I Lived Like an Influencer for a Week

An Honest Review of the Influencer Lifestyle

Mid-temper tantrum because I didn’t know how to pose for the picture. Photo Immanuel Tablas

From Dec. 20 through Dec. 27 I ran my Instagram account as if I were an influencer.

I posted several times during the day on my story, and tried to post daily on my account itself. I was constantly tagging locations and the people I was with, documenting everything I did.

The inspiration came from an article I had previously written, a feature about influencers in Montreal.

I interviewed three women who are steeped in Montreal’s influencer community. They explained the ins and outs of the field, and why they do what they do. Some view content creation as a career, others as a pastime.

The enthusiasm of the women I interviewed and encouragement from the other editors pushed me to try something I thought I would be a natural at.

I made the announcement on my story and asked my followers for suggestions. While I had some ideas of my own, I wanted to consider what content they would be interested in.

I got a lot of replies, ranging from the standard coffee shop latte picture to eating an entire durian fruit.

I couldn’t be brought to pay $5 for a hot chocolate—since I don’t drink coffee—so the cafe idea was a deadend. Buying a durian fruit and filming a mukbang for my story was also out of budget.

This meal was cold by the time we ate. Photo Sheena Macmillan

The first thing I did was cook a Filipino breakfast. Longanisa—Filipino sausage—with fried eggs and fried rice. While my boyfriend was putting the final touches on our 2 p.m. breakfast, I was running around the house scouring for props to fill the pictures’ background.

After collecting plants and dish towels to add colour to the photo—and having a mini temper tantrum because I wasn’t getting the shot—I finally took something salvageable and we dug into our meal.

On Dec. 20 I only posted on my story, so to make up for the lost day I tried my hand at drag makeup. I followed one of RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Manila Luzon’s makeup tutorials on YouTube, documenting the before and after on my story. The finished product was thoroughly documented via selfie, and uploaded to my Instagram.

I used hashtags for the first time in years. I had one of those captions where you have to click “See more” to fully view. It felt like a punch in the gut after every hashtag I typed out. While more people liked my pictures when I used hashtags, they also invited the attention of people overseas, unintentionally laying out the welcome mat to my DMs. Later in the week, I cut the hashtags entirely because I couldn’t cringe any longer.

On Dec. 22, I left the house exclusively to take pictures by the water. I picked out an influencer-esque outfit—a neon yellow shirt, black high-waisted jeans, and a belt with a heart shaped buckle. I did my hair and makeup, then stood out in the cold just for a photo. Admittedly, a very nice photo, but still just a photo.

That morning, I posted a video on my story prompting people to ask me anything. I got a lot of interesting questions from people I had forgotten I’d known. While answering their questions, I felt the need to keep it short to keep people’s attention, but also funny to make it entertaining.

I found myself recording and rerecording the same words strung around in different orders, each take less genuine than the last. It was particularly embarrassing when my boyfriend was around to hear me. I would start over again and again, enthusiastically spouting answers to people who weren’t there.

The walking away shot. A classic. Photo Immanuel Tablas

The next day, my boyfriend and I went to the Ecomuseum Zoo in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. It’s the only outdoor zoo in Montreal, and features animals local to Quebec. I took photos all the way up and down the zoo. Before leaving, I took photos in a sled they had parked at the main entrance. It was then that I mastered smizing. To smize means to smile with your eyes, a term coined by Tyra Banks on America’s Next Top Model.

While the day itself was fun, I found myself constantly thinking where I could take my next photo. Because I wasn’t entirely present, I wasn’t able to fully enjoy the zoo.

On Boxing Day I did a mini haul on my story because I could not be brought to film a video. I couldn’t possibly stand in front of my phone describing the things I’d purchased with my family in the other room. How am I supposed to explain to my parents that I’m talking to my phone to show my followers what I spent my money on?

On my final day as a social media mogul, I went bowling with my boyfriend and his friends. We played two rounds, and afterwards I had a mini photoshoot in front of the empty bowling lanes. It was exceedingly uncomfortable posing for a photo with acquaintances and strangers surrounding me.

To wrap the night up, we went to a Korean barbecue restaurant. After we stuffed ourselves with an array of meats, fried buns arrived. Before anyone could start eating them, I announced: “Wait! I gotta take a picture first!”

To that, one of my boyfriend’s friends said, “Do you always take pictures of your food?”

And I said, “Not in real life.”

Over the course of the week I learned I’m not cut out for this. I hated making a spectacle out of myself when posing in public. Strangers would stare as they passed by, my discomfort growing after every shot was taken. If I didn’t have someone with me all the time to take my picture, I don’t think I would have tried this out at all.

I hated feeling the need to always look my best. I wore makeup every day that week, something I hadn’t done in months. It was fun to get creative with my outfits and put myself out there, but I won’t be turning to this for a career anytime soon.

Shoutout to the people who do this full-time. Couldn’t be me.