I’m gonna be real honest here. I’ve been having a hard time with social media lately.

It honestly all started when Milly was born. Before I had a baby, I swore that I’d never be one of those annoying moms who posted a million terrible photos of her kids all day long. (Sorry, moms… it’s just how I honestly felt.) But when she was born, I had an unexpected reaction to social media: I immediately became super protective about sharing her with others. I wanted to keep her all mine in real life, not to be cheapened by likes or comments. I just wanted her all to myself, and I became a protective mama bear. It solved my problem of not over-sharing, but then I found myself paralyzed when I did want to share.

Meanwhile, all of these beautiful fine art film photographers only started posting film on their insta-feeds: a beautiful balance of portraits and details all within the same color scheme. It has almost become a phenomenon – social media is no longer “social,” but purely a business marketing tool. And I so get that! I like to follow people with pretty Instagrams. However, I felt conflicted because that’s not me, and sometimes I just wanna share my heart on insta.

So there I was, in a 4 month maternity leave, not working very much and not wanting to post baby pictures very much either. When I went back to work, all of my priorities and loves and inspiration were a mishmash, and I didn’t know how to share anymore.

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Here are the thoughts that constantly ran (and often still run) through my head:

Am I over sharing? Am I becoming that annoying mom? Who cares what people think! This is my life now and I love Milly and want to share her with everyone! But I want to protect her, so I’m not going to post this one. This one is just for me. This is weird. I’m being weird. I’m a mama, but I still want others to think I’m business savvy. I’m over thinking this. Will I still book weddings if I’m not posting only-film-jaw-dropping images like all the other “fine art photographers” out there? I need to post consistent images. I need to filter my feed. I don’t care about my feed! I want to be me and post what I want to post! But that’s not wise with business. What the heck am I doing.

Most of last year, I found myself completely stuck. I cannot tell you how many times I started an instagram – photo complete, comment complete, and then I just never posted it. I couldn’t ever tap the share button. To be honest, I’m still feeling a little stuck now. I’ll go days on end without instagramming anything, and then I’ll get super inspired and have a posting party. I would fast from social media to get my mind and spirit right, (and to be more productive), but then I could never get back in the groove with it.

I also wondered if I should separate my “business” from “personal” accounts. Several of my good friends have, and they love it. I have thought long and hard about it, and I am a big fan of boundaries, so I really considered it. But ultimately for me, I came to the decision that 1. it’s more work and time than I really want to invest and 2. If you follow me, you’re gonna have to follow all of me. Not just part of my life. I want to be free to be me, and while I do love pretty feeds, I like following people who share about the real ups and downs of life more.

This is kindof stupid, right? To put this much thought into social media? I digress…

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After realizing this was a “thing” I started reading and searching and looking around me for answers.

I read this blogpost by Michelle Gardella about Instagram and wanted to yell PREACH! Michelle wrote about one time when someone recognized her from her Instagram… “And then I felt a huge bolt of shame wash through me, as this woman walked away, because in real life, we aren’t as awesome as we are on instagram. I felt shame for being real life us…” It’s true and really sad. I’ve felt that way too. There have been a few times when people have recognized me from my Instagram account and I look… less than. One time it happened one the side of a mountain while I was camping and smelly with no make up. True story. But I’m realizing that people love to connect with REAL, not perfect. So reading this blogpost makes me want to break all the rules and just post whatever I want – my real life – all the time.

I’m constantly inspired by my friend Lara who has beautiful, healthy boundaries with social media, and for the past 3 years has not looked at it on the weekends. She makes me want to do the same – not post on weekends, and incorporate it into part of my work week.

I’m also inspired by my friend Jess Connolly who speaks truth and life through her Instagram, all days of the week, whenever God tells her to speak. I love the truth that she has to share. She makes me want to do just that. To not be legalistic but to be free to look at it and post whenever I want. Jess inspires me because she does not fight against the current of technology in our culture, but instead rolls with it and preaches Jesus in that place. Her Instagram and blog were huge sources of ministry and inspiration to me when I was on maternity leave.

I realized after watching all these women and reading their thoughts and living out my own confusing feelings, I had to come up with SOMETHING FOR ME. I couldn’t do all of these things because they were all slightly different. I needed some sort of direction, where I can find a peace and a purpose.

So I decided, as part of our Christmas dinner as an NRP Team, we would sit and hash out and write down our own personal Social Media Mission Statements.

It was so much harder and it took so much longer than any of us thought it would! Little did I know, every person on my team was wrestling with this in some way or another. We were trying to decide this balance – how to stay active on social media, how to take breaks, how to be professional while being personal too, how to be a light for the Lord without being preachy, how to not get sucked into the comparison trap, how to be ourselves, how to be photographers and post beautiful images, how to also be wives and mamas and believers, how to be relational, how to connect, how to make a kingdom difference, and how to get and give enjoyment and inspiration from Instagram.

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After wrestling and talking it out, I finally came up with my social media mission statement. And once I wrote it out, something happened.

My Social Media Mission:
To unapologetically inspire others by giving them a glimpse into my heart, faith, business and world and what I’m currently learning in each.

As soon as I wrote those words, I felt free, and excited, to post again.

Who cares how many followers I have! Who cares how many people unfollow me. I am going to be faithful with what God has given me. I’m going to unapologetically post from now on. And I’m not going to strive about the WHAT I’m posting. I’m gonna post what I feel called to post: heart lessons and inspiration and business knowledge and glimpses into my tiny world in my tiny townhome and pretty images and messy images and whatever God wants me to post. I will take 2 whole days off of social media each week, to refresh my mind and spirit. Those two days might or might not be the weekend, because often times I work on the weekends. That’s for me and God to know and we’ll take it one week at a time.

Friends, I feel like I’m still learning here. I feel like sometimes it’s a weakness in me and sometimes it’s a strength. Sometimes I love it and sometimes I really do feel like it’s toxic.

But the purpose of this blogpost is this:

To let you know that you are not alone.
To encourage you to dig deep and find what your social media mission statement is.
To set healthy boundaries for your fullest life.
To not swing to extremes (deleting all accounts v. spending hours on it each day) but instead, to follow God’s calling for you in it.

Do you ever struggle with these feelings? Have you ever written a social media mission statement? If so, I’d love to hear it in the comments!

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COMMENTS

I’m so glad I stumbled on this today! Thank you for sharing your heart, Nancy. This is something I’ve been brainstorming and thinking about so much lately and I think you’re right – everyone works a little differently and I need to figure out what will work best for me when it comes to Instagram and social media. I’m excited to dig in and find out what that is! Thank you for that encouragement.

Hi Nancy,

This resonates so much. I am a wedding photographer, a wife, a mama and a believer and all those things seem so mismatched in the world of instagram when everything looks filtered and polished and curated. I wrestle so much with what to post and how to share the gospel and how to just be encouraging rather than be a cause for comparison. Thanks so much for this post, it really helps!

ps. I just listened to your class on contentment at Influence – loved it!

I could have written this. I have been having these exact thoughts and came to the same conclusion just recently as I have been battling with some health issues. It’s funny when you are faced with HUGE health concerns, how much you appreciate your life even more. My life, the life God has given me is so much more than perfectly selected fine art photos or perfectly composed pictures of my children. It’s about glorifying Him in ALL that I do. I am unapologetically a mom who sometimes (often times) walks out the door looking like a hot mess. I am a wife who struggles to be Godly and to serve my husband in the way I know I am called to serve. I am a photographer who loves her business and hates it all at the same time on some days. I hate that it makes me doubt myself so much. I am a very strong Christian deeply rooted in The Word and who sometimes has really crappy sinful days and I just want to cuss because I lost my sh*! one too many times that day. I’m over perfectly curated IG feeds. It’s not real. It’s not what I’m called to do. Thank you for sharing your heart. XO!

I struggle with this all the time! I have a personal account and one for our business and I find that when I am posting consistently for our business I neglect my personal account. It’s so hard when your a photographer and you follow so many TALENTED and inspiring photographers with BEAUTIFUL Insta feeds and yours doesn’t look like that. There’s comparison again! This was a great read. Thanks so much for sharing your heart!

I’ve agonized over all this too… Every person I hear speak has a different take on it, which has lead me to believe that there really is no “right” way to use social media except the way that is right for you. I’m older than the average wedding photographer (at least it seems!) and social media wasn’t a “thing” until I was already a college graduate out in the working world. As a result, I’m naturally more private and not all that inclined to post a lot of pics of myself doing things… Not that my life is that interesting anyway! My IG will be quiet for weeks at a time! I’m old enough now that I don’t get anxiety about it… It’s all ephemeral anyway. Follow me, don’t follow me… Life goes on!

Oh Nancy… You have no idea how much I needed this today… It’s such a difficult balance within social media, and it’s also a balance to keep from being CONSUMED by SM. I’ve been searching for a bit of an action plan to figure it all out, and I feel like creating a mission statement and sticking to it could be so helpful! Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your vulnerability in sharing your sweet heart!!

It is not silly or weird at all – it is being intentional. I love your heart, Nancy. I’ve been struggling with social media, blogging… and texting – I get sidetracked and my whole day can get completely thrown off by these things. But these are all ways, we communicate these days (listen to me, I sound like an old lady!) with our community – the people we do life with and new friends who live hundreds of miles away. There is such a balance between being present, being authentic, loving others by sharing our hearts, humility, encouragement… vs. pride, boasting, editing our lives, oversharing… and then there’s those times when my kids have been saying., “mommy” for five minutes while I finish a text or post… ugh (shameful!) ! Or my husband and I realize we’ve been staring at our phones more than into each other’s eyes (okay, maybe not staring, but at least making eye contact). So much good and bad can happen with social media. I love your mission, I think I’m going to write one now! What I learned to do is ask myself questions like, “is this an authentic glimpse at my life?” “does this point people to Jesus” “will this make someone laugh (this one is the reason I post about my kiddos.)” “will this make my clients feel loved and tended?” etc. I’ve done a lot of pride checking lately because social media can definitely feed my ego and on the flip-side I watch how I feel about other ladies’ feeds because it can cause discontentment. Anyway, now that I’ve written a book. I’m right there with you! I think social media as a tool has come a long way and will continue to morph. Love you, friend! Keep at it!

High five, Nancy! Your intentional and honest heart for God shine through the screens we’re all behind. Thanks for sharing your direction.

THANK YOU. So much. I was literally churning over these exact things yesterday (you know the thoughts- “I wonder if people would think I’m a sellout if I slowly transitioned my feed to one of those with a matching color scheme…. but how could I even do that? I’m not a photographer, and my life doesn’t even have a “color scheme”… yada yada yada …) before I saw that Gina had shared this post on her FB page. Coming into the season of Lent, this was like a lightning bolt from God to focus on right now. Thank you for taking the time to share that this was on your heart, because it is on the minds of SO, so many of us. xoxo

Yes. Oh my goodness, yes. You put words to my heart and mind. Thank you!

Yes!!! To all of this!!! I’ve always been a little protective over the kids–even more so as they’ve grown older. We all have our own way of doing social media and I love your mission statement! I’ve done something similar for myself and it makes it easy to shut down any doubts that start creeping in about if I’m doing it “right” and whatnot. Thank you for sharing on this topic!

Nancy!!!! This is so great and exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you. this has been a recent struggle and before I read this I said to myself “this is my instagram or FB page. I’m gonna post what I feel is me and not be afraid” then I doubted my decision bc everyone says keep it separate. I want to be me and people to know me. My life is crazy, fun and wonderful. Sometimes it’s tough. But it is my life. I want people to know me.

I love all your post and was so excited to watch your journey over the last few years. Seeing your family grow and when you went on the Dave Ramsey show and watching your business grow and more. It has been inspiring. I’m glad you post personally. Your post are sweet, real and encouraging to me. Your messages always seem to come in my feed when I need them most and help me. Of all the ones I follow yours post have always been one I look forward to and go to for encouragement.
Keep posting. keep being you.
xx :)

Love this! All of it. And yes, my social media mission statement is that I will not go on any social media sites unless my heart is prepared to either pray for or to encourage others.

It doesn’t matter if it is the weekend or Tuesday, it is all about doing a heart check for me first.

Nancy, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this with all of us! These reflections are so desperately needed. You, amongst Jess Connolly and Lara Casey, include the social media feeds I just adore because I can see each of your hearts through them. Throughout the post I wanted to say, “wait! Doesn’t she know how we love her posts, business or personal?!” So, please know that you’re not alone in feeling this and that sharing how you wrestled with it is an inspiration for all of us using this tool to make sure we’re using it for the Kingdom as we follow peace as we post.

Wow. I was just sitting in my kitchen looking at my own Instagram feed thinking “it looks too busy, I need to delete those two photos with me and a big group of my friends because it makes my feel look busy and unorganized.” WHAT. Those are my best friends! Thank you for posting such an honest, life-giving post. I love following you and your transparency, it is so encouraging!

This is such a perfect, timely post for me. I’m starting a business & having my first baby in a month. This has been on my mind and heart as I’m still not sure how to comfortably combine or separate the two. Your post gives me some direction and a different perspective to consider. Thank you!!

This post just reminded me of an amusing marriage moment….I talked for probably thirty minutes to my husband about our social media culture, the good things that come from it, how its ruining the world, how its helping the world, how it makes relationships less personal, how it keeps people more connected, and on and on and on I talked….And then I asked him his opinion and he was like “Um…I’ve never even thought about it.” LOL!

Thank you so much for sharing your heart on this. It’s definitely something I’ve been struggling with too. I love the idea of a social media mission statement – I’m off to go think and pray about what mine should be!

I personally do not know you but I am always encouraged by your Instagram and blog posts. I love how your business reflects what’s most important to you- Jesus. That name is powerful! You radiate for HIM through your life as a mama, wife, and business owner and that is what he has called us to do. I love seeing people who use their gifts for the Kingdom. You are so genuine, Nancy, and I love learning from you!

Hi Nancy!

First of all, thank you SO much for this post – it is so relevant to so many people. Social media, and how it is used, is advancing so much quicker than any of us can keep up with, and at the end of the day, it all comes down to choice. I love your mission statement! As a marketer/creative/soon-to-be-mother, I, too, have felt the need to redefine how I specifically use Instagram. My hobby is brush lettering and calligraphy, and as you can probably assume, there is a HUMONGOUS community of like-minded creatives on IG. All with such pretty feeds, which yield so many hearts, which can make this little letterer feel ‘less than’ on her not so inspired days. I have to give myself clean breaks from IG every few days. I have to give myself space to focus on MY art and not everyone elses. Behind every picture, there is a story. I want my images to tell the story of my life, in a way. Which is messy, but beautiful; sporadic, but sometimes planned; joyful, but honest. Another thing that invigorates me when I’m feeling like I’m in a social media slump is perusing all the lettering hashtags I use, like #brushlettering. I like to get on there, find people who are maybe just starting to learn to letter, and give them encouragement. Or, if I see something truly fantastic, but it only has two or three likes, I love to comment on how beautiful their work and style is, and to keep going. I do this for about 30 minutes at least once a week. To me, it makes social media a little more human and a little more ‘me.’

Always love reading your words.

-Sarah

phew. this was so perfect. i am in the same boat with having just had a little one! thank you for sharing your heart.

I’ve been working through my relationship with social media over the past month as part of my 2016 goals, and I love this post. The idea of a social media mission statement is especially helpful — I think yours is perfect! Thanks for sharing. :)

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