Falling Into the Instagram Comparison Trap

Alright, you guys. Let’s chat about Instagram today, because it’s Friday and I’m feeling a bit feisty. Oh Instagram… I love you and I hate you.

Instagram is one of those social platforms that’s just so addicting that we can’t help but to use it. And everyone is on it – your dad, your siblings, your boss, and maybe even your grandmom. We all love sharing snippets of our lives with the world. Especially the really good stuff. 

But if you’re a blogger or use Instagram for business purposes, you’ve probably cursed the platform more than once. I get it. It’s frustrating to grow on Instagram organically, and it’s disheartening to see so many influencers buying followers to get ahead of the game. {Side note: Instagram, if you’re listening, please do a sweep soon and delete bots and fake accounts! It’ll really showcase all of those influencers who tried cheating the system!}. 

I personally haven’t mastered Instagram by any means. I don’t have tens of thousands of followers, and I don’t always have great content to post. In fact, I’ve been posting less because there are times when I don’t feel like my photo is “Instagram worthy.” UGH. Just typing that out seems so stupid. So this post isn’t going to be offering you tips and tricks to increase your following. If you’d like to read some awesome tips, my friend Jess just did a post about it this week! Go check it out. 

I wanted to use this post today to talk about something called the comparison trap. I was inspired to write this after seeing one of my favorite bloggers, Brighton the Day, do a post about this topic earlier this week. The comparison trap occurs when you’re constantly looking at the seemingly picture perfect lives of others on social media, leading you to feel less worthy or not good enough. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, I’m sure that you’ve fell victim to the comparison trap at least a few times, if not more just by looking through your Instagram feed. As Brighton mentioned in her post, social media isn’t REAL life

You see photos of bloggers in the cutest outfits with the most voluminous hair, holding a bouquet of flowers in front of a random building downtown, on a Wednesday afternoon. Who wouldn’t want to look like that galavanting around the city on a random workday? But I promise you, that photo was most likely taken at an earlier time, and it probably took that blogger a dozen or more shots in order to capture the perfect one. And that’s just the time it takes to get the photo to begin with. Then, it probably took her at LEAST 45 minutes editing the photo, creating a witty caption, and strategically tagging accounts and posting hashtags. It’s a lot of work to create the aesthetic and story you want to portray on social media. Please don’t get me wrong – I’m not discounting this at all. 

What I want to begin doing is showcasing a bit more behind the scenes on my feed and in my InstaStories, and being more real with my captions. Enough already with the photos of flowers perfectly arranged in purses. Like who really travels around like that?! I’m not saying that I’m going to let my feed become a complete mess – I still want to showcase beautiful things – but I want to mix in some realness too. 

To start things off, I thought it would be fun to go back through a few of my Instagram photos and rewrite the captions to give you a more accurate depiction of what’s going on. Haha, let’s see…

The truth behind some of my Instagram photos

Truth: This was towards the end of a morning of shooting for a sponsored campaign, and Pete would not sit still for this photo. I’m surprised we even got this shot. In 99% of the other photos we took, Pete was barking, lunging out of my arms, and being an overall pain. The smile was forced and all I wanted to do was put on pajamas and watch Netflix. 

Truth: We shot this photo at Valley Forge Park on a really busy weekend morning. There were dozens of people in the parking lot staring at Bryan trying to take my photo. I remember trying to describe to Bryan the photo I needed him to take for this. I said something like “The vibe I’m going for is that I’m casually chilling in the trunk of my car with some essentials before a long workout. It needs to look natural though. Maybe I’ll prop my foot up so it looks better.” 

Truth: None of those ingredients were actually used for any real recipe. They were simply props to give the illusion that I was baking up something delicious in the kitchen that morning. I also remember that it was really dark and cloudy that day and it was difficult to get good light for photos. We ended up shooting for over an hour and maybe got 5-6 decent shots {after editing!} for my blog post. 

Truth: Ahh, this photo. I remember this day. I didn’t even eat the avocado toast, because it was so soggy by the time I could enjoy it. It took me a solid 15 minutes to assemble, and then another 15 minutes or so to take a photo for Instagram. Because if you don’t take a photo, it obviously didn’t happen! I ended up remaking the toast for Bryan and using a third of the avocado shown. Sometimes pretty food isn’t necessarily the most delicious. 

// Alright you guys. I’m dying to know your thoughts on the whole Instagram comparison trap thing. Would you be interested in seeing more behind the scenes/real images in your feed? Comment below and give me some ideas on what you want to see more of! 



  1. Bridgett
    October 13, 2017 / 9:24 am

    I love this post! So refreshing to see the reality behind the ‘gram.

    • October 13, 2017 / 4:14 pm

      Thanks Bridg!

  2. October 13, 2017 / 9:42 am

    omg THANK YOU for this post!! I get caught up in the Instagram comparison trap all the time and feel bad because I don’t have thousands of followers. Sometimes it’s so disheartening to “try for the perfect Instagram” and then it doesn’t get as many likes/comments as you would hope. But then I’m like–wait a second, *this doesn’t really matter in the long run.* Of course I respect bloggers/influencers who put a lot of time and effort into their Intagram feeds, but sometimes I need to step away and realize that there’s more to life than getting the perfect Insta. Thank you for your honesty, it was so refreshing! xo

  3. October 13, 2017 / 4:12 pm

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this post and for your honesty!! I can relate on so many levels. I’m so guilty of falling and playing into the Instagram comparison trap. You rock for this post.

    • October 13, 2017 / 4:14 pm

      Thanks Camille. It’s so important to show some realness every once in a while on Instagram!

  4. October 13, 2017 / 6:14 pm

    Great post Nicole! I feel like it’s so hard not to compare your life with the pretty Instagram-worthy life. Most of what goes on behind-the-scenes of my best Instagram photos is, “Omg so sweaty!” and “I’m so hungry!” and telling my husband, remember I’m casually looking away, laughing at how effortless my life is, and now take 90 photos but oh wait, the first one was the best lol. But it’s crazy addicting to look at those beautiful photos, yours included!

  5. October 14, 2017 / 11:58 am

    I heart this post real hard. It can be different for guy bloggers – I can’t imagine the competition for female bloggers! – but still, I look around and I’m like there is NO WAY that is your life. I have absolutely held back photos that were real life but not real good quality. So today I posted a photo that isn’t great but represents what I was doing. I want to enjoy my kids and not try to get a great photo and those two aren’t usually cooperative.
    Love the behind the scenes intel.

    • October 17, 2017 / 3:51 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the post! I’m sure the pressure is just as high for guy bloggers – especially the fashion ones!

  6. October 17, 2017 / 2:10 pm

    yes, and yes. My insta will never be fully “optimized” because I will always have those in the moment photos that arent perfect. i refuse to be 100% scheduled damnet!

    • October 17, 2017 / 3:50 pm

      completely agree, Jessica! sometimes it’s a GOOD thing to share the everyday shots!

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