When we launched our Social Media Makeover Challenge two weeks ago, I couldn’t help but wonder, why am I just now doing this? As an editor and digitally obsessed millennial, I seem to subconsciously always have my phone in front of my face. That doesn’t go to say that I’m not the only one constantly taking a million photos of my dog doing the same things she’s always done, or that I don’t find any excuse to go out and try the new foodie and alcohol-infused establishments the music capital of Texas has to offer—all that deserve a table #selfie photoshoot, of course. But, as I grow older, and all of our phone-to-hand relationships grow stronger, I realize that those boot-stomping, tequila-slamming belly laughs and ‘I know exactly what you’re thinking‘, eye winks across the table become fewer and far between.
I don’t know about y’all, but to me, there’s nothing sexier than a good ‘I’m with you‘ eye wink. Isn’t it funny how the smallest form of communication can change not only your entire confidence at the dinner table, but also strengthen your whole vibe with that person in just an instant? This is exactly what Austin-based interior designer, TV host, and Camille Styles’ favorite DIY gal, Claire Zinnecker, strives to do with her #RealReality series on Instagram. To Claire (and 99.999% of us), Instagram is both a blessing and a curse. It can serve to be a beautiful tool for connection and empowerment, but, it can also suck us down a lonely and self-destructive rabbit’s hole that’s anything but.
Read on to see how Claire is bringing things out from under the rug and onto the table with her #RealReality series, and her tips for building stronger connections with others, and most importantly, with ourselves.
Describe your relationship with social media—the good, bad, and the ugly.
Social media has been an incredible branding and company building tool for me. I have gained friends, long-term collaborations, and clients. I originally started Instagram in order to share something beautiful every day, and it turned into a way for me to shape my own personal aesthetic. As it gained traction it has definitely lost some of that magic, and I find myself spending more time comparing myself to others and spiraling into a social media depression filled with anxiety.
Explain the idea behind your #RealReality series. What sparked it?
Well to speak candidly, about a year and a half ago I was in a really low low place. I had a fall out with a client whom I considered a friend, a painful breakup, and felt like my world was just crashing down. My ex began dating someone incredibly beautiful and when I looked at her Instagram (like any girl does), I felt completely worthless. I decided one day that would no longer allow social media to steal my confidence, and I sure as hell wouldn’t let my Instagram ever make anyone feel less than.
Theodore Roosevelt said it best when he said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
How do you feel #RealReality could be helpful to others?
I love to post photos with thoughts I’m having (for instance, I’m so grumpy today and don’t know why), or to point out disasters in the photo (dog hair on the floor, laundry piling up, etc), or honest things about my looks (I haven’t washed my hair in 3 days). I feel like these are the things most people don’t like to share or admit in their social media accounts, yet these are the things we need to hear most!
Social media shouldn’t be a platform that makes people feel like they aren’t measuring up to the perfection they see in a snapshot of someone else’s life. That snapshot has been styled, cleaned, edited, facetuned, and (probably) more. That’s not what #RealReality is about. It’s about real life. Because real life is messy, and that’s okay. YOU ARE ENOUGH. And I constantly remind myself of that everyday. I want to inspire others to try and find beauty in the messiest situations, because no one is perfect, and life isn’t perfect.
What message do you hope to spread to your followers, and within the community?
I think we all need to realize that comparing ourselves to others is unhealthy and unrealistic. We are all human, and whether or not we decide to show that online is a personal choice, but seeing a photo and thinking that picture-perfect situation is someone’s reality is such a dangerous rabbit hole to go down. If anything or anyone causes you to feel less than or unworthy, then remove it from your life.
To quote Maya Angelou, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.”
What have you learned about yourself as a result of sharing your #RealReality?
I’ve learned that being flawed is the best part about being me! I’m weird, sometimes disorganized, and not even close to perfect. But, for the first time in my 31 years I’ve accepted that, and now I genuinely enjoy it. I’ve lived so long striving to show everyone around me that I have it together, and when I finally took off that mask I not only gained a love for myself, but also so many new true friends! People like real. People want real. Because, people are real.
As Eckhart Tolle said, “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but your thoughts about it.” FACTS.
How do you deal with negative social media comments, and what advice do you have for others that may be experiencing the same thing?
Well, the response from my followers has been beyond supportive!! I get more messages from my #RealReality stories than I do from almost any other Instagram I post. Some even tag me in their own #RealReality stories. In fact, one woman wrote me and said that my account was one of the only ones she let her daughters look at. That meant the world to me. It’s all about empowering each other to do better and to be better. And the second we start to get away from that, well, what’s the point?