Your life in color

Opinion: It’s time to tell the other half of our stories

Scrolling through Instagram, you see perfectly curated acai bowls and crazy colored smoothies, girls digging into beautiful slices of pizza, a few more girls in swimsuits, a couple guys drinking beers with their buddies, and people on incredible hikes while they travel the world. Everyone is happy, and no one is struggling. Instagram creates a digital space where people can put their absolute best foot forward, but doesn’t provide them a place for if they aren’t feeling their best, especially if Instagram itself causes that feeling.

There wasn’t a place to talk about what’s really going on or a place to show the real you. Maybe your life wasn’t as perfect as it looked in the pictures because you were struggling with anxiety, school was much harder than you could have ever imagined, or your entrepreneurial hopes weren’t going the way they seemed in your posts.

The creation of that type of utopian, digital world leads to the black hole of Instagram: scrolling and liking images for hours on end, posting and tagging to gain new followers, living parts of your life “just for the ‘gram,” and feeling an overall unhappiness many people can’t quite seem to put their finger onI saw how social media was affecting my life and shaping my friends’ lives, especially how they visited specific locations just to get the perfect picture and purchased certain bikinis to look a certain way. I watched others insanely edit their pictures, and their followers could quickly identify when their teeth were especially whitened or when their hips or butt seemed magically curvy. I even ordered a beet latte to post on my Instagram because it was pretty and pink (in my defense, I still thought it would be good despite the fact I hate beets). Instagram can do this to people. Social media in general can do this people. I watched how it fed into my friends eating disorders. I watched how it probably sparked stress, anxiety and, worst of all, lonelinesseven when they were surrounded by the ones they love.

The two spaces I found myself going to for realness were ones about love: The New York Times Modern Love Column and the online art community Post Secret where people share their deepest darkest secrets anonymously.

Then one day I was scrolling through my Instagram and I found a fellow friend’s post about a platform they started called #Half The Story. I clicked, followed and became consumed by the realities of the world finally being revealed on social media.

Something we aren’t told often is that it’s okay not to be okay. #Half The Story was crying to the world, “It’s okay not to be okay! And even more so, we want you to know that you’re not alone!”

#Half The Story is a global community that encourages individuals to share the parts of their lives that aren’t seen in standard social media posts. It celebrates human talents, passions, struggles and pressures in the same space where followers are connected on a deeper level. #Half The Story is the place online where you can share your life unfiltered.

The stories resonated with me and moved me. They made me not feel alone by exposing me to a community that was created from truth, and it was something I found to be so beautiful. It’s crazy to see how people I admired and looked up to were sharing their own truths and struggles on social media, like the founder of my favorite company ban.do, Jen Gotch. Fast forward a few months after I found #Half The Story, and I’m a part of their team interviewing her in the official ban.do warehouse about her own story and journey and the importance of using social media in positive ways and being your true self.

Before I got more involved with the Instagram platform, I watched it progress from afar. I didn’t want to get too close–I never wanted to get too close to the realities of the world, including my personal world. I didn’t want to face difficulties in my relationships, I didn’t want to address problems with myself, and I didn’t want personal things from my own life to surface. And I still don’t, but #Half The Story at least opens up the window to let in some air. And with some time, maybe I’ll open up more about the other half of my story.

I decided, in the meantime, I’ll sit and listen and be inspired. That’s still happening, but now quite a bit more intimately.

#RG @quickbrownfoxlp I started Quick Brown Fox Letterpress two and a half years ago after receiving funding from a successful Kickstarter campaign. I had been dreaming for at least ten years about having my own letterpress shop. I studied printmaking at Pratt Institute and started working in printmaking studios as soon as I graduated. What I learned working in two very different letterpress shops in the next twelve years was invaluable. I was lucky enough to work for two amazing women who showed me the ropes. I learned a lot, taught and trained new printers and eventually managed both studios. The whole time I was dreaming and planning for what I’d do if given the chance. I squirreled away card designs as well as sketches of my dream studio. I also learned a few design programs to prepare for the day I’d finally be on my own. I told everyone I met that I wanted my own business and print shop. In some ways, I was lucky. I completely funded my start up money and didn’t have to go into debt. The other half was constant stress, especially since I was doing it entirely on my own. I had to learn how to run and build a business from scratch, figure out the social media game, create a wholesale line and build a client base while trying to teach myself how to fix a heavy piece of machinery. I had to completely rebuild the press, which I’m super proud of. Now, I’m happy it’s the way I got started since I know my press inside and out. Like everything with my business, I’ve thrown myself into every opportunity. I always say yes, even if I don’t necessarily know what I’m doing. It’s a constant learning experience, like recently buying a new piece of machinery that I didn’t really know how to operate and figuring it out. Starting in January 2018 I will be working full time for myself. The next year will come with challenges, but I can’t wait! I love what I do, learning from my experiences. And I love that my work makes people laugh and that each card tells a story. #halfthestory

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“On the outside I had a lot going for me. A Director level job in an amazing company with a culture many would envy, the confidence to walk into a room of C-Suite Executives and pitch our latest solution on the fly, batting back questions thrown at me like a game of tennis. I had two beautiful boys; Jackson (4) and Carter (18 months), who were and still are as special as it gets. My family was extremely close. I lived in a fairly affluent area, wanted for very little and had my whole life ahead of me. But I didn’t want my life any more. I was a failure, a fat, lazy, ugly, horrible, selfish human being who did not deserve to be surrounded by people and could not let my young children grow up to resent me for who I was. The only time I ever felt great was when I drank alcohol. I’ve learned that this is an extremely common trait amongst those with mental illness but at the time I was entrapped in the most vicious of cycles. I completely broke down. The dread had got the better of me and something had to be done. The issue was, I felt a huge responsibility to deliver at work and the financial pressure of splitting up and caring for my two boys had me desperate. I went home and cried on my bed, I wanted to die and I was going to do it. But I didn’t. What I did instead was send out a cry for help that ultimately saved me. I sent a message to my Dad simply saying “ Dad I’m so sorry, I’ve had enough and I don’t want to be in this world anymore” Something in me stopped me, and my Dad was there in 15 minutes. Together with Matt, my vision for the 10 Percent Project is to grow a brand that achieves a few things. Firstly I want to raise awareness to mental illness and let people know that it’s ok to talk about it, secondly I want to show people that fitness is a fantastic catalyst for changing your life if done the right way. I want to show people that there are people there to help, I want to create initiatives for those feeling desperate, and alone. Finally, I want to build and grow a fitness community of like minded people; people who either need motivation and support or those who have been through something and want to harness that experience to help others.”

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I joined the #Half The Story team in July 2017. I needed to be a part of a platform consisting of real, raw personal accounts that you don’t see on someone’s perfectly curated Instagram. These stories talk about struggles with addiction, overcoming mental illness, entrepreneurial battles, college troubles, personal passions, and secret dreams and successes.

Now I am officially, and have been for the past four months, the editorial director of #Half The Story. The stories I read and receive on a daily basis range from parents who are recovering addicts, students dealing with crippling addiction, and children who have been raped. It’s a position I have never been in before. I was, in some technological way, becoming a scapegoat and friend to many on the internet who had not shared their stories before. While the process was freeing for them, it was equally as cathartic for me.

Delving into the world of #Half The Story means being honest with yourself. The stories from our community have now shaped and changed my day-to-day life and personal relationship with social media. Stories like the one from @quickbrownfox of dreaming for more than ten years about having her own letterpress shop are incredibly inspiring and motivating, as well as the story from @10percentprojectx about being a dad of two who affirms the value of each and every day.

I felt free when I first found #Half The Story, and I feel free now working for it. I am helping people across the globe find their voice and tell their story.