How Instagram Helped Me Get Over A Breakup

by Colette Hanna
Three women taking a selfie while pouting their lips and standing next to each other on the street

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who believes breakups (even the most amicable ones) are easy. In addition to losing a companion and friend, so often, one can lose their sense of self and confidence. And while there's no tried-and-true manual on how to get over a heartbreak, sometimes you find solace in the most unlikely places ... like social media. Such was the case for Colette Hanna — also known as Coco Marie. Ahead, the marketing-executive-turned-Instagram-darling, explains how the mega platform helped her recover from a broken heart.

My last serious relationship was a doozy. He was three years older than me; we were dating for three years, but not yet living together. I had just finished grad school, got a job in the entertainment industry, and felt like I was really blossoming. And while my career was taking off, my boyfriend's wasn’t — and I think he started to feel left behind.

One day, he came over in tears and confessed to not only cheating on me but also getting someone pregnant. His reasoning was that he felt like he wasn't a priority to me anymore and that I was not there for him as much as I was in the past because of my full-time job. (We got together when I was in grad school, and it's obviously easier to spend time together when you're a student.) When I could no longer spend all the time in the world with him he handled it badly and looked for attention somewhere else.

Needless to say, I broke up with him immediately, right then and there. I just couldn't be with someone who could tell me they loved me one day and essentially start a family behind my back on another. Like I said, it was a doozy.

Here's the thing: Anytime you’re cheated on, it’s gonna be a big slap in the face. But to discover that as a smart, accomplished person who’s just trying to better yourself and be successful you can’t have that and be in a successful relationship, it really takes its toll on you. It kind of sabotages you mentally and you start to think things like, "Oh, if I have another relationship, should I not devote myself as thoroughly to my career?

When someone cheats on you they take a bit of you, so I was really sad and down for awhile. I had hobbies and I had friends, but I needed to put my energy into something else. I personally don’t like to vent too much to my friends, as it simply does not help me. I’m not a person who likes sympathy. So at one point, I just said to myself, “Enough’s enough. What are you doing? You can’t wallow in this.” I needed something to take my mind off the present and take the power back. I needed to do something for me.

One night, I was shopping with a friend, and multiple curvy, plus-sized girls walked up to me asking where my outfit was from. I went back to my place and told my friend, “I’m gonna start an Instagram page.” She really encouraged and championed the idea — and that’s really how it all started. It was never something I had aspirations of doing before, but I just got this sudden urge to give it a shot.

I started my Instagram page on Memorial Day weekend 2016, about three months after the breakup. For me, the account was always two-fold in terms of purpose: It was a way for me to channel my energy into something positive, but it also was meant to empower me and others. I love fashion and I love beauty but, most of all, I love talking to other women who perhaps are never told that it’s OK to look the way they look.

Keep in mind that I had a full-time job that I loved, so this was something I did on the weekends — I had no idea it would grow the way it did. By July of 2016 (just a couple months after I started), I had over 11,000 followers. I honestly attribute that rapid success to the fact that I wear clothes and outfits that resonates with people in real life. I'm not just wearing designer clothes and accessories. I choose pieces from brands like Old Navy, Target, and Fashion Nova, and I think the relatability makes people pay attention.

It's unrealistic for anyone to say they feel confident every day, but my self-esteem definitely improved as I got more established in the space. Yes, it feels great to get affirmations from other people, but being able to communicate the best parts of myself to people has probably been the best part of this whole experience. Whatever I’m telling women in my DMs just re-educates me on things I already know. For example, if I’m encouraging someone to be confident, why would I not do the same? In that moment, I’m reaffirming myself on the same topic.

These days, so many people are jumping into the Instagram influencer space. And while I think it can be an incredible creative outlet, I think it’s so important to know your intentions before you start something like this. Know your goals from the start and know who you are before you do it. If someone is extremely vulnerable and they jump right into without knowing what they want to accomplish, it can be dangerous. I’ve seen a lot of women tormented daily and I really worry about their mental state. Instagram can absolutely work against you and make you walk away more insecure.

I myself have had my own share of negative moments and feelings, especially when I get hate over my pictures. Sometimes I fight it and think, Why am I listening to people online? But, I'm also human. When I see all that rhetoric and commentary it absolutely affects me. So, I definitely combat that, but when I start to think negatively about myself, I'll just go back to my pictures and look at them very closely. I'll give myself a pep talk and say, "You look great in that bikini and these people mean nothing. They can kick rocks."

As for romance and dating, I definitely know what I won’t settle for this time around, and I think that mindset is all due to the place that I am in with my life, career, and Instagram page. I feel like everything’s going for me. I’ve manifested that and no one is pulling any strings.

As I’ve re-entered the dating world, I always try to remember who I am and that I can’t control what other people are going to do. I think that’s what a lot of people forget — we live with the belief that we can “keep” someone. But, it’s not our job to keep our partners. They are not to be kept. They should want to stay or want to be there, and vice-versa. I want someone who can complement my life and not take anything away or push me down. I want someone who is proud me and my success.