Martin Gee for TIME
Wellness

Why I Left My Perfect Instagram Persona Behind

Aug. 10, 2016

'I wasn’t living my dream at all, I was telling #halfthestory'

The sound of my pulse echoed in my head as I pushed through a group of huddled photographers outside of Penn Station at New York Fashion Week. Looking down, I only had 15 minutes to make it to the next show.

The subway doors began to close as I fought through crowds of passengers and onto the platform, forcing my way onboard. Pacing anxiously, watching the clock for the next five stops, I bolted off the train and sprinted up the stairs and into the blinding daylight. BAM! I found myself face down on the concrete, gripping a shattered phone, staring down at my skinned knees. Glamorous, right?

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I gathered my scattered belongings and remaining dignity, fighting back tears and trying to ignore the burning sensation in my legs. In an enterprising feat, I made it to the show on time, wiping away tears and sweat on the cuff of my jean jacket as I walked in.

As I regained my composure, I was overwhelmed by the realization that I was “living my dream.” Or so you’d think from looking at the situation from the outside. Three years ago, I was a college kid with a blog and a dream. And now, here I was covering NYFW for respected media outlets.

After the show ended and I was able to decompress, I began sifting through my photos looking for my next great Instagram shot. The winner? A picture of myself on a street corner.

My fingers quickly drafted the caption, “Jay Chillin’ street side pt.3,” and pressed post without much thought.

But this time, I was consumed by social media guilt. I hid behind my carefree caption failing to share the truth behind my overwhelming anxiety, sleep deprivation, physical pain and feeling of inadequacy. I wasn’t living my dream at all, I was telling #halfthestory.

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My Instagram feed screamed “superwoman!” — student at a top tier university, blogger, entrepreneur, sister, etc…

In reality, I was barely holding it together. I neglected to share the other side of my reality: 17-hour workdays, debilitating anxiety and behind the scenes fails (knees meet street). The more connected I became with my digital dreamworld, the less connected I was to myself.

Too often we give in to the pressure to craft the perfect (social) story, and we limit our ability to access the full range of human connection that comes from being vulnerable and showing our honest selves.

I returned to New York six months later for February’s Fashion Week to speak at the Soho House on a panel about Social Storytelling where I introduced my new platform @halfthestory: A place to leave social personas behind and create a community of supportive dialogue around who we really are when we’re not crafting ourselves for perfection.

Interested in checking us out? Head over to Instagram and join the movement at @halfthestory.

Larissa May, also known as @livinlikelarz, is a blogger, creative consultant and founder of #Halfthestory, a social media platform that encourages authentic storytelling and true human connection.