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Sonya Esman's *NEW COLUMN*: "It's a strange thing, being a blogger"

"It's a strange thing, being a blogger, a social media figure, citizen of the Internet, whatever you shall call it. It's strange and it's daunting, and at times, it gets too much. Don't get me wrong; I have quite possibly the best job in the world. Getting to work with my favorite brands, magazines, and talented artists with the sole purpose of inspiring my followers is beyond what I could even have dreamed of doing for a living.
It's important to realize, however, that what you see on somebody's instagram, blog, or YouTube channel is a mere 20% of what really goes on in their life. I know a number of "top" bloggers in real life very well, and sometimes after talking to them for hours, I go home and check their instagram, and come to realize that what they put out there for the world to see is an enhanced and glamorized version of reality. That's not to say that what bloggers post is a lie, but it's definitely not all that there is. The danger in that though, is that people sometimes don't understand this right away, especially the younger readers. Studies are now showing that teenagers can no longer differentiate between the online world and real life. It was different when I was growing up because social media was kind of just emerging; it was like an "I'm bored, let's go on MSN" kind of thing. Now, the younger generations are learning to type on iPads before they're learning to write in cursive.

As much as I am a content poster, I'm also just as much of a consumer. One of my favorite fashion bloggers, who is always travelling from continent to continent and undeniably breathes and exhales success, is always, freaking, positive. Seriously! I've never seen a simple complaint on this girls feed! Never read a single sad-song-lyric post, never a "I'm so tired". In fact, after travelling for weeks and having a schedule I cannot even begin to fathom, she posts something along the lines of "Flying to New York tomorrow and can't wait for a busy, busy week!" Something's incredibly suspicious. I always dreamed of travelling as much as top bloggers, and this year I've made more circles around the globe for work than I could have even imagined possible. It's exhausting! Flying 15 hours in airplanes that are either freezing cold or blazing hot, painful water retention from long flights, lack of sleep, 7 hour layovers in airports, connecting to another 7 hour flight, going straight to a 12 shoot from the airport, having to post on social media even though there is no cell phone reception, knowing you still have to reply to hundreds of important emails, and on top of all that, carrying the baggage of your personal life wherever you go. Sometimes all I want to do is fly to the Maldives, throw my iPhone in the ocean, and be insignificant. I almost wonder, do some of these top bloggers have assistants posting for them? Keeping it neutral? Keeping it flawless and inspirational? If so, why?
Is this what people truly find inspirational? Perfection? I don't find "perfect" social media figures inspirational or relatable, because they just don't seem real. I'm inspired by those who can admit to their struggles, dwell on them for a while, create something beautiful as a product of their emotions, and rise from it. To quote an Indian proverb, "All sunshine makes a desert."
The strangest progression over the last couple of years is that personal life and "social media life" are rapidly merging. Even when I hang out with old high school friends, who I know don't just like me because of my following, and don't need me to promote their clothing line or new album or what have you- it's still eery. We're in the middle of laughing at a restaurant, living in the present moment, and somebody whips out their phone and records a short "show off" video of our fun time for Snapchat. Why? Is it getting so hard for people to enjoy time offline, without needing to prove to their peers that they are popular and have an amazing life?
Personally, I view instagram and my blog as a personal diary. A journal of my everyday thoughts, experiences, travels, struggles, but most importantly, a place for me to translate my inner world into a photograph or video. Sometimes people ask me what app I use to edit my photos. I use about ten! I view photos as art; sometimes I edit my photos so much that my skin color is nearly blue or purple!  I also edit the living daylight (literally) out of sunset photos! But no, I don't post photos of food I didn't eat. #youdidnteatthat #OHYESIDID.

Sometimes when I feel ugly I post selfies from months back. And yes, I edit out pimples sometimes because reading fifty comments pointing out the volcano on your face isn't that pleasant when you're already vulnerable and aware of it. Sometimes I post quotes; sometimes I post moody things, because I'm real. I feel things beyond "yay I'm about to work for a week straight" and "thank you everyone for 900,000 followers". It's not about that. It's not about the number, or the kind of image you put out on the internet- because it's not real. What we have is the present moment. The breathes we take out in nature, with family and friends, the moments in our lives that leave us breathless, the books we read that move us, and the music that makes our minds go numb from feelings.

Our social media should only be a reflection of our inner world; a place for inspiring people to live in the real world. Never vice versa."

Find out more about our new columnist, Sonya, HERE

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