How to live through Instagram’s #10yearchallenge (and the best bits you might have missed)

Unless you’ve been on a sabbatical from social media for the past 48 hours, you will have noticed there are two things taking Instagram by storm. First is the egg that is quickly approaching 50 million likes on Instagram and is proving that social media is just as we have always imagined… a place where anyone, even an egg, can truly have their fifteen minutes of fame. But, I’m not here to write about the egg, although I just did. So, the egg wins. I’m here, instead, to talk about another phenomenon involving a flashback in time. For the past two days, accounts on instagram have been taking part in a 10-year challenge. No one quite knows where it started, but the trend is here and everyone is sharing their selfies, 2009 vs. 2019. The shares have left people wondering, in many cases, how to react. Most people are taking the selfie high ground and showcasing how much better they look ten years later. Fair play to you. And here’s hoping that’s the truth. I haven’t seen too many people share anything differently. Well, that’s not entirely true. The celeb rags have jumped on the bandwagon and they’re sharing all sorts of celebrity comparisons that are less than flattering. Pharrell, however, seems to have broken the internet. The dude hasn’t aged a day in twenty years, let alone ten (see below). But, with all this sharing, I got to thinking about, first of all, whether or not I would do this myself, and whether this was all just a disaster waiting to happen for most people. 

While a lot of what’s happening online these days is a pure exercise in vanity, looking back ten years can actually be a very good and healthy practice indeed and here’s why. If we were to start each new year, looking back at where we were ten years ago, as opposed to where we were just last year, I have a feeling that our motivation to change would have a bit more power behind it. A look back a whole decade can really put a lot into perspective very quickly. It can show you just how amazing or just how hurtful a decade can be. It can be painful to look back, it can be joyous too and it can be confusing as hell all at the same time. But, it’s still you. It’s still a look back at where you’ve come from. And where you’ve come from is exactly what’s led you to who you are and where you are standing right now, in this very moment. You are alive. That’s where you are. No matter what that picture looks like, right now, ten years later, you are still a living, breathing part of the world. So, already you’ve won, really. 

Now, I’m writing the above, because this was the pep talk I had to give myself this morning, as I took part in the ten year challenge. For the past five years, I’ve just bumbled along, content to work hard, eat horribly and claim “couch surfing” as my only real form of exercise. I haven’t had the time, nor the desire to look back to 2009. I wouldn’t ever really voluntarily do that, anyway. 2009 was my “skinny year.” That was the year I existed on a 1,000 calorie a day diet and spent five and half hours daily in the gym. I don’t look back at this picture and smile. I look back on this picture and see a twenty something that was so desperately trying to be something she wasn’t, so much so that I was literally starving myself. Two months after this picture was taken, I would be sitting in a hospital in Southern California, with two IVs coming out of my arms from malnourishment. How’s that for getting real? But, hey, I had a great jawline and a waist that was like something out of Meghan Fox movie. 

Then we look right, at a woman that’s in a completely different career, is seemingly happy, is standing in a Jason Wu collaboration dress, having been chosen by the designer himself to wear it for the campaign and I am seeing a similar problem, just completely in reverse. I’m two dress sizes bigger and I’m not looking after my body the way I should, again. I won’t sugarcoat this. The 10-year challenge broke me this morning. Looking back over a decade, I saw a battle present itself that had simply flip flopped back and forth, like a reeled in fish on a boat deck. I had a reality check and it was a big one. And yes, it happened because of some stupid trending hashtag on social media. Only, the thing is, it’s not so stupid after all. 

I’ve seen that I need to make a change. Anyone else instantly singing Michael Jackson after reading those words? I want my 2010 vs 2020 to be something I look upon and smile with pride at someone that has figured out how to be happy while also looking after her body. Because, there is no doubt in my mind right now that I am probably the happiest I have ever been, but it has been achieved in neglecting the body that’s going to see me through the rest of my days on this planet. So, ten year challenge, you are kicking me into action, and for that I thank you.

Now, while we may spend the next few days laughing at the celeb comparisons (see below for a few), the many memes stemming from this little moment in time, and our close friends/ family sharing their own journeys with lots of heart emojis, maybe it’s more important we make this as a personal exercise in “life examination.” Do the challenge. Be honest with the challenge and let it guide you more profoundly than a look back at last year alone. This is ten years we are taking in. Make it count for something. Unless you’re Pharrell. Don’t change a thing, dude. 

Here are some of the social shares thus far, just to give you a bit of a giggle.


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