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Remember that moment as a kid when you became ‘self aware?’ You probably don’t, but I’m sure your mom does.

My mom, Magnus and I recently reminisced about that time when Magnus as a six year old went up to mom and told her, “I want to get a haircut,mom! I want it shorter“ after passing a girl around he’s age with her mom at the mall where the girl said to her mom, while pointing at Magnus “I want the same hair as her.” In one instant, it was as he suddenly became aware of what other people thought of him, or what was considered ‘cool.’

Kind of adorable, kind of heartbreaking right?

I remember being little and my friend saying to me “Sofie. Did you hear? Rikke doesn’t like to play pretend anymore.” My jaw dropped to the ground. Rikke was some years older than us, but we were dumbfounded. “What do you MEAN she doesn’t like to play pretend?!!!!??!?!”I cried out, in utter disbelief - as if my favorite barbie had just been thrown away.

But it happens. To all of us. Eventually, pretending to be mermaids just doesn’t feel the same as it did when you were seven.

It took a little bit longer for me, though. It happened eighth grade. I was 13 years old with friends on the beach one hot summer day. We had been playing volleyball for hours, so when we were done everyone decided to run straight into the water to cool off. I ran into the water and dived in with my head first. We were laughing, and having a great time until I realized that one of my girlfriends was left standing on the beach. I was cheering and chanting on her “come on in!!!” in hopes that she would join in. “NO!!!” she yelled. “I have make up on!”

I looked at her confused. “So what?” I thought to myself. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why. My eight grade mind couldn’t comprehend why wearing makeup would prevent you from joining the rest of us in the water.

I went up to her and asked her what it was. She sat down on the grass, all upset and told me that she had put on mascara. She further told me that it was because she didn’t want wet hair and smeared mascara in front of her crush and all of he’s cute older friends. She was embarrassed.

I tried my best to persuade her to join us and that no one cares as much as we think. But she was determined in her decision. She didn’t join, it was really sad and it did something to me.

And so suddenly, I was introduced to a new world I didn’t even know existed.

When she told me that, I questioned everything. “Oh, you’re NOT supposed to get in the water if you have makeup on? Guys DON’T like when your hair is wet?“ I felt like a fool. How had I not known this?? It was very simple, but in the same way Magnus realized long hair on boys were lame (which. ahem... it’s not.. that’s when they can pull manbun. which. ahem... is hot??? right??) and in the same way as my friend Rikke realizing big kids don’t “play pretend”...I was instantly aware.

From then on I was aware of what people thought of me, or how I looked. What people were saying about me. Never again would I be as innocent and careless as I was that summer night at the beach, laughing without wondering for a single second of what anyone present thought of me.

That mentality, of “is this cool?” “do they like me?” “what do they think of me?” stays with us as we get older. Some, more than others, and to be honest I always thought that I was one of the “others.” The ones who didn’t care as much.

But the truth is, we all care a little too much.

Especially with social media.

I can’t even imagine how much earlier that night at the beach would have happened for me if we all had cell phones and Snapchat. I would have likely became self aware much much sooner.

For the last couple of years, I’ve had an online presence. It’s no secret that the internet is just an online cafeteria and Instagram is the table of mean girls. It’s tough out there. But for the first couple of years I was on Instagram, it really didn’t effect me. The “pressures” that is. And I truly mean that! I never, I mean NEVER checked my “likes” or even my follower count, and especially not who was unfollowing me. I posted pictures, and it was fun. That was it. My worth, didn’t come from the internet.

And then, kind of in the same way a little kid becomes aware... I became aware all over again. With social media, we’re almost forced into being aware. Being aware that your waist isn’t the size of *insert Instagram models name here* or being aware that your house isn’t as big and gorgeous as *insert mommy bloggers name here* or being aware that Justin Bieber chose Hailey Baldwin over you, you know? Who likes your post and who doesn’t. Being aware of literally everyone else’s lives and how yours adds up.

And this is what happened to me. It was like the beach all over again. I questioned everything. But instead of deciding to wear more makeup, and deciding not to get my hair wet, I decided I needed to post better photos, write better captions, get a better body.

And listen. I’ve always prided in myself for not caring about my online image as much, so it makes me feel so weird and embarrassed to even talk about this. But it’s necessary. I gotta tell you guys.

I cared so much.

At the beginning of 2019 I was traveling like a maniac. I was busting out content like a white girl at Coachella. I went to Bali, UK, Greece, Germany and Polen. And it really was the time of my life. But so much of it was spent taking photos and posting photos, and then checking on photos to see what people thought of the photos, blah blah blah.

I bought every preset I thought would make my photos better. I would post only during times of day that my followers were most active. I would buy outfits for Instagram pictures. I would check every day to see who was unfollowing me. I would compare my engagement on different photos, and I would be disappointed if it was lower than before. It was exhausting.

And then in the summer, I went on a road trip with Aurora, Joakim and Torstein. Good people. Cool people. Good friends of mine.

I hadn’t been home longer than a couple of weeks in months, but my intense love for traveling refused to let me miss that trip. And I’m forever thankful that I went.

They too, were aware. We were constantly taking photos of each other, they knew the best angles, or camera settings, camera edits, it was like one big social-image-creating-machine.

This trip on the other hand...was different.

Aurora and the boys didn’t care about any of that. They had their Snapchat out once in a while, and pictures were being taken every now and then, but it was natural. It wasn’t “go find a cool waterfall for a picture” it was “oh this waterfall is sick, can you take my picture?” does that make sense? It reminded me of how I used to travel. I used to never seek content, I would just take cool pictures as they happened. Capturing real moments instead of curating them.

It was towards the end of the week and we had been out in the sun all day long. We headed down to the beach, and everyone ran in the ocean. I felt a lump in my throat. I hadn’t been IN the ocean, like waist deep, hair submerged- the entire week. I have a TON of hair, and so getting it wet would mean at least an hour of brushing out my hair plus an hour at least just to wash. It’s a task in and of itself and I avoided it at all costs on trips. Dry shampoo was my best friend. But why? For WHAT? I thought to myself. Was it seriously just so my hair would look good in an Instagram picture? I got angry at myself. Seriously. I had flashbacks to eight grade and my friend crying over the idea of getting her hair wet. She missed out on such a fun memory, such a carefree moment because she didn’t want her mascara to be running in front of cute older boys. I remember being so annoyed by that, but there I was, 19 years old, almost missing out of a fun carefree moment because I didn’t want to get my hair wet.

I changed my mind immediately, and ran as fast as I could after the others into the water, diving head first before I could even talk myself out of it. And you guys.

I held back tears.

It was one of the best days of my life. The water was warm, there was not a single cloud in the sky, and I was surrounded by some of the best people. Seriously. Perfect.

Remember when you were a kid and you just swam all. of. the. time?? There was nothing in the world better than going to the local pool and diving for rings I mean come ON!! And then as you got older you would go to the pool and you’d sit in a tube or lay out and tan, or stick your toes in. But when was the last time you just SWAM? for fun? Like you did when you were a kid?

That was that day for me. We just swam. Like we were nine years old again. We were out in the ocean for hours. We never wanted to leave. I remember thinking to myself “I want to stay like this forever.” It was like for just a moment, I was that eight grader swimming, with zero thought or care of what anyone thought of me. The awareness was stripped, and I was in my happiest, purest state. That’s how I think we are when we strip down the pressures and expectations we get from social media. I think that is when we are the happiest.

I decided from that point on that I never ever ever again wanted to miss out on a moment or a memory because I was worried about what other people thought of me. Being aware is good, but the power comes from being aware and deciding not to care.

My view on social media changed after that trip. I obviously still use it, and in fact I really love it. And I think it’s because I’ve removed the pressures and expectations. I have a better relationship with it now. I’ve even accepted Hailey & Justin. It’s all love. Ever since that road trip, I’ve taken more photos with my phone and in fact I would say 90% of my photos since then are from my phone. I don’t even filter them most of the time. And even if they are beautiful travel photos taken with a professional camera, they’re authentic. I don’t actively seek content. I post a picture if I like my outfit, or if I did something cool that day. I post at 2 am, I post three times a day, I even post things where I roast myself. The point is, I post whatever I want, whenever I want.

And you know what? It feels good. Almost as good as getting your hair wet.

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