I Took a 6 Month Hiatus From Instagram and It Was Awesome

I Took a 6 Month Hiatus From Instagram and It Was Awesome

Is it just me, or does anyone else need to press pause on their online presence once in awhile? I’m not sure what it is about social media that occasionally turns me off, but I recently took a much needed break for a few reasons and it. felt. awesome. Though my social accounts have a special place in my heart and are crucial to keeping Willful and Wildhearted afloat, they all share one commonality: they sorta promote a distorted reality.

While I know there is a distinct line between this blog’s social media presence and my private Facebook account postings, the boundaries tend to get blurred. I often feel as though I’m a terrible travel blogger as I prefer to keep lots of my daily on goings discreet – particularly while on the road. I’d much rather take it all and post about it later rather than looking at the world through my phone screen, but that’s not that case among most bloggers for obvious reasons. I started to resent myself for not being more out there, and even more so for not wanting to take Insta-worthy photos as much as I used to.

I’ve always tried to be honest about myself on this blog since its inception. I’ve even written about this similar topic in the past. Regardless, even I am guilty of enhancing my life online from time to time.

Before moving to Vietnam six months ago, we traveled for two months around Europe with five large-ish bags in tow. Yep. Five. The cost to send all of our items from New Zealand to Vietnam was astronomical, so we decided to bring what we could with us. Can I be honest? It sucked. It was totally inconvenient, illogical and not our style of traveling whatsoever. But it needed to be done.

 

 

Throughout our trip, I posted lovely photos of us in dreamy locations such as the Amalfi Coast, Paris, and Rome. However, I’d grown to hate myself for not posting what was really happening behind the scenes:

  • Having to buy a new suitcase in Naples because the cobbled streets broke a wheel on James’ one painstakingly humid afternoon.
  • The suffocating crowds that surrounded us on a constant basis
  • The fact that neither of us is used to moving around to different cities so quickly, therefore we were experiencing some pretty significant ‘travel burnout.’
  • Undergoing mental anguish re: the mere notion that I was experiencing said travel burnout
  • Dealing with the emotions of moving from NEW ZEALAND to VIETNAM by way of EUROPE. Seriously, though… what were we thinking?

 

In addition to feeling like a complete fraud, I found myself getting worried about when I would upload photos to Instagram. I became obsessed with determining which time frame would be best for the American audience while still fitting with the European and U.K. followers for supreme engagement on each photo. I was so stressed out by everything that I found it hard to focus on my OG bae, Willful and Wildhearted. I was plugging away on Instagram with such vigor and beginning to actually hate every second of it.

So, I stopped.

One month went by, and then another. As soon as I began to feel better about sharing in the groove… I got robbed. My phone – containing a ton of photos I carelessly hadn’t backed up yet – was taken from me on Saigon’s notorious Bui Vien. I cried a bunch, then cursed myself for having not uploaded them and then sucked it up and purchased a used iPhone 6. In that order.

Here I was, dealing with the early onsets of culture shock, and also dealing with the realization that I’d lost some irreplaceable photo memories. To say I was distraught would be an understatement.

 

To give you an idea, here are examples of images I’ll never be able to get back:

  • Selfies, along with normal photos, with my 87-year-old grandfather
  • Goofy photos I took when I visited my hometown BFFs
  • That time I was three seconds away from meeting James Taylor, one of my childhood heroes
  • The entire Europe trip; many of which contained photos with my mom and stepdad who came to visit us in England

 

I felt hopeless and totally overwhelmed, so I began to put projects on the backburner – luckily with clients who understood my situation. I was caught up in a new job, in a new city, making new friends and having new experiences. I stopped taking photos in fear of my phone getting pick pocketed, and even stopped blogging for a little bit. I began to feel consumed with wonder as to whether or not my Instagram engagement would be back up to normal speed once I re-posted, or if all of my photos would tank due to my six-month hiatus.

Regardless of this lingering dread, I’ve decided to stop allowing social media to feed into my anxiety. I no longer fear it taking complete precedence over this blog – or my personal life – and I’m regaining balance and finally adjusting to my new home. I have awesome friends, a great job and a lovely apartment that doubles as a quiet haven from this city’s total chaos. I’m feeling grateful to be here, and, most importantly, have forgiven myself for being one of those people who tried to put an Instagram filter over my entire life.

 

Have you ever needed a digital detox?

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9 Comments

  1. January 6, 2018 / 3:15 pm

    I took about a 3-month break from Instagram and it was wonderful! I was falling into the same trap of obsessing over the ‘perfect’ shot, the ‘perfect’ time to post, the ‘perfect’ hashtags and portraying my life in a positive way, when everything isn’t always positive. I had lost the joy I used to get from just taking photos that I thought were pretty because they weren’t necessarily “instagrammable” and taking that break helped me find my balance again and slow down in my day-to-day life and travels, and focus on being in the moment again. Welcome back to Instagram, I hope you can find and maintain your balance on it again 🙂

  2. R
    January 14, 2018 / 12:04 am

    I love this post! I totally agree on the things that you’ve mentioned here. I stopped being so obsessed with Instagram after realising how it took so much of my time. Unconsciously, even if I don’t feel like posting, I have this urge to open the app. In which, yes, I did and spent hours and hours mindlessly scrolling down the feed. It’s like whenever I need a break from doing something, I’d naturally go to Instagram. I decided to stop doing all of this because the more I did it, the insecure I get. From seeing all these “perfections” on Instagram. After taking some time, deactivating my account, I do feel so much better. I find that I don’t actually need Instagram at all. These days, I only post and check it occasionally! 🙂

  3. January 17, 2018 / 5:07 am

    Such a great post. I myself have not taken a break from social media, but if I ever get to a point where I feel overwhelmed, I will make sure to detox! I’m so sorry to hear your phone was stolen. I had the same thing happen to me in Hong Kong and was so sad that I had lost some of my photos that I never backed up 🙁

  4. January 17, 2018 / 9:42 am

    Sounds like you went through a really tough time! And moving from New Zealand to Vietnam via Europe with 5 bags sounds like a huge task. I definitely have had some sh*t go wrong when I travel that I choose not to write about because it was way too personal. I love sharing moments on Instagram stories but that is fun for me. When things are fun, i am learning to stop or switch it off. I just turned off messages to my Facebook page after a few from creepy guys. I feel so good about that :).

  5. January 17, 2018 / 1:36 pm

    This is very timely for me, as I’ve also been feeling this way lately. The stresses of IG and social media can be so overwhelming! I find myself wanting to say I’m proud of you. It takes courage to reconnect with reality and allow yourself to unplug. Especially with all the changes in your life lately…. new location, new job, new outlook. How great is it that you’re present in the moment and seeing things clearly again?! #nofilter 😉

  6. January 17, 2018 / 7:16 pm

    I have heard that Instagram is the social media outlet that affects peoples self-image the most. I try not to spend so much time on it I just post a couple of times a week. But yeah, I wish I didn’t need it. I don’t really post while travelling, but usually after. It is nice to have a little break.

  7. Megan Indoe
    January 17, 2018 / 10:14 pm

    Dang, it sucks you got your phone snatched from you. I would be devastated. I take time away from checking personal social media ESPECIALLY when something super controversial happened in politics. I can’t handle some people that I care deeply about actually opinions haha! But other than that we have to stay on top of it if we are going to make a career out of what we are trying to do in the online world! It’s really easy not to talk about the hardships of travel either. I was just thinking today of how we could share some of our travel woes but then I realized we don’t get very personal on our site to begin with, something we should change for 2018. I would like to share some of the stresses of travel without coming off as a whiny privileged person (something I fear if I complain about something seemingly small happening even though its uber stressful at the time while I’m on a trip some would kill to go on). But I think you do a great job of sharing the realities and keeping it real the right way- something I’d like to work on this year!

  8. January 18, 2018 / 4:21 am

    Instagram as a channel is definitely larger than life and promotes a world of make-believe. It gets frustrating after a time when you know that there is a gap with reality. Probably that is the right time to go for a detox and introspect as well as retrospect. I think your sabbatical from Social media has done a lot of good and you are feeling rejuvenated.

  9. January 18, 2018 / 5:34 am

    I took a month away from social media after I had emergency surgery in December. I was so broke-down and felt like everyone else had these epically amazing long-term travels and three months into what was supposed to be a year-long adventure, I broke my arm, had emergency surgery and was so emotionally broken that I had to come home (where I am now until early March). I got so down on myself, but then I needed to remind myself that everyone posts their “best moments” on social media. I always keep it super real on my own travel blog and in my IG stories, but not always in my feed. Then I feel guilty. It’s such a fine line, isn’t it?! I’m so glad that you’ve not let social media feed into your anxiety! It’s tough.

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