July 2, 2020

Confessions of an IG Influencer

***Please keep in mind while reading that these opinions are my OWN and I do not place any convictions that I may have on any other "influencer" or person! I am merely writing out my own thoughts with no intention of targeting anyone at all.

Last month I deleted the Instagram app off of my phone. I'd taken short breaks in the past before (maybe a week at the most), but this was going to be different. Instagram had slowly evolved into something much bigger than I ever imagined when I downloaded it onto my phone almost ten years ago. What started out as a fun way to share what myself and the family were up to, slowly changed into a full-time business that began to monopolize my life. It can be hard to know when it's time to call something "quits" - especially because as an Instagram "influencer" (I know, everyone hates that term but I don't know what else to call it) there are plenty of excuses to be made for why exactly you need to be on your phone so much: posting daily, engaging faithfully, building relationships, answering emails, answering DMs, responding to collab inquiries, editing photos, documenting the day, scrolling... those are just a few things of what all is entailed in being an "influencer" on Instagram. I got to a place where not only was I feeling overwhelmed on behalf of my family (running a household successfully, homeschooling, caring for an infant, etc.), but I was feeling the weight of this "job" affecting my health as well. My anxiety and stress were at all-time highs, and I was seeing the physical affects of it. The simplest of questions would overwhelm me, and the most mundane of tasks seemed to give me anxiety.
I knew it was time to do something about it, so I planned to wrap up collabs as best I could over the last two weeks in May, and then take the month of June off. I didn't look at Instagram once! It remained completely off my phone the entire time and I found it so interesting what exactly I went through as I detoxed from it.
The first couple of days I'm not going to lie - I kept going back and forth between panic ("What have I done??? Did I just ruin everything I've built over the last few years???") to waves of relief. After those first few days though, I had no regrets whatsoever of deleting it, and over that first week I could feel myself coming out of a very thick fog. I could think more clearly now that I wasn't operating in both a virtual world and a "real" world. The days even felt longer and like I could get so much more done because I didn't have to invest hours into my "business" every day.
The second week I still had to get out of the Instagram "mindset." I still felt the need to document everything - it was actually pretty alarming what a knee-jerk response Instagram had become. I'm not sure how many times my finger hovered over the vacant spot on my phone apps where IG usually was...but I'm sure it would be an embarrassing amount! The fact that having my life constantly documented was so engrained into me was very concerning to me, and it further verified that I needed at least a month in order to start to step back fully and reevaluate what boundaries needed to be made and where exactly IG as both an app and a business needed to be in my life.
By the third week, I was really starting to be present and live in the moment with my girls, and that caused me to be overcome with the realization of just how petty the concerns of an Instagram influencer are (at least for myself!). Numbers, growth, engagement... what does it all really matter in the grand scheme of things? Someone might have 100,000 followers but in real life you won't find 100,000 people trailing after them, watching their every move. No, Instagram is NOT real life. No amount of zeroes trailing after your follower count is ever going to make you any more of a person than the mom next door. No amount of "things" arriving to your doorstep is going to make your home any more of a sanctuary to your family than another family's home is to them. You are not a better mom because of Instagram, and if I am being honest, I believe I discovered this last month that Instagram (at least the way I was using it) made me a worse mom than the mom I am without it.
I know that it's easy to get wrapped up in the highlight reel that friends and family share on IG, but once you start following IG influencers, I think that we become bombarded with things and filters and perfect homes and pretty pictures and all of that gives the impression that IG influencer life is prettttty glamorous. But there are a handful of ugly truths about my own experience as an IG mom that I had to confront during my hiatus, and I am going to share them here. Again, these are my OWN reflections and NOT targeted at anyone!
First of all, one of the worst parts to me about Instagram turning into a business was the way that I felt at the end of most days. Most days if I'm being honest I would send the girls to bed and spend the evening regretting the hours I spent half-listening or only partially present. The dozens of times I would say "hold on a minute" would come back to echo in my mind, and the countless unfulfilled promises I'd make to my girls would resurface then too. See, the thing is, one of the most popular reasons that can often be listed as a perk to being an influencer is that you get to work from home. Well, over the last few years I've come to the realization that I actually believe quite the opposite. I think that "working from home" is one of the worst parts about this gig. It might sound like rainbows and butterflies to be able to stay at home with your kids in your home and work, but to me, what it actually meant was that my kids were watching me on my phone for HOURS every day. Like I said before, the evolution from a personal IG to a business IG comes on pretty slowly for the most part, so it's hard to recognize when it starts to consume you. But it was that nagging feeling I would get at the end of the day reminding me of just how much time I had spent in a virtual reality rather than present with my girls that made me start asking myself questions. How is it a good thing for my girls to be watching me spend hours on my phone every day? How can I even explain to them what exactly I'm doing? They have no idea where these photos that I take of them every single day go. They have no concept of just why they have to smile and cooperate for photos. They have no part of this job because they are not in the "world" of Instagram at all, and yet at the same time, so much of the job depends on them. Over the last few months this began to feel really, really, really NOT good to me.
And what just further confirmed those bad feelings was how GUILT-FREE I felt every single night over the last month when I'd put the girls to bed. I was present that day. I had been involved that day. I had made the most of that day with them with NO distractions.
Keep in mind that everything I just said above isn't necessarily true of just IG influencers... it can be spending too much time just scrolling Facebook, Google, IG, Pinterest, you name it! For business OR personal reasons.
Over those weeks free from IG I also noticed that when I would look back at photos in my phone that I took over the years for Instagram, I didn't have a heart-warming "aww these pictures are so sweet" reaction to them - rather, I felt a heaviness as I remembered that those photos were actually "work." This seemed to disprove yet another Instagram myth I had believed about how being an influencer is really great because you get to document so much and have so many memories captured.  To me, there comes a point where it really does become work and not family time, and as pretty as a picture might be, if it was forced or posed then it just didn't feel like a real memory. It was work.
Something else that I realized during my hiatus while processing through all of this with a good friend of mine (who is also an IG influencer), was how oftentimes the constant flow of "things" into your life can ironically foster an attitude of ungratefulness. You'd think that it should make me grateful - which SO many times it did!! But it also got to a point where I was just saying "yes" to collaborations to get more and more and more. Or how many times a shop or business would reach out to me and I would agree to work with them just because someone else was working with them too. How many times I'd be waiting for a product to arrive and as soon as it would show up, it was like I was onto the next thing. What should have been making me grateful and thankful had truly morphed into such an unhealthy attitude! I also felt that when I look at my photos, I don't want my pictures to be focused on THINGS. Collaborations foster that kind of focus which I think can be dangerous if it's out of balance. I realized that when I take a photo, I more often than not want it to be a real life, every day, ordinary or extraordinary moment that I documented because I wanted to and because I hoped that by taking a photo I could better remember it. Because I want to ADD to that moment, not take something away by cheapening it into an advertisement.
Another huge area that I was surprised to discover during my hiatus was how the burden of keeping an immaculate home was completely lifted off my shoulders. Again, I can't speak for every influencer out there, but for myself, I felt that if I didn't have a clean home and chose to only photograph the clean spots, that that would be living some kind of lie. That left me feeling like I constantly had to maintain a perfectly spotless house. If I'm being honest, that was actually kind of easy to do before Prim when I only had two older girls to manage. But when Primrose came along, everything shifted and I couldn't keep the house the way I wanted to anymore. Here's a funny story about me letting go of the whole "perfect aesthetic" idea. In the last month Prim graduated from her Dockatot to a pack n play in our room. Doesn't seem like such a big deal, but let me just say - a month ago there was no way I'd allow a pack n play to stay in our room! What an eyesore! What an aesthetic-ruiner! But after this detox I can honestly say it makes me so happy to see it in our room. That's what works for us, and I don't have anything to prove to anyone. I actually remember one day shortly after I started my break, I had cleaned the girls' room top to bottom and felt that urge to take a picture to document it. I felt so disappointed with myself when I realized how often I had been doing these things (normal responsibilities that come with keeping a home) for the praise of man and not for God's glory! That was a sobering thought, but also very freeing when I realized that now keeping a clean home was purely an act of worship between me and God. No stories to document it, no posts to highlight it. No pressure to keep up with the Joneses.
Speaking of keeping up with the Joneses, now I'm going to talk about what I would say is one of the worst aspects of IG influencer life. THE COMPETITION. SOOO much is about growth and numbers and engagement and who has worked with who and as much as people may talk about being supportive of one another, you'd have to be living in complete denial if you can't admit that there is some REAL catty mean girls clique behavior that takes place in the realm of IG moms. Don't get me wrong - I wouldn't know it if I wasn't myself very very wrapped up in it all too. But after a couple of weeks out of IG land and in reality, I realized just how silly it all is. I already talked about it a bit earlier, but I just wanted to say again that IG numbers DO NOT translate into real life. They don't define you. They don't better you. They don't validate you. They don't give value to you. Honestly, in my opinion, Instagram would be a much better place if that follower count was completely removed from everyone's profiles! Keeping those numbers up really seems to perpetuate the idea that our value lies in numbers or that we belong in different "classes." Something that we would all say is wrong, yet we are faced with it every day when we open up that app. It's SUCH an unhealthy way of thinking! I can't tell you how freeing it was to get OUT of that mindset and into reality where there are no numbers to keep track of at all.
Lastly, I was really surprised to find that in the final week of my Instagram hiatus whenever I would begin thinking about returning to the gram I'd feel this sense of dread wash over me. I didn't want to be part of the pressures or get caught up in the competition or deal with the stress again. Honestly, I really wanted to just stay away. But as I thought about it, I realized that I don't think that God wants us to handle difficult situations by simply fleeing from them. I think that sin taints everything in this world, and that we need to figure out how to navigate each situation responsibly. Instagram is NOT bad in and of itself. It CAN be a wonderful accessory to life. It CAN be a huge source of encouragement among fellow believers. It CAN be a wonderful business opportunity. But like everything else in life, it has to be treated with care and balance and kept in its proper place. Once my priorities get out of whack and Instagram makes its way to the top, it is a very slippery slope.
If you're reading this and you're an IG influencer that finds themselves burnt out or spending way too much time comparing numbers, I would highly HIGHLY recommend taking a step back to reevaluate. Everybody who really cares about you will still be here when you get back. But that's not even the important thing. The important thing is detaching from this crazy virtual reality that can pull us away so easily from those we love most. Not to mention the affects that it has on YOU as well! You won't notice just how much it affects you until you take a solid month off of the gram. But I promise, it will be SO worth it.
If you're reading this and you're just a "normal" mom who maybe dreams sometimes of becoming an IG influencer... I just want to say one thing: don't take for granted just how wonderful it is to be just a "normal" mom. I found myself SO enjoying it this last month and all of the freedom that I had to just live in the moment without any pressures from an app turned business. I am not convinced that I'll actually stick around as an IG influencer! It may look beautiful and maybe even perfect, but it's not, and I hope that this very vulnerable blog post can attest to that. And just know that no matter how glamorous IG life may look, it's a highlight real... and NOTHING compares to the beauty and purpose that comes from fulfilling your calling as mama to your children, wife to your husband, and keeper of your home. That's because it's a divine calling, which means it offers divine satisfaction.
There is really SO MUCH to be said about this topic and I'm sure I'm going to be processing a LOT more over the next few weeks. I've come back to the gram for now, but I've set boundaries for myself and if it gets to a point where it's consuming too much of my time again, you can bet it'll be off of my phone in a blink. There's gonna be a lot less posed, a lot more candid, a lot less "things," and a lot more moments. I don't want to miss out on being in the moment with my family - especially as homeschooling really kicks into gear in the fall. This past month has been such an incredible learning experience and I want to give myself a chance to get things under control and find a healthy balance for myself and my family. There are definitely good parts that come with running an IG influencer account, but those are nothing compared to the immense satisfaction I feel in being just a "normal" mom. That's my happy place.
Above all, I plan to remember that this is JUST an app, and that in the grand scheme of life what happens on Instagram really matters very, very little.


  1. Thank you for sharing, even thou I don’t have a lot of followers I sometimes find myself using the app for long periods at a time and wish I could gain more followers. Reading this is making me re-think what I really want to be doing with my time.

  2. Thank you for being so vulnerable in your writing. It is encouraging to read.

  3. Thanks for sharing and being so honest. It’s hard to remember that Instagram world isn’t real and I’ve found myself even jealous. And it’s a terrible feeling

  4. This is gold. Inspiring me to take a month detox and I'm not an influencer! I use my account for business though and it's amazing what stress/anxiety goes into a made-up world. I am giddy over thinking this could be an answer t less stress in my life right now. Thanks for your honesty.