Several years ago, I started blogging by writing a health and beauty column for my digital school magazine. I was so excited! It was my first foray into the world of blogging. Having tried (and failed) multiple times to get published in my high school journal (yes, it sounds preposterous to me now), I was happy to have my own voice. Nobody was criticizing my topics of interest or sentence structure. After all, this is not a writing seminar; it’s my free time. And if that means starting a sentence with “and”, so be it!
Soon, I realized that while I am very passionate about fitness and health, there wasn’t that much advice I could give as someone with no medical or exercise background. Sure, my anecdotes were entertaining, but I didn’t want to be limited to a subject matter where I felt my expertise was limited. I had a different issue with writing about beauty. I have very sensitive skin, which has significantly shaped my beauty routine. I rarely wear anything besides sunblock and moisturizer when I leave the house. I don’t purchase many mainstream beauty products because they irritate my skin. Obviously, I couldn’t offer much advice on the best lip balm to wear on Saturday night when I had tried very few.
With a desire to branch out of my assigned categories, and a burgeoning interest in healthy food, I launched my own blog. I didn’t know what I was doing besides writing, and that was ok because that was what I was most passionate about.
And then Instagram came on the scene and everything changed.
I just had to make an Instagram account to post the photos I hadn’t yet started taking. So, I started posting photos. I have to admit in hindsight that they were pretty bad. Many of them were blurry and dark, but I was doing it! I was a blogger with an Instagram and social media strategy (somewhat). I had plans to become an influencer in the allergy-friendly food space. People were contacting me, I was getting lots of follows, and I felt great.
At this same time, I started spending more and more time on Instagram. I wanted more followers, so I was always searching for people with similar interests to my own. I was regularly interacting with people and brands and started to feel that I was building a community.
And then Instagram changed its algorithm and everything changed again.
My growth, views, and impressions took a nose dive. And they kept going down. Off a never ending cliff. For a long time, I tried to fight against it. I studied my metrics to post at optimal times, experimented with different content, and continued to make connections. At the same time, I was working full time, still posting on my blog, training for half marathons, and applying to graduate school.
Something had to give. For as long I could, I tried to hold on. But I also wanted to sleep and eat and relax. What made me realize that I wasn’t truly about this influencer life was that I stopped wanting to spend time on Instagram. When I wasn’t at work, I was meal prepping, practicing yoga, or running. If I had a free hour, I didn’t want to spend it on my phone.
I’ve reached a point now where my follower count is actually decreasing. And it doesn’t matter. My Instagram has turned into a gallery for me. I’m no longer chasing numbers that don’t involve PRs (I may be injured but running is life). When I have stressful periods at work or now at school, I can freely avoid Instagram for a few weeks without feeling like I’m letting someone down.
A phrase that I often hear from people is “find your passion”. Yet, I don’t think I’ve ever found my passions. I just kind of fell into them. One day I started running and I didn’t look back. One day I started writing and I didn’t stop. Another day, I snapped a picture of my breakfast and here I am four years later. I have a natural propensity to invest time in things that are interesting to me. Reluctance to do something (at least in me) is a sign that I’m not passionate about it. And I’m not passionate enough about Instagram to devote hours and hours to it on a weekly basis. So my account just exists, on my terms. And I think I’m finally coming to terms with that.