Expectation vs. reality: the truth about Instagram and other social media

Expectation vs. reality: the truth about Instagram and other social media

I have a secret for you guys. It’s pretty big news, but I think you can take it. Ready?

Social media is not real.

Okay, it’s not really a secret – we all know that social media isn’t an accurate representation of our lives. And yet still we find ourselves stuck in a cycle of comparison and disappointment.

As a blogger, I live my life through heavily edited photos, over-the-top outfits and power poses. In fact, these days we all do! And why wouldn’t we? If we can use a filter, or a certain angle or pose to make us look thinner, prettier, and all together more attractive, it’s only human to want to do so.

Twenty-Something City yellow ruffle midi dress

Dress: Shein

But while you’re busy filtering your photos, remember everyone else is doing the same. And they are filtering their lives too.

I love that platforms such as Instagram offer a space for me to share my outfits and unique fashion finds. Social media and fashion blogging has provided me with some incredible opportunities and connected me to wonderful and talented people around the world.

To say that I don’t love getting dressed up for social media, or enjoy scrolling through everyone else’s immaculate photos is just not true. Starting my blog is one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I’ve gained so much style inspiration (and confidence) from following other fashionistas online.

Twenty-Something City reality of social media

But recently, I’ve been feeling like I’ve lost my mojo. As much as I try to ‘have it all’ and do it all, I always feel like I’m not achieving enough. Every time I scroll through Instagram, there is a blogger with better content than me, friends going on holidays I can’t afford, and cute couples out on adventures together while I sit in the house by myself. And it sucks.

I asked my good friend and ultimate Girl Boss Ruth Macgilp how she manages it – as a student, blogger, freelance marketer (and more!) I’ve always been in awe of her ability to balance everything when I just want to wrap myself in a duvet burrito. Her response? “I still have days like that too. It’s just no one sees them.”

And that’s exactly it: we are so obsessed with making ourselves and our lives appear desirable that we forget what real life is like. We blame social media for making us miserable, yet really it is ourselves: setting unrealistic standards that we cannot possibly live up to.

If someone were to look at my life on social media, it would look like it was full of glamour and excitement. Sometimes I do go to cool places and get to dress up. But the vast (and I mean VAST) majority of the time I slouch around the house in my gym clothes, working under a blanket on the sofa while binge watching cartoon comedies. I wash my hair once a week at most, and I barely ever wear make-up.

Twenty-Something City reality of social media

Jumper: Shein

Let me share some of the secrets of a blogger photoshoot with you. I like to shoot a couple of outfits on the same day, so I’m always laden with a massive bag. I almost never walk around in the same shoes that I feature in my photos. I take the bus to my shooting location, generally with enough make-up on to terrify a drag queen and looking extremely conspicuous on the Number 25. And after three hours of traipsing around the streets, looking for the best photo backdrops, I am exhausted. Anyone who thinks running a fashion blog is glamorous is sadly mistaken.

If you only knew me through my smiling photos and colourful photos, you would probably assume I was a gloriously happy person who is content with life. I only wish my life was as perfect as it appears!

But then you know all this, right? Everyone has problems and  nothing is as ‘perfect’ as it seems. So if we understand no one lives the way their social media suggests, why do we get so caught up in comparing ourselves to other people’s photos?

Looking up to people to inspire you to work hard and be your best is a good thing. Comparing yourself to other people to the point where it makes you feel inferior is not. The only person you should be in competition with is yourself.

Twenty-Something City orange jumper reality of social media

You don’t have to be perfect. The quality of your Instagram feed doesn’t define you. You are allowed to simply enjoy a moment, rather than Snapchat it for everyone else to see. You can choose to decorate your home with interiors that don’t fit the Instagram-chic aesthetic. Just because you didn’t photograph your outfit doesn’t mean it was wasted. And if you have photographed it, it doesn’t mean you can’t wear it again.

Life is difficult enough without holding ourselves to the expectations of social media. Focus on enjoying your reality, and the rest will follow.

Now excuse me while I go post my latest outfit snaps to Instagram,



I was gifted the clothing in this post. However, all views are my own.



Leave a Reply