The Importance of Behind the Scenes Moments

The Importance of Behind the Scenes Moments

I view Instagram and social media as an art form.  There is so much time and creativity put into it that often goes unnoticed.  And just like with any art, we want to get it perfect. Our feeds should be aesthetically beautiful, our captions should be perfectly palpable, and our writing should be eloquent and swift.  And, this work should be appreciated: it does not come without effort and it is desiring of art.

Yet, social media is different than any form of art before.  While you can paint a picture and put it up in a room, it is not thought that that picture encompasses you and your life.  When you post on social media though, your posts become you. They are your public representation world of who you are and what your life looks like.  People assume they know you when they see your profile. And to many, this assumption feels unfair, because it brings with it a new sense of responsibility.  We are responsible for showing reality in this art form, as much as beauty and perfection.

I think this responsibility is what is leading to the rise of behind the scenes posts right now.  Social media is a curation of moments, but when that’s taken to represent all of reality, it can be pretty harmful.  So, all of us, who spend our hours thinking about how we can create the best content possible now have something new to think about: how can we continue to make art we are proud of, while also showing reality for all that is.  Behind the Scenes posts do exactly this: they show the art process. They show what the day to day looks like, including the moments of no creativity and struggles. They bring reality into this curation of moments.

My challenge for you is to think about how can you bring reality into your social media presence?  How can you make your account a positive space, instead of a negative one?

I’ll be sharing a full blog post of behind the scenes moments from my latest Instagram later this week.

 

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The Cherry Blossom Festival & My Second Spring Style Essential

The Cherry Blossom Festival & My Second Spring Style Essential

My favorite season in D.C. is cherry blossom season.  It makes this city feel so magical, as there are pink and white flowers everywhere you look.  I was so sad last year that I missed this special time of year while doing my college program, but that just made me so excited to see it this year.  The wait was worth it, because everything fell into place this weekend– my mom was in town for a visit, the kite blossom festival was happening on Saturday (without us even knowing it), and the weather was absolutely perfect.  Everything about yesterday made me fall just a little bit more in love with this beautiful place. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the day:

I’m also so excited for the second installment of my spring essentials with another classic piece, the denim jacket.  I love denim jackets and can almost always be found in the spring and fall to be wearing one. I love the look of denim jackets over summer dresses, as I think it can make a nicer dress look a bit more casual. I also love how you can make a denim jacket fit your personality– you can embroider the back, wear a plain classic jacket, or find one in colored denim, like my spring pink jacket.  

I bought my classic denim jacket from Ann Taylor Loft– it is $89.50 but is currently on sale for 50% off.  My pink denim jacket is also from Ann Taylor Loft, but is currently out of stock.  Land’s End has a great alternative available though for $53.97 right now.

Here’s how I’ve styled denim jackets:

 

Happy spring and I hope you enjoy seeing many more colorful outfits in the future!

 

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About My Blogging Experience: Part One

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About My Blogging Experience: Part One

The past few days on my Instagram story, I’ve been running a Q&A all about blogging, photography, and Instagram.  In fifteen seconds, I did not always have as much as time as I wanted to answer questions so, I’m sharing some longer answers here!

Q: How and why did you start blogging?

A: I started my first blog in June 2017 as a summer passion project– it focused on finding the uncovered history stories in my home county, Westchester, NY.  I loved writing this blog for the summer and spent every Friday and Saturday exploring new spots with my mom. However, I knew this type of schedule was unsustainable for when I was at school, so I decided to put that blog away (for the meantime, I may bring it back at some point). Fast forward through a few failed attempts to get back into blogging, I finally committed in summer 2018 that I was going to blog again, but I needed it to be something that was sustainable in my life and I was truly passionate about.  I kept feeling that I wanted to do something to break down the perfection complex of social media, while also helping people to find happiness in everyday– and so, the Self-Care Diaries were born. This was meant to be a place of celebration for successes but also acceptance and understanding for failures. Since launching this blog in October 2018, things have changed a bit: I’ve realized that this first goal I had of wanting to show reality online and find the good in everyday could expand far beyond just self-care.  Still, this idea is what drives everything I do with my social media presence and blog.

Q: How do you find the time to blog while being a college student?

A: I want to be completely honest: sometimes, it’s really hard.  I try to be reasonable with myself at all times and remember that I am a full time college student, not a full time blogger.  So, if I know I have a stressful week of papers and tests, I will set my expectation for the week that I will write one blog post and publish two Instagrams.  If I have a lighter week, I set my plan for the week to involve more content creation– maybe, two blog posts, three Instagram posts, and some interactive Instagram stories.  I also do set time in my schedule that is designated blog time. During those times, I will just focus on my content creation, whether that is blogging, taking and editing photos, or working on my content calendar.

Q: How do you come up for ideas for blogs when you feel stuck?

A: I have a few strategies for this.  First, whenever I get an idea, I immediately write it down on a note I have on my phone where I keep all my blog related content, including post ideas, quotes, and captions.  This way, later on, when I am staring at my blank document with NO idea what to write, I can look to this note and see some ideas that I may have forgotten about or passed on in the past.  Secondly, I really try to crowdsource for ideas when I’m stuck. I ask my Instagram followers in polls what they would like to see and what they wouldn’t like to see. I also see what other bloggers are talking about and think about if I have a response I would like to share, or if I can bounce off their idea somehow.  I also pay attention to the DM conversations I’ve had on Instagram– are people continually bringing up a topic to me? Is this something I would be passionate about writing about? Usually, at the end of this process, I have a topic I am really excited to write and share about.

This post has already gotten very long, so I am going to cut it off at that question but I will try to answer some blog-related questions here every week or so.  

 

Sharing My Playlist for Life’s Most Overwhelming Lyrics

Sharing My Playlist for Life’s Most Overwhelming Lyrics

Yesterday was a hard day.  I felt overwhelmed in every aspect of my life– professionally, I have a big decision coming up and many interviews; academically, I had a paper due that I struggled A LOT with for my hardest class; socially, I get down on myself that I’m not a good enough friend because there are weeks where I feel like I don’t make enough time for my friends.  On days like that, self-doubt creeps in and tells me that I’m only overwhelmed because I’m not good enough, not smart enough, not strong enough. I know I’m far from being alone in feeling like I’m constantly fighting a little monster in my head– if you’re feeling this way, I want to remind you: we are stronger than that monster.

I turn to music when I’m overwhelmed to help me fight the monster. I feel like music can help me feel seen and understood so I’m sharing below five of my favorite songs that help me calm down and also, a link to my spotify playlist.

 

  1. Hold On by Shawn Mendes.  

 

Favorite Lyric: And it won’t slow down, no matter what you do, so you just gotta hold on.

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  1. Girl in the Movies by Dolly Parton.

Favorite Lyric: I want to be happy, I want to be free, just like that girl in the movies.

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  1. Flicker by Niall Horan.

Favorite Lyric: Then I look in my heart, there’s a light in the dark.

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  1. Inside Your Heaven by Carrie Underwood.

Favorite Lyric: When minutes turn to days and years, if mountains fall, I’ll still be here.

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  1. 1973 by James Blunt.

Favorite Lyric: I will always be in a club with you in nineteen seventy three, singing here we go again.

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Here’s my entire Spotify playlist, which I do periodically update and add new music to:

Finding Intention on Social Media

Finding Intention on Social Media

Intention (n)- an aim or purpose

This word has been on my mind a lot lately in regards to almost everything in my life right now: my career path, my blog, my extracurricular involvement, and even just my interactions with others.  In each of these, what is my intention? What is my purpose, my end goal?

It is so easy to lose sight of intention in this busy and loud world and nowhere is that easier than social media.  Whether you’re a blogger or just someone who enjoys Instagram, you joined social media and use it for a reason. Maybe, it’s to stay informed about your friends lives and better connect with them, maybe it’s to promote a business or idea, or maybe it’s a learning space to you where you can connect with resources.  Most likely, when you’re scrolling Instagram or putting together your latest caption, you aren’t thinking of this reason. You aren’t thinking about your purpose for being on social media, and that’s not your fault. In fact, social media encourages us not to think about our purpose.

Social media is paradise for a micromanager.  Every detail matters on social media and none can be too well thought out.  Think about presets. I have spent a ridiculous amount of time in the last two months working on my presets, trying to get the tone, tint, and lighting of my photos exactly perfect and make it so that my feed is cohesive.  The crazier part is that presets are an industry: people are selling them constantly and more and more bloggers are making videos/blogs about how they edit their photos with presets.

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This is my Lightroom account right now– it features many photos I’ve never posted and many photos edited in one to two different presets.

Maybe, you haven’t gone into the preset world or engaged with them in any way, but you still probably fall into the social media micromanaging.  At dinner yesterday with a friend, we spent part of our meal analyzing his photos and why they hadn’t been getting as many likes as usual. We went through every detail in these photos.  Were they posted at a topically relevant time? Was the photo aesthetically pleasing or confusing? Were they posted at a high traffic time for Instagram? My friend is not even super into social media and found himself on social media’s micromanaging island.

When you’re constantly thinking about the details, it’s hard to remember there’s a big picture to even think about.  Personally, this is my greatest weakness in all aspects of my life, but social media definitely exacerbates it for me.  Sometimes, you need to take a step back though and think back to that original reason why you’re on social media. For me, I created my  Instagram in the eighth grade, when the app was not even two years old yet. I joined because I wanted to be able to connect and share photos with friends– at the time, I followed about 10 people who I went to school with and the app felt like our collective photo album.  This fall, when I started my blog, my reason for Instagram became to create a positive place of honesty, sharing, and growth.  I was frustrated with how negative and purposeless a place social media, in particular Instagram, had become and I wanted to do something to change it for others, in whatever way I could.  

My intention for all my social media– my blog, my instagram, my twitter, and my pinterest– is to be always be a place of kindness and honesty.  I challenge you to think about your own intentions for social media. If you’re lost on where to even start, here’s some captions to ask yourself:

  1. What reason made you download Instagram or whatever social media app you’re thinking about?
  2. What are you proud of on your social media?  Is it the artistic nature of your photos, your witty captions, or your interactions with friends or followers?
  3. Do you feel like your in-person persona matches your social media presence?  Is your social media presence helping you to be the person you want to be?
  4. How can your social media help you in your goals as a person?  Can it help you be a better friend, a better resource, or a better professional?
  5. Are you happy with your social media presence?  If not, why not and what can you do to change it?

 

 

Living My Truth: Being Vulnerable on Social Media

Living My Truth: Being Vulnerable on Social Media

“Love Yourself Instead of Loving the Idea of Other People Loving You”

I saw this quote come up on my Instagram feed and I immediately felt seen.  This quote encapsulated my struggle so well, so I shared it on my story. When a friend reached out then saying she related and started telling me her story, I felt I had to share my own story– I had to share why this quote meant so much to me and touched me so much.

So, I sat down on my bedroom floor (the spot with the best lighting in my apartment) and I recorded a video about losing myself sophomore year of college.  I had the perfect life on the surface– a big group of friends, leadership on campus, a great internship, and good grades– but, I was still so unhappy. I felt lost.  I was at a point of doubt with my religion and I was seriously questioning if God was real and if He was, did it even matter? I made a lot of decisions because of groupthink, rather than using my own judgment.  I was always with people and yet, I had never felt so alone in my life. I thought I had to love myself because others loved me, but I wasn’t happy with myself. I finished recording (after a few takes) and hit post.

Immediately after uploading, panic hit.  Had I shared too much? Would the people who knew me during that time period judge me and unfollow me?  Did people even want to hear about my struggles with faith?

I’ve shared my stories in the past, but this was scarier to me than usual and for a while, I couldn’t understand why.  Then, it hit me. I was sharing this story simply to share and for no other reason.

When I speak about anxiety, I’m speaking to share, but also because I want to be a resource to anyone who is struggling.  When I talk about social media comparison culture, it’s because I want to be part of changing this culture. In those moments, I am working for a higher purpose.

When I posted about feeling lost, confused, and unhappy, I simply shared because I wanted to be real.  I wanted to take off the mask for a moment and say my honest truth without trying to put a spin on it. And telling the truth, for no reason than wanting to show reality, is really scary.  It leaves you at your most vulnerable, but those are the moments that matter.

I don’t think we tell the truth enough.  I don’t think we’re real enough, with ourselves or others, enough.  We always have an agenda or are trying to put a spin on things. Right now, I’m conquering my fears by just telling my truth.  No spins, no masks, just me.

February Goal Check-In

February Goal Check-In

Can you believe it?  We are two months into the year already and it just feels like 2019 is flying by.  With the year rolling and the semester halfway done already, I feel this is a good time to do a goals check-in and set some goals for the rest of the semester.

Goal Check-In:

Goal #1: Plan Less: This was my biggest goal for the year and the goal I’ve seen the most progress on.  I’ve said goodbye to my Google Calendar, where I would plan out every single minute of my day.  I mean it– I would create time periods for sleep. Productivity was the name of my game, but I just ended out burnt out and unhappy.  With a less structured schedule, I’ve made time in my life for the moments you don’t always predict– the meetings that run over, the random run-ins and catch-ups with friends, and time to relax and breathe.  I’ve still got a LOOOONG way to go on this goal, as I usually can still be found making plans weeks in advance and still have a pretty stuffed calendar, but I’m getting there.

Goal #2: Spend More Time with Friends: Whenever I get busy, I tend to isolate myself and only spend time with the people who directly relate to whatever I’m busy with, whether that’s work, extracurriculars, or class.  Whenever I do that, I create a stress bubble for myself, as I’m only around people who share my stresses and struggles. I’ve been trying to make time for all my friends this semester and I’ve been doing pretty well on this.  I’ve been getting coffees and dinners with friends I wouldn’t otherwise see and Facetiming my long distance friends.

Goal #3: Get to the Gym: This is the goal I have been so sporadic about.  There are some weeks where I get myself to the gym daily with excitement about the next episode of my podcast.  And then, there are weeks when I can’t even fathom where I’d get the forty-five minutes a day to spend at the gym.  I’d day I’d score like a 4/10 on this goal so far.

Where do I go from here?  Well, I consider the progress I’ve made so far and use that to help me form new goals for the rest of the semester.  Here’s what I have so far:

  1. Continue to try to plan less and be more spontaneous.  Try to go into a weekend with nothing on the calendar and just make it up as I go.
  2. Make time for myself.  I often feel like on the weekends, I’m exhausted from everything and just need some time to decompress with myself.  I want to start making time a few times a week for me to do this so it doesn’t pile up.
  3. Actually get to the gym consistently.  I really want to get into the habit of going daily or every other day and so, this is a goal I want to continue working on.