Think of any given Instagram page and you’ll likely imagine some perfectly curated spread of photos that make the life of the person running it look unobtainable in some way. It might be a barrage of travel photos, make up, outfits, restaurant meals, whatever it is you’re into and using to cram up your feed. Recently, between binge-watching the YouTube channel “The Financial Diet” and speed-reading pretty much the entire finance and business section of Dymocks, I’ve been looking at my own Instagram feed with a critical eye. Blogging makes acquiring these kinds of lifestyles look easy and obtainable, but the simple truth is that they aren’t for most people. If you’re what I would call a “business blogger”, that is to say a savvy individual whose blog is run as a business who is consequently receiving either PR or sponsorships regularly, then living this way probably isn’t driving you into financial ruin because you’ve been clever and monetised appropriately. If, however, you’re more of a “hobbyist”, your situation might look very different. With that in mind, I wanted to share some lessons I’ve learned about the financial truth of “keeping up with the Joneses” on Instagram over the past few years.
I have a theory that New Year’s resolutions happen not because of the idea of a fresh start, but rather because many people get time off around this time of year and so actually have half a second to reflect and decide where their lives need a readjustment (usually in that few days between Christmas and New Years where you’re not even sure what year it actually is any more). I’m someone who frequently freely admits her life is looking rather like a Picasso painting. The difference is that mine isn’t so much artful creativity/a masterpiece as it is just a mess of things happening at once. In saying that, this year has involved a lot of careful thinking and restructuring. This has been out of necessity rather than want, but it has given me some ideas about the coming year and which areas of my life need retuning. A lot of these affect the content I’m going to be bringing to you for 2019, so with that in mind I hope you’ll join me on a deep dive into the attitudes I’m planning to readjust in the coming year.
Here’s a story that doesn’t paint me in a particularly flattering light: part of the reason I chose my career was because of a slightly unhealthy obsession with the idea of “moments”.
To explain what I mean, let me tell you a tale about a thirteen year old boy who would grow up to have the most epic beard mankind had ever seen.
Correlation is not causation, but I find it interesting to note that my life has been falling apart at almost exactly the same rate that the number in my bank account has been deteriorating. Money is a part of life, but managing it is a skill which comes naturally to some people and is like learning a foreign language to others. I fall into the latter category by a country mile, yet that fact has led me to have to actively seek out people and information to help me cultivate my skills. Over the last couple of years, I’ve learned more about money than I have in the entire 26 years preceding that. Given the fact that money issues cause us incredible angst, I figured it might be worth sharing some of the quick tips I’ve picked up which have helped me get through.
I had two very different and very odd experiences with brands this past week, both of which demonstrated a point I’d never really thought much about before. Namely, they showed me that we should all be approaching relationships in our life with a way better Public Relations model than we’ve currently got going on.
The first was an outstanding positive: a brand, who I have never worked with professionally but who I have purchased from and mentioned on my instagram stories a few times, reached out to ask me how I was enjoying their product. They were actually seeking genuine feedback from their consumers about their products to see if they could improve. I raised a small concern, and they immediately took it on board and offered a solution. The other happened almost simultaneously and was initially less fun. A brand had reposted an image of mine without giving credit. I’d asked them to amend it. They apologised sincerely, addressed my concerns directly and suggested a possible solution if I were okay with it. I was, and it was all resolved neatly with me walking away feeling warm and fuzzy as opposed to frustrated and upset as I had been prior to their response.
The whole exchange also reminded me of a conversation I’d had with a pre-service teacher (a student teacher, for those of you unfamiliar with the new politically correct lingo – yes I am rolling my eyes) earlier that day. I’d been giving her feedback on a lesson and mentioned how I’d noticed her taking time to get to know the students.
“Relationship building is probably hands down the most important skill you can have as a teacher,” I told her, no doubt striking a pose that reflected the great wisdom my many years of experience and knowledge has afforded me (*cough*).
Despite my total lack of right to claim any life knowledge whatsoever, I think I was kind of right. It’s just that I missed the part where it’s valid in life, not just teaching or blogging.
I had a realisation recently. I constantly find myself striking up conversations with near or total strangers on Instagram, and it’s literally only just occurred to me that this might be a weird habit.
Post a photo of a particularly delicious ice cream? I’ll tell you it looks tasty. A new hiking trail? I’ll ask where that is. I’m not even remotely exaggerating about those possibilities either. I recently shared a joke with a girl I’ve met only once in my life about the fact that my Instagram following keeps getting stuck at 666. I frequently chat with a girl I’ve never met in NSW about how online dating sucks ass. Not half an hour ago, I commented to another girl living in Canberra that the view out of her window looks pretty.
Does anyone else do this or am I just slightly unhinged?
I had this sudden premonition that perhaps I’m the Instagram equivalent of that weirdo at the party who latches onto random groups and butts their way into conversation with all the subtlety of a brick to the face. To be completely fair, I kind of AM that person whether online or in the real world anyway. I’d like to claim that it’s all part of my charm, but I’m not sure anyone has ever considered a complete lack of social awareness charming. Let’s just roll with it.
So is this weird? And is it a bad thing?
Food addiction. Do those words sound like absolute bollocks invented by the media to you? Fair enough. Sit down my friends and allow me to introduce you to my world.
I have a shocking announcement for you – I’m a fat person. I know, I know, try to hold back your incredulity. It’s a fact. I am in excess of 30+ kilos overweight and it’s literally killing me.
When you look at me, you will know that I am a fat person, but you may not think it’s that big of a deal.
“But Steph,” people so often exclaim, “you don’t look that big!”
While I thank you for your flattering observation, the fact remains that I am marching myself towards death by Type 2 Diabetes at a really rapid pace.
“Well!” I hear you huff behind your computer screens. “Do something about it then!” I couldn’t agree more. And here, dear reader, is where I need you to understand a few things.
On more than one occasion in life, someone has (without warning or a great deal of context) referred to me as a “strong independent woman”. On more than one occasion, I have had to tilt my head to one side as I try to figure out if they’re being patronising or not. About 50% of the time, they are.
We live in a modern society that preaches a strange dichotomy. Women are raised on the traditional diet of fairy tales and chick flicks that teach us that we should have our hero riding in on a white horse at any moment, but we also have this newly emerging viewpoint telling us that we don’t need no man and we’re queens in our own right. All very well and good, but ultimately a confusing contradiction. I imagine (though I cannot possibly speak from experience) that men suffer a similar problem, not just in portrayals of masculinity, but also in what they’re told to be attracted to. Is it the traditional damsel in distress they like feeling that they can help (not necessarily a bad thing), or is it the strong independent woman who exudes confidence and assurance (also not a bad thing)?