People always commend me for my Instagram. I'll hear things like, "Your pictures are so colorful!" or "Your posts get so many likes!". Though I know these were meant to be compliments, it bothers me that the focus of the app has shifted far from its original purpose.

It seems as though we are constantly bombarded with images of people living their absolute best lives. Though we know deep down that the photos we see could be far from reality, we find ourselves caught up in the number of likes or the aesthetic of a picture. For many of us, Instagram is a place where insecurities blossom, watered by false realities. It has become a tool for comparison.

It's time we take Instagram back!

I've recently changed the way I use the app, and it has changed my life. Here's how you can do the same.

1. Pursue your interests!

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Everyone has something they're oddly fascinated by, so you might as well take advantage of it! Insta is literally chalked full of Grammers just waiting for you to stumble upon their profile.

Love art? Follow some creators who are blurring the lines of social norms. Into fashion? You've got endless options here. Follow someone whose style inspires you! Find space intriguing? Hit up the International Space Station or any of its crew members to see their amazing view. Passionate about social justice? Start following a cause you love. Obsessed with your celebrity crush? I guarantee there's a fan account. If you just look, you can surely find what you're looking for.

2. Check your intentions.

Before uploading a photo to the gram, make sure you know why you're posting it. If you're feeling super cute in a new outfit and want to spread the good vibes, have at it! Sharing fun pics from the best night out you've had in a while? I'm all for it. The idea is to capture goodness and love and let others be part of it, too.

But if you're posting just for the recognition- or as the kids these days say, clout- you might want to rethink your decision. Don't perpetuate a fake reality by posting something from an event that was actually awful, and on the same token, don't withhold from posting for fear of "getting no likes".

3. Expand your mind.

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Instagram is a fantastic educational tool. There are so many accounts whose primary focus is to bring awareness to issues which are often overlooked. Additionally, there's an abundance of fact accounts which serve to educate, even about the simplest things. Take advantage of the immense amount of information accessible to you by following accounts that expand your mind and promote your knowledge of the important stuff.

4. Compliment geniunely.

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Next time you leave a comment on someone's post, put more thought into it than usual. Chances are, they put themselves out there when posting, so they will definitely appreciate a specific and observant comment. Go spread some kindness!

5. Remember to laugh!

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Instagram is populated by comedians and certified goofballs, in addition to accounts whose content consists strictly of memes. Follow these and you'll have more than your daily dose of laughter.

6. Don't be afraid to reach out.

The phrase "sliding into the DMs" has become completely comical, as if it is a completely ludacris form of communication. However, I'm actually a huge proponent of the Direct Message system. It's a great way to share funny posts and inside jokes with friends, compliment someone to brighten their day, make a new connection with someone you wouldn't otherwise talk to, or stay in touch when you are unable to communicate with a person another way. (I once maintained a long-distance, cross-country friendship through only Instagram DM for over a year.)

There's nothing holding you back from reaching out to someone!

7. Think outside the box.

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This is perhaps the most important of all. Having fun with it is essential. After all, social media is meant to be an enhancement of real life, so using it to make your life better only makes sense. So post that picture of your delicious lunch, or a cheesy tourist snapshot, or a video of you dancing crazily in your room. Happy gramming!