WHAT I POSTED VS. WHAT WAS ACTUALLY HAPPENING IN FOUR OF MY INSTA PICS

Whether it’s a beautiful moment in a sunbeam you happen to capture on your phone, a purposefully crafted flat lay shot with a DSLR camera, or something sexy you make happen with self-timer — Instagram is all of the above.

My goal with my Instagram account these days is to make people think critically, foster connection and remind people the platform is a selection, not a reflection, of reality. Sometimes I hit the mark. Sometimes I’m a little too deep. Sometimes I have a little too much wine and hit post.

But at the core, if I post something it means I don’t want to forget that moment for some reason or another.

I wrote a post on my old blog deconstructing some of my Instagram pictures and I thought I’d do round two with new photos since my use of the app has changed a lot since then.


A big #mood

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What I was aiming for

It’s Saturday night and I’m feeling sassy. Maybe I’ve had a few glasses of wine, and I’m definitely going out. Might be a thirst trap (?) but it’s still classy so it passes as fashion focused.

Reality

Yep, this is a thirst trap. Not for anybody in particular, but holding it at arms length I guess I’d call it that. Sometimes when you are feeling yourself (and I definitely was because I had consumed two glasses of wine which is a lot for me) you get your girlfriends to be your personal paparazzi. I literally instructed my friend Sam to squat down lower because I’m 5’3 and my legs look like stumps if you take a photo of me dead on. I believe you’d say this is me “working the angles.”

Here’s the thing: I had made the effort to do my eyeshadow and put on a cute outfit and I didn’t want it to be wasted on the wedding *social I was going to. I briefly thought about making the caption something thoughtful but then I kept saying “that’s a mood,” and it sort of stuck.  I didn’t actually end up drinking the glass of wine in my hand.

*Side note if you are not from Manitoba: a social is where people drink for really cheap, dance, eat chips and salami on rye bread with mustard and buy raffle tickets all in a school gym or community club – not a fancy event. I was extremely overdressed.

Enjoy some outtakes for context.

 

Takeaway

This is not something I would typically post, but between the wine and the outfit — I was feelin’ myself. No shame in the game.

p.s. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck then it’s probably a duck. Same goes for thirst traps.

 

What I was aiming for

I’m spontaneous and fun! I spend my Sundays doing self-care activities and following my heart. I am carefree and independent.

Reality

This morning when I was about to start driving I put the keys in the car and started crying. I was fresh out of a breakup and emotionally fragile at the time and I knew I needed a change of scenery, so my parents lent me their car for the day.

I needed to be alone with my thoughts for a day and get some distance from my apartment. Being outside always makes me feel better and mends any wounds. It was really cold that day but I still went for a three-hour walk on the beach. I meditated on the pier and stared at birds. I walked around an empty tourist town. I went to the bar in town and ate fish and chips alone. On the way out of town, I stopped for gas and left my wallet in the bathroom so I had to drive back the next night to get it.

Takeaway

You have no idea why someone is doing what they are doing or what sort of place their vague artsy caption is coming from. Don’t assume.

 

What I was aiming for

I’m fashionable and I know how to roll with the punches and rock whatever look I’m serving that day. Also, look at that architecture!! I’m a bonAfide Instagrammer.

Reality

I hated my bangs. Like capital H hated them because they were so short. My friend Sam must’ve told me fifty times during this trip that my hair looked fine but for some stupid reason I wasn’t listening. I was feeling REALLY self-conscious, so I figured if I called attention to them nobody could say anything because I clearly already knew how weird they look???

Honestly even typing that out ^ makes me realize how crazy I am sometimes. Nobody cares in reality. Also I basically art directed this photo and it is very staged, but I’m not mad about it.

Takeaway

Not everyone on Instagram is as confident as they seem to be, including me. In fact, I’ll fully admit I care far too much what people think. I’m working on it.

What I was aiming for

Just a basic-ass selfie of me having fun with my friend at a sports-related event. I’m sure there are 1000 other photos posted that were similar to this one. Hockey!!!!

Reality

I was really struggling this day but I held it together and went out since my friend Michelle was only in town for 10 days and I didn’t want to bail. I was having a depressive episode and I had to let her know in advance I wasn’t feeling great, which was embarrassing. I ended up having a few beers which numbed the feelings for a while but I definitely had the booze blues the next day.

Takeaway

Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about, whether it’s internally or externally. I’ve noticed that women tend to get written off as ‘basic’ a lot whereas the label doesn’t tend to be applied to men as much. While it’s meant to be funny, I think it also sometimes implies that the person is one dimensional and incapable of deep thought and emotion — which isn’t true at all.


I’m trying to incorporate more honesty and transparency into everything I put out into the world. We all know Instagram isn’t a good reflection of reality, but a reminder never hurts.

What Comes Next has it’s own Insta page by the way and I always keep it real on there. Promise.

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THE IMPORTANCE & IMPACT OF THE PEOPLE YOU IDOLIZE

The people and content you consume has an impact on you, like it or not.

Mentors, heroes, career crushes, spirit animals, and/or people you admire on social media. Whatever you want to call them — these are the people you look up to. What do they say about you? As I’ve matured, the people I admire and the reasons I admire them have changed greatly, which I think is pretty normal.

The funny part is, I feel like I’ve been the same person all along but somehow, at one point, I got caught in the trap of idolizing people for their lifestyles, looks and social circles (or at least how those two things appear on social media). Not only did I idolize these people, but I tried to be like them.

It was like I kept trying to shove the glass slipper on my foot but the shoe just never fit right. The more I tried (even when I couldn’t afford to), the more I struggled with my identity and where I was at. I wasn’t happy, and I felt there was a constant battle going on inside me between forcing myself to fit into this ecosystem and being myself.

Little by little, I started putting down those heavy expectations that I had put on myself. I didn’t even realize how much they had been weighing on me and stunting me from my potential. Eventually I threw the glass slipper out the f*cking window and replaced it with a sneaker. I’ll let you extrapolate what that must’ve looked like in my life, but it took a longggggg freaking time y’all.

From time to time I still catch myself carrying some of that weight. I’m only human, and old habits die hard when these types of influences are everywhere. After all, lusting after social status is good for the economy. *COugh* Kardashians *couGH coUgh*

While some of what I’m talking about might seem obvious, it can actually be really hard to admit to yourself that the stuff you are consuming has an impact on you. Here’s an example: I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but I love watching Youtube videos. Last week I un-subscribed from no less than 20 channels. I finally realized that the lives of the people I watch on Youtube look nothing like my own, which is totally fine and people are entitled to do them, but I hit a point where I had to ask myself “why the HELL am I watching a vlog where someone talks about their $100 face cream in great detail?” Yet, for some reason I’ve mindlessly watched her videos for years.

If I don’t aspire to live like her — what’s the point? 

If you are taking in something that makes you feel less-than for whatever reason, shut that sh*t down. Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat — WHATEVER. Hold it at arms length and ask if it’s serving you to be looking at it.

The most important part of the transition, for me, was seeking out and finding new people to look up to that are living life authentically, passionately and with self-love. Who are unafraid of being different and working on themselves unapologetically. Who are making their own rules, or saying screw the rules altogether. Who are living the example and being brave in their own lives. Who are growing and changing constantly (just like me) and aren’t afraid to admit it. People I can relate to. People who accept me as I am.

They are now my friends. My peers. My family. My idols. My spirit animals (yup I’m one of those annoying people that still says that).

Go forth and find your true self in others you look up to. Or maybe a version of yourself you aspire to be (but not in an unhealthy way, yenno?). Don’t be afraid to explore why you admire them and work hard to cultivate that in yourself. Be around people who lift you up and make you proud to be who you are.


Remember: we are the sum, or average, of the five people we surround ourselves with the most. So don’t be afraid to invite someone you admire out to get a coffee.

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A LOVE LETTER TO ANYONE WHO STRUGGLES WITH SELF LOVE

I know how hard it is to have a lack of self-love, and I love you for it. I want you to love yourself for it too.

I bought a book a few years ago called ‘Unworthy: how to stop hating yourself’. The cover posed the question what would you do today if you didn’t despise yourself? I remember hiding the book from people when I would read it in public.

“If you’ve felt so unworthy, so unlovable, so alone for a long time, then to realize that maybe you can feel a different way about yourself actually makes some people incredibly sad. It feels like coming home — but coming home can unleash a great deal of sorrow. It’s a ‘missed-you-so-much, where-have-you-been’ situation.”

Anneli Rufus

My counsellor at the time told me she thought people might be surprised if they knew how I really felt about myself. I mean, it’s not like you can wear a lapel pin that says “I am full of shame, and I feel like a horrible person.”

To explain, I spent most of my life hating myself. I think the interchangeable saying would be saying I have very low self-esteem, but when I was looking for the book I found above, I Googled how to stop hating yourself.

If I had to describe what it’s like to have a total lack of self-esteem, I would say it’s like sentencing yourself to live in a cave — it’s all out there to experience, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it. You don’t deserve to see sunlight. You convince yourself this is where you belong, and that the world out there isn’t for you. Maybe you’ve gone out before and it made you want to never do it again. You hide yourself, horrified people will see how ugly you really are. You are both the jailor and the prisoner.

What does a lack of self-love look like?

A lack of worthiness can show itself so many different ways. Many of them might look like personality flaws, odd behaviours, or quirks on the surface.

  • Saying sorry too much, because you really are sorry you exist
  • Saying yes to everything, because you are afraid of what will happen if you say no
  • Avoiding choice and leaving your fate in the hands of others
  • Stunting your own growth and blunting your feelings, even the good ones
  • Struggling with vulnerability
  • Replaying the past and letting it dictate your present feelings
  • Driving your life into the ground with self destructive behaviour
  • Deflecting praise
  • Internalizing failure, shame, guilt and error
  • Staying in situations that are unhealthy or don’t make you happy (this also can look like being loyal to a fault)
  • Letting other people’s opinions dictate how you feel about yourself
  • Lashing out or closing down because of shame
  • Wanting things but denying yourself them
  • Getting mad at yourself for not liking yourself, and so forth

Any of these sound familiar?

First things first — these things are not your fault. These behaviours are learned from life experience. I don’t care what anybody says, if you’ve ever felt the pain of feeling worthless, that shit is horrible and equivalent to getting a tooth pulled with no freezing. We adapt to those pains. We act in response to that pain. Sometimes we’d do just about anything to avoid that pain (some of them are a protective mechanism to avoid further pain).

For people reading this who don’t know what this is like, it’s the difference between forgetting someone special’s birthday and thinking “oh shoot, I feel bad, I’ll make sure to send that person flowers and write it my calendar for next year,” and “I’m a shitty friend who isn’t there for the people I care about, I’m going to call them and apologize profusely for forgetting and try hard for the next month to make it up to them.”

Lol true story on my part, but yeah. You get the idea.

Now that I have hindsight, I look back at the things I did as a result of that pain I was causing myself, and I’m not terribly surprised I did them.

Awareness is half the battle. Once you can start recognizing these behaviours and how they impact your life, change comes next. I highly recommend you call in the big guns for change: a counsellor/therapist/psychologist will definitely help get you there faster if your resources will allow for it (work with whichever works best for you).

Even now that my life and feelings toward myself have changed drastically, and I have a very high level of awareness of my self-hatred habits, I haven’t been able to kick them all the way out just yet. And that’s ok. It takes a lot of time and a lot of work.

But we’ll get there.

These thoughts and actions aren’t YOU

It doesn’t matter how we get in the cave, or how deep we are in. Everyone has their own challenges and experiences that drive us in there. I am telling you that no matter what has happened to you, or what you have done, or what has been done to you, you don’t deserve to be in there.

This is going to sound really weird, but every time I feel myself retreating back into the cave, I ask “have I robbed someone lately? hit a pedestrian? lit a house on fire?” Sometimes we feel the need to back in for the smallest of things, but these phrases help put things in perspective sometimes when I think I’ve done something I feel like I’ll  never forgive myself for.

This whole blog is about the moment you step out of the cave into the blinding sun and it’s so beautiful it brings you to your knees.

I remember the moment I realized I could feel differently about myself. I sobbed uncontrollably, not only because I was mourning all the years I’ve spent “in the cave” but also because I had never had hope like that before.

Just because society screams at you to be thinner, smarter, manlier, anything-er doesn’t mean you can’t come out of the cave as you are. It actually means you NEED to come out the cave as you are.

I want to share something I read in that book I mentioned earlier.

“Our true selves are the selves we were before we twisted, bent, and beat ourselves into the shapes we had to take in order to please others: the shapes that we hate. Our true selves are the selves we would have been had no one tried to break or shame or change us. Our true selves are what those who actually love us see in us. Our true selves are who we have always been, even if they have been in hiding all this time. Our true selves are who we will, in that sheer blue zone above self-loathing, always be.”
Anneli Rufus, Unworthy: How to Stop Hating Yourself

The true you is in there somewhere. When you do come out, you be a force to be reckoned with. In the meantime, don’t hate yourself more for it. You’ll get there.

Accepting your experiences

The time you spent hating on yourself? You’ll never get it back. But it taught you a lot, created some really special traits within you, and made your goals and purpose so much stronger. It is not lost time.

Once you realize that you’re worth fighting for, you’ll never be able to un-realize it. The journey from there is a long game full of rediscovery, mistakes and triumphs. Back sliding into the old habits that are well worn grooves in our brains. Charging forward and standing up for ourselves in small ways.

Everything I’ve talked about doing in this blog — finding hobbies, making new friends, learning lessons, letting myself feel sad and so much more — have all been part of my process of coming out of that cave. It has literally been life saving, in every way. Even this blog has been an act of self-love in the face of raging self-doubt.

Just by having a blog, I have become vulnerable. It is terrifying and worth it. Every time I post something, I remind myself that this is for me — as much as it’s for the internet to read.

What have you done for yourself like this? Hold it tight. Appreciate it. Celebrate it. Don’t let anyone take it from you or make you feel differently about it.

What will you start doing? Something to ponder on for your new years resolutions.

Learning to knit won’t undo years of trauma or f*cked up shit, but these things subconsciously say to your brain, “it’s time to start rebuilding regardless of those things.” Every time you try something new you show yourself that anything is possible.

Being good as a result of feeling bad, and asking for a hand up

You can grow positive traits as a result of being someone who hasn’t always felt good about themselves. You might become more compassionate and empathetic, never take a moment of joy for granted, be introspective and maybe “a little too deep/intense” for some people (and that’s ok) and so many other good things.

I am not claiming to be on the other side of self-hatred. More like, I have come out of the cave, cried in happiness a bunch, stumbled around and wondered what the hell to do, and now I’m slowly starting the process of hiking away. It does pull me back from time to time, but the more tools, lessons and tricks I have up my sleeve the better shape I’m in to run further away.

While the war is fought inside your head, having people there is crucial. They can’t fight it for you, but they can be a huge influence on your mindset.

People who can see this struggle to improve in you, and can appreciate it, are worth keeping around.

People who are empathetic and will be vulnerable in return are worth keeping around.

People who hold you accountable to the person you want to be and don’t let you talk shit about yourself or about others are worth keeping around.

People who make you want to love yourself more are worth keeping around.

There is so much self-love in going through the process of rebuilding your self-esteem, even if it doesn’t feel that way. There is love in realizing and acknowledging things need to change. There is love in every small and defiant act of vulnerability. There is so much love in self-compassion and care.

And you deserve it all.


While this post was based on the literature I’ve read and my personal experience, I recognize that everyone’s experiences and situations are very different and I have privilege in being able to afford a counsellor, books and so forth. I wish you all the best on your personal journey, whatever it may look like.

I hope that one day you’ll be able to look back at old journal entries and realize how much you’ve changed. It’s an amazing feeling.

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WHY IS IT SO HARD TO MAKE FRIENDS AS AN ADULT?

Some nuggets of wisdom, some questions I’ve asked myself and things I’ve learned.

Three years ago I wrote an entire blog post on the topic of making friends in your 20s but deleted it before it ever saw the light of day. I was so concerned people would think I was the social-equivalent of a skunk, and that I would just repel even more people by sharing my struggle.

Side note: did you know that skunks live as solitary animals other than in the winter when they tolerate the company of other skunks for warmth??? I digress.

The point is, I know what it’s like to want to have more friends but not know how to build a girl gang. I recall very clearly a conversation I had with my two oldest friends Talula and Jocelyn before I started class at Red River College. I believe I was 20 at the time. The way I saw it, they both had multiple groups of friends they could float between for a good night out. I had them and that was about it. I was somewhat jealous, and I expressed my frustration.

No new friends 🙅 // Lots of good beer 🍻 @samanthassamson @micheperron

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Was I weird? No, they assured me. I was just an acquired taste. I’d make friends in college. Sure enough, I met a few people in college I still keep in touch with to this day (see photo above).

If you’ve ever been scrolling social media and wondered: “Am I the only person who doesn’t have a f*cking posse of people to party with every weekend?” You are not alone. 

I am now two full years out from post-secondary education and am FINALLY figuring out how to make new friends. Take it from someone who thought they had the social skills of an animal that shoots stink out of it’s ass, it’s possible.

bambi-skunk-gif-13553-14017-hd-wallpapers.jpg.gif

I thought I’d share some nuggets of wisdom, some questions I’ve asked myself and things I’ve learned about making friends.

What kind of barriers are you putting up?

Looking back now, I acknowledge there were certain things that kept me from making new friends at various points in my life.

  • I had next to no confidence, so I always sort of assumed people were just talking to me just to be nice. I questioned their motives which IS SO DUMB.
  • I had a bad habit of avoiding making new friends because I dated a lot (live and learn amiright?).
  • I purposely avoided sports and group type activities.
  • I was really and truly too brutally awkward for words because I second guessed myself so much when I was 18 and 19. I cringe when I think back to some of the stuff I used to say to people I liked and wanted to be friends with.

What kind of people do you want to surround yourself with?

It has been said many times that we are the average of the five people we most associate with. Do you want those people to be responsible, kind, smart adults who are pursuing their passions? Or are you gonna hang on to those people who treat you poorly and wring you dry by encouraging all the behaviour you’re trying desperately to grow out of?

Make the choice, you are 100% in control of this. I’ll lean on my favourite quote here and say “participate in your own life!”

If you say you’re gonna do it, do it!

“Oh Becky, so nice seeing you, we should grab a drink sometime? Next week and this week are like super busy for me but maybe sometime before {insert whatever season it is} is over?”

Becky likely sees right through your wishy-washy bullshit. That kind of non-commital talk makes you look flaky, but for some reason I feel like…we all do it?

Trying this next time I see an old friend! 😂😂😂 @tylermagz

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Why not just say – it was nice meeting/seeing you! *awkward pause* and be on your way. No need to pretend. Also, if you take their card or something and forget to email them then realize later – that’s on you. It’s never too late though….be sincere, apologize and give it a go. If they don’t reply, cut your losses and take the L. At least you tried.

Are you actually putting yourself out there?

REJECTION SUCKS. This is not a new concept.

However, if you actually want to make plans with someone, you can’t be afraid to follow up. If they don’t hit you back, no harm done, at least you tried! Don’t be put off just because someone is busy.

You’ll usually be able to tell if the person is making an effort to hang out, or if they are blowing you off because they never really expected you’d follow up in the first place and they are just trying to be nice. Insert upside down smiley face emoji here.

Are you actively trying to meet new people?

This is the part where you’ll need to talk to strangers and maybe make an ass of yourself a bit. Find comfort in the fact that at least you’ll be talking to strangers who like the same stuff you do. For example, I met so many awesome people I really enjoy seeing every week at the bootcamp I go to, which gave me the confidence to start two book clubs.

On the professional development side, I make a point of using social media as a connecting point rather than as a way of catching up on what everyone from high school is up to. I’ve met some really awesome people (who you might see featured on this blog soon enough muahaha) by reaching out to them on Instagram, and asking them to grab a coffee — no shame in the game. I slide into the DMs in a non-creepy way, I swear.

I also am trying to go to more industry networking events (to meet other PR people), and joining things like the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Winnipeg program to meet other likeminded people. I’m very fortunate to have an employer who appreciates that I like doing professional development type stuff, and wants to support me. Never hurts to ask!


Oh by the way, I am still friends with Talula and Jocelyn. See Insta above.

This probably doesn’t need to be said, but if you’re already a person who has a tough time making friends, don’t stress about the number. Besides, come wedding time your wedding party will be smaller and save you some paper. Yaaaaaaas chocolate fountain here I come.

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HOW I’M REPLACING SERIAL MONOGAMY WITH SELF-LOVE

After too many relationships in a row, I decided to stop dating for a year as a new years resolution. Then I talked about it on national radio. (Originally posted Jan. 2018)

Did I ever, in a million years, think I would be writing a piece like this for the internet to read?

Hell to the NO. Hard no. Absolutely not.

I do my best to be vulnerable when I write blog posts. I believe the most relatable and real writing is a byproduct of having the courage to be seen in an authentic way.

With that being said, that doesn’t mean it isn’t scary. While my words seem confident on the screen, that doesn’t mean my hands don’t shake when I write them. Fear still crashes over me in waves, I just try not to let it carry me away.

But nothing could have prepared me for the vulnerability hangover I had after my interview on CBC’s Now or Never.

Ify & Raegan 2
Ify Chiwetelu! And me! At CBC Manitoba! AM I DREAMING?!

Let’s rewind to January 1, 2018.

I wrote down a bunch SMART goals for 2018 in my journal, but there were really only two that stuck out to me as resolutions:

  1. Do as much dangerous stuff as humanly possible (too bad I can’t go BASE jumping in Winnipeg).
  2. Don’t date.

The first resolution I shared with people who asked me if I had any resolutions because I thought it was funny. The second one I only shared with a few friends and family, and when I did, I got a lot of mixed reactions which made me nervous.

I never had the intention of getting on a national radio show and telling my story, but here I am. Telling you to listen to my interview with the amazing Ify Chiwetelu, still absolutely terrified.

//www.cbc.ca/i/caffeine/syndicate/?mediaId=1157120067599

My BFF (who is a producer at CBC), told Trevor and Ify about my blog and my resolution. My immediate reaction was heck ya! Cool! This is an opportunity to be vulnerable in a new format!

Then the dread set in.

I know from experience that if there’s something people have strong opinions about — it’s dating. And love. And sex. It’s also something I’ve historically had a lot of trouble with. For me, there’s generally been a lot of pain, struggle and embarrassment around the topic.

A lot of, “what kind of person can’t be alone for longer than four months?”

As much as the interview is about abstaining from dating, to me, the entire resolution is really about what I’m choosing to do with this opportunity to be alone.

To be clear, I have no regrets about anything that has happened up until this point. I’m just taking stock of where I stand and deciding where I want to go from here.

I have no hard and fast rules around this whole thing (other than staying off dating apps) and that really seems to bother people. Rules, and labels, are often created or used so others can feel more comfortable. For once in my life, I’ve given myself full permission to not give a flying fudge about what anyone thinks about this particular adventure I’m embarking on.

Everyone’s gotta make decisions based on where they’re at and what they’ve gone through — I’m just doing me. Please don’t leave comments describing hypothetical situations asking what I’d do. First of all, my mom has probably already asked. Second, I’ll say the same thing I said to her: “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.”

When it comes to dating and how I see myself, I’ve carried enough shame in my life to sink a ship. That shit is heavy. I’m ready to put it down.

You can read the blog post I wrote for the CBC blog  here.


I don’t really know how to end this, so I’ll just say that this song says it all.

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