November 4, 2015

Essena O’Neill: An Instagram Star Learns a Life Lesson the Hard Way.

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I’ve lived a long life of 73 years; folded up into all those years are, in fact, many different lives.

One of them is the life of the girl/woman who thought that if she could just be what everyone else wanted her to be, she would be happy, content, successful, and life would be easy.

It was a fairy tale.

Granted, a fairy tale that had been told to me via the world around me, which in those days was television, magazines, radio, newspapers and even, tragic enough to say, the church and the schools I went to.

Still, archaic as those influences may seem, even laughable in today’s media drenched world, I was influenced by them.   What did I know? I was desperate to be loved.

“Give us what we want and you’ll be loved forever,” everybody seemed to be saying. “Mirror us in the way we want to be mirrored and you’ll be happy.” Be thin like we want, be smiling all the time like we want, be kind, be funny, be “pure” like we want.

Sound familiar?

It took me years and years to learn that there ain’t no such thing as happiness or contentment or even success that comes from fulfilling the perceived demands of society.

The only real happiness, contentment and success comes from one thing:

Being true to yourself.

People today give themselves away like I did as well. They do it through what we so cleverly refer to as social media:

Ask Essena O’Neill, an 18-year-old Australian social media star with over 500,000 followers on Instagram who says it all in her last Instagram post:

“I’ve spent the majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status, and my physical appearance.”

Poor girl. She has had a very public epiphany.

Brave girl. She is going forward with her new perspective, no matter what.

“Social media, especially how I used it, isn’t real. It’s contrived images and edited clips ranked against each other. It’s a system based on social approval, likes, validation, in views, success in followers. It’s perfectly orchestrated self-absorbed judgment.”

Essena’s angst had a huge audience and her learning and clarity was an enormous break-through of personal insight.  Wow! Good for her for doing what in fact we are all called to do….

Be true to ourselves.

When Essena was lying about who she was, she was throwing bait into a sea that caught the kind of fish that ate that bait.

Today, with her newfound insight she will be casting a different kind of bait into the sea—which will reap a net full of a different kind of fish.

She will be reaching out to an audience who will recognize truth when they see it. More importantly, she will be using her status to tell people that being true to oneself is the only basis that provides happiness, contentment and success.

Today, Essena’s new Instagram will have an entirely different approach. And when asked how it would grow, she said simply:

“Organically. If it moves someone, they tell their friends about it, simple as that. I’ll be talking about vegansim, creative imagery with purpose, poems, writing, interviews with people that inspire me.”

But she left out something.

She left out that now, with her new honest approach to herself and to what matters to her, not only will she be interacting with people who inspire her but…

She will be inspiring us as well.

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Check out Essena O’Neill’s Instagram for more of her awesome commentary.



Relephant Reads:

Essena O’Neill: A Call To Use Social Media Responsibly.

elephant journal’s 10 #Mindful Instagram feeds worth Following.


Author: Carmelene Siani

Editor: Travis May

Photos: Instagram/Essena O’Neill

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