Reminder: Instagram is Not Reality

Jess Ann Kirby styles a Rails Charli Button Down with Agolde Dee Shorts and Converse sneakers
Jess Ann Kirby loves her Rails Charloe button down in perch stripe for summer

Phrases you’ve probably seen on Instagram: “goals,” “I want your life,” “best summer ever,” “you’re perfect,” … I think you get the point (and yes I admit I’ve definitely commented on other people’s photos with some of those). I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but this particular shoot really made me reflect on the nature of Instagram right now. When I posted video from this shoot on my IG Stories I got a lot of commentary that resembles the above. I recognize some of it is tongue-in-cheek but there’s no denying the power of Instagram and how it affects our perception of reality. Instagram is a great connector, a place to find inspiration, and for me, a part of how I make my living. It can also create feelings of anxiety, poor self-esteem, depression and inadequacy. While many of us KNOW that much of what we see on Instagram isn’t reality (or it’s just a tiny curated sliver) it can still create all of those negative feelings when we open the app and start scrolling.

If I’m being honest I recognize I am guilty of contributing to this, and I am also victim to some of those same feelings of “I’m not good enough.” If you take a look at my Instagram feed you might assume my house is always clean, I spend my days at the beach and on the water, I’m always well dressed and my hair always looks good. Couldn’t be further from the truth. My life is far from perfect. Of the hundreds of photos Craig and I shoot every week, a small handful get posted to Instagram. That photo wasn’t just snapped really quickly while we were out “having the best summer ever.” I styled an outfit, I did my hair and makeup, we picked a location, we did an entire photoshoot, the photos were edited, and a select few made it here to the blog and Instagram. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life. We have a lot of fun, we are very lucky. We have a home we love, pets we adore, we work for ourselves and have jobs we genuinely enjoy, but we also struggle with the same $hit everyone else does. I found myself scrolling through Instagram about a week ago and in that moment felt like a loser. Why wasn’t I jet-setting, on a boat or a beach with lots of friends, traveling somewhere exotic, doing some really cool collaboration or on a fancy trip with a brand? I closed out Instagram, sat there and thought about why I felt that way. I started to think about my own reality and the things that make me happy. When I actually thought about it, I realized a few things. First, I realized that I was comparing my life to other people’s highlight reels, yes even though I KNOW from experience what goes into an Instagram photo I was still allowing that to impact how I feel about myself and my life. Second, I recognized that what makes me happy and where I find joy isn’t the same as everyone else. Yes I love to travel but for the most part I just want to be home, with my pets. I could never travel 24/7  or go to tons of events or whatever other things that might look glamorous on Instagram. So if any of this makes sense, the point I’m trying to make is that your happy, your highlight reel, doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s.

Think about what really makes you happy and fulfilled, not what Instagram and social media makes you think you need to have or be doing. If you find yourself on Instagram feeling inadequate, pause and think about why. If you find yourself following someone on Instagram that makes you feel like you need to be somebody else, unfollow them. The photos in this post are the best of 700+ we took that night (if you want to see some of the ones that didn’t make the cut, check out my IG stories-there’s some real winners). I really don’t want to make anyone feel like their life isn’t good enough or that mine is better, trust me it’s not. Would love to know how all of you feel about this topic and if you’ve ever found yourself struggling with any of this. Let me know in the comments.

Jess Ann Kirby picks sunflowers on the weekend in a Rails button down and Converse sneakers
Jess Ann Kirby lives in denim shorts in the summer and often wears them with classic button down shirts
Jess Ann Kirby visits Sweet Berry Farm in a button down and jean shorts
Jess Ann Kirby shares the reality of her life off of Instagram
Jess Ann Kirby picks sunflowers in denim shorts and a Hat Attack straw tote

Outfit Details

Rails Charlie Button Down (xs)
AGOLDE Dee High Rise Shorts (23– Also have this wash in 24)
Converse 70s Oxford Sneakers (fit tts)
Le Specs Mirrored Sunglasses
Gorjana 5 Disc Choker Necklace
Kayu Straw Tote

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