I started this blog and Instagram back in September and it boomed into something I never imagined that it could. From 30 followers in September to 13.2K now on Bookstagram - I never ever realized this many people would enjoy talking with me about books. I quickly got caught in the rat race of trying to keep up and it was nearly my downfall.
After weeks of feeling frustrated on Bookstagram and feeling completely drained, I was on the verge of deleting my account. I was spending upwards of 30 hours a week on my phone on my account and it just became too much. A fellow bookstagrammer @tbretc had published a post on things you need to do to stay happy on Bookstagram and I took a lot of it to heart. You can find her awesome post here.
I decided on Friday I was going to sign off from my account all together (minus 1 story I posted Sat) and just have an Instagram-free weekend. I deleted the app from my phone all together (because I have no self-control) and here are 12 things I came to realize in my absence:
1. I can't respond to absolutely everything. It's just impossible and I was foolish to think it would be feasible. Much of my time spent on Instagram was answering every single comment, tag and DM. It would take me upwards of 4-6 hours a day in just responding to comments. I'm trying my best to stay engaged but I need to limit myself because I actually now do have early carpal tunnel in my right hand and my eyes are dying from that amount of screen time. I still read and see everything but I just can't keep up that pace.
2. I can't read all the books. Much of my anxiety came from being a very eager bookstagrammer early on. I signed up for every tour and every book that was offered to me because I was so grateful for the opportunities. After months and months of hard work, I'm now in a place where I have so many books and just not enough hours in the day. I really have scaled back asking for books and accepting them now unless I really want to read them. I read pretty fast but 8-10 books a month is my max. Not sure why I ever thought I was going to be super-human in my reading abilities...
3. I was a more productive student and nurse. It's true. I'm in grad school for my Master's in Nursing Education and the balance just became impossible. My school work was starting to suffer because I would get so distracted on my phone. I did find myself picking up my phone and swiping to the folder I keep Instagram in and the only way I was successful was having the app deleted. That way I didn't have any notifications coming in and I didn't feel like I was missing anything. I was able to focus on writing papers and being on point at work without any distractions.
4. I'm never going to make everyone happy. And I just need to be okay with that. People will always be judging and I just need to not care. People have their generalizations and that's fine. You don't engage enough. You engage too much. You don't post enough. You post too many times a day. You don't follow enough people. You follow too many people. You don't post enough reviews. You post too many reviews how could you possibly read so fast. You can't ever win and I just have to not care. If you've followed me from the beginning and talked with me you know me and my intentions. I just have to get a thicker skin and not care anymore. I can't sacrifice my own mental health for Instagram. Having to type that sentence alone just reaffirms how ridiculous it is.
5. I enjoyed reading again. I got into that rut where I was reading so much for deadlines and not pleasure because of commitments I had made. I also like shiny, new things and felt I always needed to jump into reading what everyone else was. Not the best for a mood reader. I read a book this weekend and was able to really just settle in and enjoy it. The whole reason I started this account was to share my love of books. When reading, one of my most sacred pleasures and escapes begins to feel like a chore, time to reevaluate.
6. I slept better. Yup - this sounds weird but its true. I normally get in bed with my phone and catch up on everything on Instagram before bed. The blue light is not only horrible for your eyes in the dark (I KNOW) but as I mentioned my wrist has been taking a real beating from typing on my phone all the time. It was so freeing to just get in bed and just SLEEP.
7. I was happier. It's true. You like to think that something as ridiculous as Instagram wouldn't dictate your mood but it certainly does. You read all kinds of different things and it's easy to get caught up and let it take over. Being blissfully unaware sometimes is the way to go I swear.
8. My own worst enemy is me. I'm the one that puts so much pressure on myself. To take all the perfect photos and write the perfect reviews. Read all the books. Agree to post everything. Like I need to just relax and tone the Type A down. I'll never be perfect and neither will my account. This is not a job, it's a hobby. I'm not getting paid and I need to tone down my expectations of myself over a voluntary activity.
9. I need to work smarter not harder. I'm juggling wayyy too many accounts and I've made my blog way harder than it needs to be. I'm only going to keep updating my bookstagram and blog (and FB because I just auto-send stuff to it from IG). I used to have this beautiful static blog homepage that required all this time making all of these graphics to link reviews to. Not anymore. I've converted my homepage to a regular blog format so I can put up reviews quickly. And my Pinterest account? Going inactive on there for awhile - it's too hard to update. And let's just forget about Twitter all together.
10. The algorithm is just that, an ALGORITHM. I can't spend any more time stressing about how to "beat" it. You can't beat it, thats the whole point of an algorithm. Some days IG shows my posts to 30,000 people and other days it gets seen by 3,000 people. I have no control over this nor do I know how Instagram decides what kind of day its going to be. It doesn't matter what time I post, if I edit my post or if I change my hashtags. I can't keep fretting about something I actually have no control over and I need to stop deluding myself into thinking I have any control. Just typing that was freeing.
11. Tracking follows/unfollows is a waste of time. I used to have an app that tracked follows/unfollows/deleted accounts. Why? Who cares. If you want to follow me I'd love to talk to you. If not that's fine too. No one has time to track this and it only leads to unhappiness for me. Not anymore. That app is DELETED.
12. I'm going AMA once a week. Okay by that I mean I'm going off the grid. AMA is when a patient signs out of the hospital "against medical advice" and just leaves. I thought this would be a cheeky way of phrasing it since I'm a nurse. The day of the week will vary since I work rotating days/nights/weekends but I'll post in my stories the morning that I'm going AMA. Instagram will get deleted from my phone and I can catch up on everything the following day. I need one day a week to not care about social media and this is my way to do it for now.
If you've made it to the end of this blog post then BRAVO. If you are feeling stressed, tired, agitated and worn out from bookstagram, delete it from your phone for a few days. It's the best decision I've made in awhile. For once, I'm actually excited to log back in tonight and engage in a way that feels more on my own terms. If you're struggling, feel free to pop into my DMs and talk about it! I promise that taking a little space is the best thing I've done for myself in a very long time - try it!