I have named this post ‘A Letter to My Readers’ mainly because I hate the term ‘follower’, a ‘follower’ to me is a sheep, someone who follows along behind me and is just another number in the crowd, a ‘reader’ is much more to me than that.
I created my Instagram account in 2016, a time when I was crippled with anxiety, I was getting married, I was in a job I hated, and I was chronically lonely. Most people assume those who are alone are lonely, and those who are in relationships are not, but loneliness to me is a state of mind, not a state of situation. I felt alone because I felt misunderstood, I felt as though I wasn’t heard by those around me, I felt as though my deep emotions were invalid as I was a bubbly, outwardly happy person. I turned to Instagram because it was a space I felt as though I could be myself and have others relate to me.
I am an introvert and whilst I love socialising and I love having friends, I also love spending time by myself, focusing on my own thing. But I love to share, and the reason I love to share is that I never want anyone to feel alone like I did in those years. I used to go to bed at night and cry myself to sleep because people were present and I just felt unwanted and unloved and it crippled my self-esteem. 2016 was the height of my confidence ‘meltdown’, I reached a point I struggled to leave the house because I felt so rejected I thought the world would reject me too. This issue morphed into what I believe was a severe case of body dysmorphia, I was ashamed to leave the house because I genuinely believed I was a monstrous human being and anyone walking past me would be offended by my presence. It was difficult and I still find it hard to understand my space, especially as I have come so far since then.
Even in the first year of ‘Instagramming’, I was told not to put my personal life on there, I was told I shouldn’t put my picture on there, when I suggested changing my handle to ‘postscardsbyhannah’ I was told it was a bad idea and having my name in there made it too ‘personal’ which would put people off. When I look back, it upsets me that someone so close to me believed I would be sabotaging my own Instagram by putting my personal touch on it, but I did it anyway. Whilst my account has been live since 2016, ‘postcardsbyhannah’ was really born in 2017 and ever since then, it became my safe space.
I started writing not only about the places I travelled, but the feelings I felt. All the silly things I did that some people would find annoying and others seemed to find endearing. From this I built a close audience, I finally felt as though I ‘fit in’, and not just that, I felt as though my readers were open to listening to me. Each comment on my post, to this day, is from someone who listened to me and someone who saw me, I no longer felt rejected and invisible. And not just that, my Instagram account was also a form of communication with my friends and family. When I wrote about my struggles with anxiety and the times I felt sad, the closest people to me also read that, the words I could never find to say aloud I could type, they started understanding me more and whilst we may have no had direct conversations about the things that were troubling me, I could tell by the small changes in my friend’s behaviour that they had heard me and they were silently helping me.
Since those days in 2017, 2018 and even 2019, I have had the confidence to actually speak out loud, to admit when I’m sad, to admit I struggle with anxiety and whilst I am often a very happy person, the last few years have taken a huge toll on me that I can finally admit.
I think a huge reason for my newfound openness is the acceptance I have had from those who read my Instagram posts each day, those who take the time to like a photo, leave a comment and those who send regular messages, telling me about their own life experiences and sending their thoughts to me. All of this has built me up to be a far more confident person, had you spoken to me 3 years ago I would have told you I would never put my face online, I was too afraid, but 2020 was the year I created a separate account in order to share more of ME, the clothes I like, food I like, places I like, it was far more visually personal and I wasn’t afraid either.
I now view all my readers as personal friends and I often think how lucky I am to have so many thousands of people listening to me every day, talking to me, offering words of wisdom and great advice. I wouldn’t be the strong woman I am today if I didn’t have you all, I wouldn’t be able to say ‘no’ to people, I wouldn’t have had the strength to walk away from someone who didn’t treat me right, I wouldn’t have had the strength to start my life over at the age of 29.
I know Instagram ‘influencers’ (yes, I hate that word too and struggle to identify with it) get a bad rep, I know it may not be seen as a proper ‘job’, I know people view us as freebie grabbers, but this Instagram means so much more to me than any job, any hotel stay, any experience. I would give up all the perks that came with it in a heartbeat if someone told me I would be able to continue talking to my readers every single day because they are what makes the account, not me. I wouldn’t be who I am, I wouldn’t have this job, I wouldn’t have the wonderful opportunities I have without my readers and it can be so easy to forget to thank you.
So this is my thank you, from the bottom of my heart you have all given me the encouragement to be this woman, and for the first time in 14 years, I like myself, I think I’m worthy, whilst I am far from perfect, I know I am a good person with good intentions and a big heart with a lot of love to give. I’m not ashamed of who I am anymore, I no longer feel stupid or annoying, I no longer feel like a scatterbrain, I no longer feel useless and unlovable.
I feel like Cady Heron throwing out pieces of her prom queen crown when I say this, but it’s true, a piece of my heart and happiness belongs to every single person that decided to click ‘follow’ on my little corner of the internet.
Oh, and before I sign off this soppy lovefest, I want to say a little thank you from Baxter too. The day he came home to us he came to a loving home with two parents, but things change and now it’s just me, parent number 2 walked away from him without looking back, it was as simple as cancelling the direct debts and saying ‘he is yours now’. I cried more about that than anything else, because whilst he is furry and has four legs, I love him more than anything in this world and my heartbreak was for him, that someone could leave him like that. But what he has lost in one person, he has gained in 136,000, because I cannot explain the level of love Baxter gets from you all and it fills my heart and reminds me that he will always have an army of love and care behind him.
Thank you everyone for the support and here’s to another year of fun experiences, tears and happiness!
Lots of love from Hannah xx
PS thank you even more for putting up with my constant typos, I know I am terrible at making them, but just can’t seem to help myself!