An honest moment with Instagram.

on September 23, 2014 in Gal Stuff with 26 comments by


Today I sat in the car, waiting for a prescription to be filled, and I began to edit a photo on instagram.

It was a selfie, but not a duckface one (just to be clear). Just a half-face one, mainly more meant to show off the cardigan I am wearing.

I edited and moved and filtered until it looked just right- that look like I didn’t realize a picture was being taken. “Oh, can you even SEE me in this picture? Weird.” … even though I had retaken the picture seven times.


I worked and reworked the text- something funny about Tuesdays-  and once I had done all I could to the picture to make it look great and the words were just funny enough but not too dad joke-y, I almost posted it.

But something felt off.

In Christianese, I felt a check in my spirit.

In normal talk, something on my insides felt weird.

I thought about last Sunday night, how a mom had asked me why her daughter cares about how many likes she gets on instagram and why that is “the number one priority to teenagers.” (Her words, not mine.)

And I realized the thing in me is the same thing in that teen girl and in moments, is probably the same thing in many of us.

I was asking the internet to tell me I’m pretty.

Not intentionally, mind you, and that is probably the line between teenager and adult. (Self-awareness and all.) Many teen girls today are openly saying LOOK AT ME AND TELL ME IF I’M PRETTY, INTERNET. Most adults aren’t.

(In lots of ways, we have the same itch, it’s only the scratching that is different.)

Somewhere deep in me, as I worked with that picture, my heart was screaming out

Will they tell me I am enough?

Am I pretty?

What will they think?

Will I feel better?

… and once I heard those questions, once I really listened to what was going on in me, I stopped.

I deleted the instagram picture.

I put my phone down.

I asked God to open my eyes to what was going on in my heart. What is missing? What is hurting? Why am I needing the approval of others today more than usual?

It’s not about the selfie- I’m not hating on selfies. I like them. It’s not about the picture. It’s about what is going on in your heart when you take it and post it.

I can’t know that about you, or the teen girl next to you, or the people I follow on instagram.

But I can know it about me.

And today? My heart was in the wrong place- not a bad place, just the wrong place. It was a little lost, as this Annie tends to be.

God and I talked it over- I knew fairly quick the root of what is going on. I said my hurts, my fears, and how tired my heart feels. So we talked about it until I felt the icky heavy feeling start to dissolve off my heart.

I pulled down my rear view mirror until I could see myself and I said, “Annie. You are beautiful. You don’t need the internet to tell you what you already know is true.” Because me and positive self-talk are buds.

And then I posted a picture of nutritional yeast. You’re welcome.

And that is my honest moment with instagram today.

Be kind to yourself and be honest with yourself today, friend.

. . . . .


  1. posted on Sep 23, 2014 at 5:38 PM  |  reply

    Oh oh oh Annie girl. Thank you.

  2. posted on Sep 23, 2014 at 5:42 PM  |  reply

    Excellent post. Thank you.

  3. posted on Sep 23, 2014 at 6:21 PM  |  reply

    love you friend. love this

  4. Kelly Simile
    posted on Sep 23, 2014 at 6:30 PM  |  reply

    Thank you. Your words always seem to pop up right at the moment when I need to see them. Praise God!

  5. posted on Sep 23, 2014 at 6:33 PM  |  reply

    Spot on. As a teacher, with students that have iPads in their hands and phones in their pockets, I see that every day. They spend more time taking the perfect selfie and worrying about what others think about their posts or their pictures. But I do the same. I worry when no one liked my funny post or my cute instagram pictures. I want to be liked, approved of and enough for the world. Thanks for the reminder that those things will never be enough for me.

  6. Bobbie
    posted on Sep 23, 2014 at 8:38 PM  |  reply

    SO true, Annie! Thank you, God bless!

  7. posted on Sep 23, 2014 at 9:05 PM  |  reply

    I love this super-honest post, Annie. I find myself doing this in areas I want affirmation in (“Aren’t I carefree? Look how messy my house is and how happy these children are?” while I work on the funny lines and the kids meltdown in the background) I’m learning to just put the phone/distractions away when I’m craving that affirmation. It’s hard, huh? I love how you went to the root of it, rather than just distract with something else. I learn lots from you. Keep on, beautiful lady.

  8. Merideth
    posted on Sep 23, 2014 at 9:19 PM  |  reply

    You are so right Annie. it is not just teens who do this. I struggle too with what others think of me, and getting their approval. Thanks for reminding me of how wrong that thinking really is. You are so beautiful Annie! Love you friend!

  9. posted on Sep 23, 2014 at 9:20 PM  |  reply

    You’re amazing. I know you didn’t write this to hear that but I absolutely love your heart. I love that you put exactly what your heart was telling you. You didn’t bash selfies or people who take selfies, you wrote about your personal struggle to feel loved by the world. We all struggle with that. I too think about this while taking a selfie. You’re not alone friend. Selfie or no selfie, filter or no filter, you are beautiful inside & out.

    • posted on Sep 23, 2014 at 9:22 PM  |  reply

      And as a sister in Christ, thank you for sharing. I know I’m not alone. 🙂

  10. posted on Sep 23, 2014 at 11:35 PM  |  reply

    Yep. I might be 20 years past that teen girl, but dang if I don’t still want the internet to tell me I’m pretty.

  11. posted on Sep 24, 2014 at 10:24 AM  |  reply

    Gosh, I sure like you.

  12. posted on Sep 24, 2014 at 10:44 AM  |  reply

    Annie, I’ve been feeling that check, lately. And I’m taking any and all checks a lot more seriously. Loved the raw honesty of your experience, shared here with us. Thank you!!!

  13. Brandi
    posted on Sep 24, 2014 at 12:36 PM  |  reply

    I can tell you with certainty that I was meant to see this before teaching my teen girls’ class tonight. Over the last couple of weeks we have discussed bullying and cyber bullying and are currently transitioning into self esteem and encouraging esteem in others. On my schedule for tonight I had fully planned on discussing paying forward the message of “you are a beautiful person” to others. After reading your post I realized a couple of things:
    1- I got a great new haircut this week, which I posted a photo of immediately. It was well received on social media.
    2- I need to be very specific on my “Make others feel beautiful” challenge. I do not want to accidentally encourage them in the wrong way, thus adding to the pressures that you mentioned. Naturally, I will emphasize inner beauty and self worth, just as I had planned, but I will absolutely be very mindful with my guidance of going so on social media communication. Thank you!

  14. posted on Sep 24, 2014 at 5:09 PM  |  reply

    This post really resonated with me. I used to do fashion posts on my blog and post #ootd photos on Instagram. And, by fashion posts, I mean, photos of me in normal – but fun – outfits. At first, these posts helped transform my insecurities. I felt like God was calling me to put myself out there and not just hide behind the words I was writing. Then, something changed for me. It was as if my motives had changed. The photos had become a way for me to gain approval. So, I decided to stop doing them. That’s the story of my “check in the spirit” moment. 🙂

  15. Rebekah
    posted on Sep 24, 2014 at 8:50 PM  |  reply

    Thank you for sharing. I appreciate how you were sensitive to God’s Spirit. It’s often an issue of the heart. Our Abba Father is so gentle and loving. He desires to bring deeper freedom and healing into our hearts and lives. He desires that our identity, significance, beauty, and worth flow from Him. His love defines us!

  16. posted on Sep 25, 2014 at 7:38 AM  |  reply

    I so love you, Annie Downs. I love how raw you are when you write and that you don’t hide behind your words. You make girls feel like they can be honest with themselves and others. I cannot sing your praises loud enough. God has gifted you to reach this generation and you can’t see me right now, but I’m standing and clapping loudly, telling Him He did magnificent when He created you.

  17. Hillary
    posted on Sep 25, 2014 at 11:28 AM  |  reply

    Thanks for this Annie. I’ve been thinking about similar things lately too. You see, my Facebook profile picture is a little old by FB standards (way back in June, what?!). And it’s so easy to change. Just take a selfie at the right angle, right in the morning when my hair and makeup still look acceptable, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I guess this is a nice little validation that perhaps my spirit is being spoken to and that my amazing makeup-less photo from my week long hiking adventure this summer is still just as beautiful as any altered photo I can take on instagram. 🙂

  18. posted on Sep 25, 2014 at 2:51 PM  |  reply

    Annie, this is wonderful. Thank you for sharing your story and being brave!

  19. posted on Sep 25, 2014 at 4:55 PM  |  reply

    Thank you for being vulnerable and honest. Also, nutritional yeast is the bomb.

  20. Audrey Shae
    posted on Sep 25, 2014 at 8:45 PM  |  reply

    Wow. You really get me, Annie.

  21. posted on Sep 26, 2014 at 8:21 PM  |  reply

    Thanks for being so vulnerable and honest! I love your books, by the way. I’ve passed them on to all the girls in my small group 🙂

  22. Leigh
    posted on Sep 27, 2014 at 8:30 PM  |  reply

    Annie. This is great. This is me. This is why I (a 30 yr old) went from posting a few times a week on Instagram to once in the past 11 months. (And that post was on an important day but one in which I also wanted some affirmation.) I felt that head and heart space HARD and knew, for me, that I had to pull back. Thanks for putting this into words!

  23. posted on Oct 08, 2014 at 7:21 AM  |  reply

    You had me smiling all the way through this because, of course, this is me too. And yeah, I’ve felt that nudge more often and it’s a good one. Thanks for saying the “wrong place” doesn’t mean bad, just wrong. For me. Thank you for your grace-filled words.

  24. posted on Oct 18, 2014 at 10:40 PM  |  reply

    […] Why You Should Think Before You Post That Selfie […]

  25. posted on Nov 06, 2014 at 9:22 AM  |  reply

    So real and transparent Annie. I love it. I am actually reading through Joyce Meyer’s book, Approval Addiction. I didn’t know I was an “addict” until about 6 months ago. If you haven’t read it, I’d highly recommend it. Loving your blog, keep up the good work!

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