When I first joined Instagram as a healthy food blogger years ago, things were much simpler. There were no sponsored posts, no business accounts, no suggested posts, and no algorithms that continue to show you the same post at the top of your feed despite that you’ve clicked into the app 5 times already that day. Getting real followers (not those random accounts with no pictures and jumbles of letters for usernames) was easy. Talking to actual existent human beings about food and fitness was easy. Finding allergy-friendly products was simple. When I grew up, the only way to avoid nuts in snacks was not to eat many snacks, so I appreciated the recommendations and options that came my way. I was enamored by the discovery.

Then, things changed. Not immediately, but gradually. I couldn’t find my group of people anymore. Either I was unable to reach them, or they had moved on. Admittedly, the market is quite saturated now. Despite my stagnating growth and diminishing reach, I still found some amazing products, just with less frequency than before. And I was asked again and again if I wanted to take the easy way out and buy followers, likes, comments, a combination of the two, or all three. I had to make a decision. I could buy my way to becoming an influencer like some of my fellow followers did so that I could get the attention of brands and maybe make a few cents if my followers purchased any products. Or I could work extremely hard and put in the hours and money to build up a real following. Or I could accept Instagram for what it has become, even though I like it less than I did when I first discovered the platform.

You could say that I have accepted my fate, but I’m not settling. It took me months to realize that I wasn’t willing to invest the money and time needed into Instagram to gain the followers that I thought I wanted. This is for several reasons. Up until two weeks ago, I had a day job. And I won’t say that I had a 9 to 5 because I had more of a 9 to when the work is done. After a full day’s work, spending an hour at the gym, and volunteering for 1 to 2 hours, I was ready to sleep. Not schedule a photoshoot. Not make my food look pretty so I could take pictures. Not engage with people so they would continue to follow me. You get the drift. My side-hustle is really a side-hustle. And since I can’t afford to currently live off of my musings alone, it’s probably going to stay a side-hustle. Plus, I was and still am really passionate about the industry I worked in, so let’s not forget that.

Secondly, I realized that the way my current budget is set up, I was not about to pay somebody to make all of my social media outlets look fancy.

Thirdly, I realized that in my free time, I wanted to be free! I had to take months to reflect and ask myself what I was really passionate about. I love writing and I always have. I love working out, but I haven’t always. I love eating good food and maybe snapping a pic or two for the gram. But did I love spending hours on Instagram tending to my account as it if were a garden? Nope. Did I love stressing about reach, engagement, and optimal post times? Nope. Did I love the constant comparing myself to others that I fell into when other people got the partnerships that I wanted? Nope.

So, here I am, months later. Much calmer and much more centered. I’m spending more time writing than anything else and I absolutely love it. I’m no longer concerned about the superficial aspects of Instagram. After all, it has become one long commercial reel. I don’t know what anyone actually likes or actually uses anymore because the last time I checked, you can’t use three different daily face washes if you only wash your face once daily. If that’s actually humanly possible, let me know! I’d love to figure out how to do something once a day yet three times.

This isn’t to say that I’m signing off of Instagram any time soon. Trust me, I’ve thought about it. Even though I can swim fairly well, I started to drown on Instagram. Now that I’m back on the shore, I’ve found what’s important to me. To create. To write. To reflect. To photograph. With honesty. And last, but most certainly not least: to discover.

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