You Should Embrace Your Embarrassing Social Media Past

I have—and it's totally changed the way I use Instagram and Snapchat.

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A few of my friends are trolls. The kind of trolls who will spend 10 minutes scrolling back through six years of my Instagram feed to find my very first post—just to like it. The first time this happened, I was mortified.

My first few months on Instagram were, shall we say, experimental: none of my friends were on it yet, and I often played fast and loose with this groundbreaking new "filtering" concept. So when I recently opened a notification and was faced with a 2012 Chantal making a duckface beneath a horrendously grainy and washed-out sepia filter, I immediately deleted it. Frantic, I deleted a dozen or so other early Instagrams that were either embarrassingly filtered, distressingly earnest, or pathetically under-liked.

No filter? Unformatted text? Two things I wouldn't be caught dead doing now.
It's 2017 and I'm still talking about chokers—but now I'm trading in dad jokes for crowdsourced style questions.
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A few weeks later I was laughing with my roommate about a costume party we'd gone to in college, but when she asked me to pull up my Instagram of it, I realized it was one of the many casualties from my recent cleanup frenzy. I hadn't backed up any of my Instagrams to my camera roll, so that photo was just gone—poof—forever. I suddenly felt this profound sense of loss. Was that photo so shameful that I had to completely erase all memory of it?

Nothing gives you a mini-existential crisis quite like finding out you once pinned a pair of skeleton-print tights.
Thaaaaat's more like it.

I had another jarring experience when I was scrolling through my "Fashion" Pinterest board, where I've pinned photos of outfit inspirations and trends I love during the past five years. The further down I scrolled, however, the more foreign my taste felt. Now I'm into muted hues and embroidered denim, but in 2011 I was apparently obsessed with skulls and all things neon. You don't realize how much you change over time until you see the proof.

"That rediscovery of my style was both fascinating and comical. Embarrassing, yes, but also sweetly nostalgic."

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Who was this Chantal who saw a picture of neon green platform heels and thought, "Gotta have these!"? A very different person from the one I am today, that's for sure. But that rediscovery of my style was both fascinating and comical. Embarrassing, yes, but also sweetly nostalgic. My Pinterest board is a fashion diary of sorts, recording not just the sequined bodycon dress I was drooling over when I was a sophomore in college, but also the exact party I imagined myself wearing it to—and the butterflies I remember feeling in anticipation of the night I might wear it.

Angsty, yes. But where's the lie?
Look how witty I am now!

So, now when I stumble across old Facebook statuses, tweets, and photos, instead of burning up with humiliation and trying to destroy all traces of them, I've decided to embrace the awkwardness and view them as an archive of my style and my sense of humor. That mirror selfie I took last week that I'm so proud of? I'll probably hate it three years from now—and that's totally OK.

Follow me on Instagram @chantagold for a deeper look into my embarrassing past—I have nothing to hide!

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