I was approached to write this article after I shared a photo to Instagram of my tear-and-mascara-streaked face during a creative meltdown. I was working on an illustration project, and I was totally blocked.
I slammed my fists on the desk, cursed and cried, and ruined my favorite marker in a paper-stabbing frenzy.
*A bit of background: My name is Amanda. I am a freelance graphic designer and illustrator. I did not go to art or design school. I’ve learned on the job and through a daily art project I created called The Year of Making.*
So in that moment I felt like a failure. A fraud. Like I had no business making art.
I could’ve gone to bed, gotten over it, and made something decent the next day. But in that moment, I felt a pull to share.
I knew it was risky. I thought I might lose followers or be called out for ‘over sharing’. But the feedback immediately made me realize I did the right thing:
“Thank you for showing us who you are.”
“Thank you for sharing the real view.”
“It’s like you took a peek inside my own mind!”
We all know this, but I’ll say it anyway:
And thank god for that. A creative life without highs and lows would be boring. Tough times give you depth. They make you real.
This article is not about shaming anyone who shares beautifully-curated content. It is a reminder that there is more to a life than any photo can convey. A picture is worth a thousand words, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
There is nothing wrong with sharing our mountain-top moments. We should be proud of our accomplishments, our art, our spouses, our love of simple pleasures like morning coffee or a weekend in the backcountry.
The danger comes when we ravenously and mindlessly consume snapshots of other people’s high points. (I call this the ‘like, scroll, like, scroll’.) We lose sight of reality. We start comparing. We forget that there is a real life and real person behind the screen.
I believe that we are at a tipping point in social media. I am bored of picture-perfect, and many of my friends feel the same. Personally, I want to follow folks and brands who tell stories. Who let me in a little sometimes. Who have personality. Who dive a bit deeper than just a pretty landscape or breakfast platter.
If we use social media to connect — to check in on one another and share real life stuff — not just ‘like, scroll…’, it’s a powerful tool for real human connection.
You don’t need to share intimate details of a family feud or break up, but perhaps the next time you post, give us a peek into what’s really going on. You’re a real person. I’m a real person. We are both imperfect and each unique. Say what’s real and tell us your story.
Amanda Sandlin is an artist and entrepreneur in New Zealand. She’s the creator and voice behind The Year of Making and makes videos about travel, adventure, and art. Learn more about her at amandasandlin.com, on Instagram @amandsandlin, and on her Youtube channel.