myself that on my off days I could get competitive content. I wanted to go to museums to get stellar pictures, go to central park to get content. I wanted to get sparkling pictures at my job and pictures casually walking the streets. I would see other people I knew in New York City post flawless pictures, getting all the likes and I felt envious. I would try to take pictures on my own but was never satisfied.
That’s when I realized, something’s not right here.
Photographs are supposed to capture pure moments. They should capture genuinely happy times and even sad times. Photographs should be real and authentic. I was revolving my life around photographs and an online presence. I should have focused on my life, and just took pictures along the way.
This realization might seem obvious to some of you reading this. However, when you feel so stuck in the world of Instagram and Snapchat, that’s all that seems important.
Now, I am proud to say that I am not that girl.
I am not saying that you cannot take pictures. I am not saying that you shouldn’t have an Instagram. What I am saying, is you need to enjoy the present. Pictures can look amazing. They can tell a story and capture beautiful moments. But if you can scroll through your Instagram profile and point out multiple photographs that appear forced, that you edited so much because you hated the original, or that you were faking what looks like an amazing time, please take my words into consideration.
Focus on genuine moments first, Instagram second.