Pressure starts at an early age these days. My son who is 5 has just had a reading (phonics) test at school that the government says every child his age has to do. My feelings on that one are a whole other story! Pressure carries on through life and many of us know all about the pressures of work, deadlines, of juggling family, relationships and everything else in between. More and more though I think so much pressure in life is self inflicted and the greatest pressure of all is the internal one to be perfect at everything we do.
When I first met my husband almost 16 years ago I wanted so badly for him to think I was perfect, and I can clearly remember thinking that if he got to really know me he wouldn’t love me. Isn’t that awful? I had no self confidence, and I thought the polite, ever happy version of me was the only loveable version of me. Of course I should have had more faith because all these years later he’s still here, and I assume he’s got to know me by now 🙂
Our battle for perfectionism doesn’t stop here though, it extends to our appearance, our homes, our kids. We feel like we are judged at every turn, if our toddlers throw tantrums in the supermarket it’s because we can’t cope and are hopeless mothers. In reality we care far more than anyone else does. Obviously some people take extreme measures with their appearance, but I guess even those of us who are less worried on that front are hard on ourselves about our weight or our own perceived “worst features” too much of the time.
I think for those of us with creative jobs/interests, our self imposed standards of perfection are at times in itself crippling our creativity. I see this discussed quite regularly on Instagram, as people apologise for deleting or reposting an image, or confess to not knowing what to post next in order to keep up their gallery style. Sometimes people comment that they are upset that a certain picture they liked wasn’t well received, and I’m very familiar with each of these myself.
We all rightly or wrongly judge a picture on how many likes it got. It’s a struggle not to believe if a picture got half the likes, it’s half as good. Now some of my pictures on Instagram get as much as 5 times more likes than others! However much I try to look at things with a fair but critical eye I refuse to believe one picture is 5 times better than another, or one is 5 times worse!!
It’s important to know there are other factors at play in how well “liked” your pictures are, some hit the explore page and once they are there they are viewed as a thumbnail until someone clicks on them. My opinion is that if your picture hits the explore page it’s more likely to carry on picking up likes if it has something simple and striking about the colour, subject matter and composition, and nothing too personal about it.
I tell myself this all the time, yet still instead of congratulating myself on a picture that gets high likes, I berate myself about a picture that gets low likes in comparison. I am really trying to look at things in a different way and be ok with some pictures not doing as well, because actually its ok for people not to like a picture isn’t it? It certainly doesn’t mean it’s a bad picture, or they don’t like me, it just means they engaged with another one more.
I’ve always seen my gallery as a mood board. It’s very seasonal, I prefer to keep things current and I don’t jump back and forth too much to photos from other locations, seasons or points in time. Scrolling down through my gallery I love the way it ebbs and flows. Last Summer was punctuated with the red from the poppy pictures, in the Autumn the tones were earthy and in the Winter the shadows were deeper and the colours muted. For this reason I can’t keep up any one colour palette or mood, and I don’t want to. I want my Instagram to carry on reflecting the seasons, and my style to carry on evolving and changing.
Each picture for me is a small piece of a whole story, and I look at my Instagram as a gallery of images that are more effective standing together than they are alone. So really it shouldn’t matter if one image isn’t well liked, or indeed if things take a nose dive for a whole month or two (haha!) because it will continue to ebb, and to flow.
So I will keep telling myself this as I try to be less hard on myself, but in all honestly sometimes the pressure to post perfect images is too much. Today I felt like deleting half my gallery and I saw everything I had posted as not good enough. There will always be people who make life look effortless – work, appearance, parenting, and Instagram, but I’m certain that everyone has the same struggles with confidence even if it never looks that way. My advise if it’s worth anything would be if it bothers you delete it, and if you regret it repost it! Equally just don’t worry about it and move on, because in Instagram as in life you are probably the person being hardest on yourself, and actually everyone else is just busy worrying about their own thing 🙂
I’d love to know your thoughts, do you too let your confidence stifle your creativity? Do you have any tips for overcoming this?
Thanks for reading xx