It was the fall of 2013. I was a naive, bewildered high school freshman entering the final years of adolescence. Like many other 14-year-olds, I was blinded by my future and silently struggling with self-confidence issues. In the summer of 2014, nearly nine months later, everything had developed. I became involved in an instant love affair with the world's most famous photo-sharing app: Instagram.
In a summer spent breaking curfews and mending my broken heart, I discovered the App Store's No. 1 photography app. Like most people my age, I was instantly addicted to Instagram. I started taking pictures endlessly -- in my bedroom, on my seven o'clock flight to New York City, and of pages in the novel I was reading.
As time went on, I was (slowly) gaining many followers, and Instagram was starting to give me a voice. Taking pictures was mildly therapeutic, and my personal issues healed as time went on. I unapologetically allowed my thoughts to run wild in an online world that accepted more than 140 characters. I was Instagramming everywhere -- in elevators, the backseat of my best friend's car, and the corner of my mom's office. I love this app because young people can instantly share snapshots of their private life for the world's indulgence.
By the end of summer 2014, I'd amassed over 500 followers and my confidence was back, too. During the fall of my sophomore year, I was Instagramming nearly every day. Posting pictures kept me sane through many of the toughest days of my life. I let “likes” become a dimension of my life, but at some point, it went too far. I was posting incessantly and I lost my true love for photography. Deep down, I was still trying to rediscover the slightly eccentric and adventurous spirit that I used to know. I witnessed firsthand how powerful our iPhones have become.
It's January 2016 now -- 1,200 followers and three years since I fell in love with an app that is still so prominent in my life. Now, things are different. I still refresh my phone every 10 minutes to check how many people have double-tapped my pic. I grab my phone from the table at a restaurant to check my Instagram DMs, and you can always find me Insta-sizing pictures on my way to chemistry class. But I stopped Instagramming so frequently and started living -- unapologetically. Social media helped me to stop apologizing for who I was and for who I wanted to be. I was able to showcase what I loved about the world. Using pictures to portray my life helps me in ways that I can’t put into words.
There’s some peace in knowing that I’m still just a Midwestern boy, with an iPhone camera, searching for a place in this world. Hopefully someday I’ll capture it, in focus, through the lens of my favorite camera.
Want to be an MTV Voices contributor? Send your full name, age, and pitches to email@example.com.