Before I published my last article, I was busy for hours trying to edit all my photos exactly the way I wanted them. I reached out to friends and strangers on social media to ask what apps they use to edit, just so I could have the perfect picture.
I finally wrapped up editing and posted my photos to my Instagram account just to link it in my article to get some page views. Shortly after publishing my article, I decided to scroll through my Instagram and admire my page and how much thought I put into each detail. From the highlight covers to each picture having the same filter, and my followers, I was finally proud of my account.
Suddenly, my account logged me out. When I logged back in, it asked me to confirm my email, phone number, and complete a captcha. I knew something was wrong but never expected what happened next. After completing everything, I had a message that informed me if Instagram could confirm my identity, I would have access to my account within 24 hours.
24 hours is an eternity in social media time, and I was panicking. What happened? Why me? Did this happen to anyone else? I took to Twitter with my questions and found that many users unexpectedly had their account disabled, and never got it back.
I have Y E A R S of pictures and archives on there. & finally got my entire page to look EXACTLY the way I want. If… https://t.co/c7p0jLRSwg— anaissa 🌿 (@anaissa 🌿)1601540082.0
I went cold with panic, thinking there's no way I can't get it back. Unfortunately, Instagram has no customer support, and you pretty much have to know someone who knows someone to get any help. There are also hackers claiming they can help you, but I was not about to hand over $100 for my account back.
That's when I realized: How much was my account worth to me?
I've had my Instagram since 2015, and I had endless milestones posted. I always felt this obligation to post about any major event, and my Instagram reflected that. You could also tell early on I didn't have an aesthetic, and I had pictures with people that weren't in my life anymore, but I couldn't delete because these were my 'milestone' pictures. These people also still followed me, which made me uncomfortable, but I never had the heart to unfollow or block them. So why was I so invested in this Instagram account full of old memories and people?
It was the thought of what could've been that I held onto for so long. What could have been good relationships, simply weren't. I tried to create an aesthetic, and essentially create the feel of a new account, without letting go of the past.
I wanted every post to be perfect, because I knew my old ones weren't, and because I knew people who used to be in my life were watching. I wanted to prove how much better my life was now, and though it truly is, I was trying so hard to portray that.
Now, I was able to start fresh, right after the milestone of my 20th birthday. I didn't reach out to those who aren't in my life anymore, and I only follow accounts that I truly want to follow. I am now able to post freely, with whatever filter or aesthetic I choose, without wondering which ghost from my past is watching, or if I or my life looks better now.
I also discovered that not everything needs to be broadcasted across everyone's screens. Some pictures are nice to have, and are better held close to your heart.
Sometimes it's nice to have a clean slate to start fresh, even if Instagram does it for you.