Harleen Singh, opens up about her personal life, and how she keeps up with social media expectations on a regular basis
Harleen Singh, more popularly known as @wander_leen, entrepreneur, travel blogger, and mom to two dogs, leads a sunshiny and hunky-dory life. Or at least that is what people believe from a look at her Instagram page. Her positive image, and her optimistic vision, “takes conscious effort,” says Harleen.
After wrapping up her business and feeding her dogs Glen and Whiskey, Harleen Singh sits down for a brief conversation with Patriot, on how she handles her social media following, and how she deals with the kind of attention her relationship gets on Instagram.
Her Instagram journey started quite unexpectedly, in May of 2017, a few years after she had decided that she did not want to pursue her CA studies, and had been travelling solo for a while already. “It was Audi, who told me to start posting my travel pictures on Instagram,” she says. Harleen and Auditya got married in late 2017, and since then have been hailed as ‘couple goals’ on Instagram.
Auditya Venkatesh, her husband, bona fide photographer, already had a giant following on social media. So of course, when he announced his wedding, many of his fans and followers went into a tizzy, wondering about who he was getting married to. And since Harleen’s followers had just started to pick up because of her travel blogging, this presented an ideal opportunity for their followers to create a ‘ship’ (when two notable people in a relationship are celebrated, or when the audience wants to see them in one)!
“I’m not really a social media person….” she admits, “the only famous person I follow is probably Audi!” she says with a laugh. With over 55,500 followers, she follows less than 300 accounts. She started out by posting pictures of her trips to Thailand and Canada, but eventually, those stopped. “I love travelling, but it’s not possible for me to be travelling all the time,” she explains, “I like spending time with my family, and it is also a financial challenge to fund trips constantly!” So now, she posts regularly about her everyday life, accompanied by positive, inspirational messages.
How does the fact that her relationship has been put on a pedestal make her feel? Well, turns out she hardly thinks about it. She explains, “Audi and I are separate people and we have separate lives. I’m not putting up pictures of my husband and me for likes or follows.” She doesn’t decide her content based on the feedback she gets, its far more organic than that. “If I were to ever go back on the road for a solo trip, I’ll put those pictures up then!” she reasons. Her posts are a reflection of her life and thoughts at the time, and that’s all she wants it to be. “I can’t lie for the sake of social media,” she stresses, “if something were to go wrong or turn sour in our lives, I would take my time with it, but I wouldn’t lie about it.” She adds a whispered “touchwood” for good measure.
“People have unreal expectations from our relationship just because every aspect of it is not visible on my social media,” says Harleen. “Audi and I are very normal people! And of course we fight and quarrel…we even pull each other’s hair! But of course I won’t put that online! Not because I am ashamed, but simply because — what’s the point?”
She recalls an incident when one of her followers got in touch with her to talk about his relationship. According to him, his life was a lot like Harleen and Auditya’s, as he was a photographer and his girlfriend a travel enthusiast; one of them was from the south of India and the other from the north.
Harleen was baffled! “I had to ask him, what else did he have that made them like Audi and me?” She explained that the travelling and the photography isn’t the reason that her relationship with her husband works. “And just because we happen to be happy and in love, doesn’t mean that everyone else with these qualities will too…” This conversation inspired her latest post, in which she discusses how every relationship is unique, which is why taking example from or comparing oneself to other couples, “especially those on social media” is never a good idea.
Harleen goes on to say that she does not indulge in posting negative or triggering content. “If I am at a point in my life where I am low, or I’m dealing with something personal, I just go off the grid,” she reveals. There was a time a couple of months ago, when @wander_leen was nowhere to be seen on social media for about 20 days. She reveals that she was dealing with depression at the time and wanted to keep to herself. She posted about her break from social media as well as her recovery, but only after she had pulled her self together enough to do it in a positive way.
She wants to keep away from pointless arguments and hate, and avoids them even in the direct messages or comments. “Don’t get me wrong, if someone says something I strongly disagree with, I give it back to them personally! But not in public. I don’t want my feed to become the kind of place where fights are picked.”
The tag she carries today of a ‘social media influencer’ is one that happened by default. “I honestly just post exactly how I feel. After I stopped travelling I started putting up pictures of my everyday life — me, the places I go, my dogs, my husband.” She tries to be responsible with her posts because her following is quite significant — but not to the point where the feedback starts to matter more than her reality. She tries her best to use the platform to spread positivity, and that’s exactly what she does even with the posts about her relationship. They are as much relevant for her followers’ personal growth, as they are for those of them in relationships.