I recently celebrated the benchmark of 500 pictures that I have posted on Instagram. This is probably not a celebration to most people. In the grand scheme of things in the world, this is noteven a blip on the radar! However, I consciously choose to view life through, I guess you’d say ‘whimsical’ lenses. So with that said, it’s a celebratory moment for me! Especially after all of the countless hours dedicated to posting daily and creating quality content for my readers. I’m taking a moment to reflect and acknowledge what I’ve learned over the last 15 months while sharing my daily life via social media and blog posts.
FIRST// I’ve learned not to take myself so seriously
Shortly after I joined Instagram, the platform introduced what’s called ‘Stories’; in the moment pictures and 15 second videos with an urgency to watch because they expire in 24 hours. I began watching Stories, and I really enjoyed being in the moment with my favorite Instagrammers. Naturally, I began to capture videos and pictures from my own everyday doings. The only caveat is that unlike pictures, in a video, I can hear my own voice! Hearing myself on video took some getting used to. I have a deep voice, and I guess in my mind I hear it as much softer. I also noticed words that I use a little more than often, like “amazing”’, “so pretty”, “obsessed” and “in love with” (I know, gag me with a spoon! ;-). It also took some getting used to seeing myself through the reverse camera (selfie) lens, which if you didn’t know is a slightly distorted lens. It’s sometimes like looking at yourself in a fun house mirror!
You know, we can always count on ourselves to be our own worst critics. Like myself finding myself angling my head just enough so that my hair appeared more voluminous and my forehead not so long. This got old quickly. Today, I do a lot less of this, and simply roll with my deep voice because it’s mine, and if my hair is flat because it’s a super humid day, I just say “Y’all, My hairs is flat because it’s super humid today!” My forehead is going to look long in a distorted camera because I have an oval head, a part in the middle of my hair and no bangs; So be it! I don’t take myself nearly as serious as I used to ?
LATER// In “real life” I have “Instagram friends”
Here’s something that I never thought I’d say, and I even preface it with air quotes and chuckles when I do utter the words. But, yes, I have “Instagram friends” (insert chuckles ? One of the intangibles that I have found from social media is that you naturally follow people that you have things in common with. You may say, “Well duh, Shaunda!” But for me, I simply enjoyed creating whimsical pictures and sharing them. But let me please clarify; I am not anti-social, LOL! I am blessed to already have an outstanding and supportivegroup of girlfriends in “real life”. Some of them I’ve even known since childhood, and we’ve been through almost everything in life together. Hence, looking for new friends was not on my radar at all. Like most of the best things in life, it just naturally happened when I wasn’t expecting anything. For example, my “real life” girlfriends do not collect dishes and home decor like I do. In fact, my Bestie once referred to my prized MacKenzie-Childs collection as “Fairchild” brand! It’s nice to friend and keep up with my ladies online who do share my same passion for collecting. I’ve met up with several of these ladies out of town, some of us have gone out to dinner together, and I have even personal shopped for others! I have a “Gram friend” who lives in LA, and we are getting together on my next trip to Cali ?
The other group of my “Instagram friends” are bloggers and influencers like myself. We share the same challenges, triumphs and wows with respect to our work online. It’s such a relief to have this group of girls to talk to and get advice. My “real life friends” would have no idea what I’m talking about if I wanted to vent to them about the new Instagram algorithm or discuss what details should be included in my media kit!
I dance like nobody’s watching (and they probably shouldn’t ?
Let’s be clear. I’m a very social person “in real life”! But even as a social butterfly, I’ve found myself perched on new limbs since I’ve become an active participant on Instagram. I started this whole social media thing when on a whim, I dragged my family with me to a little town in upstate NY to attend a major event I’d never been to, shopping for myself and for other women that I’d never met! (Thank GOD it all went well!) True story: I was out of town and I posted some nostalgic videos with my family. I don’t think any of my followers knew it, but I was actually there for a funeral. I have a very spiritual family and we believe in celebrating life. I shared this part of my trip, full of love and laughter. This would have seemed taboo to me pre-Instagram. But in the moment, and just like that I was sharing the good times we were having. By doing so, it proved to be pure and organic therapy for myself in my time of a major loss.
Also out of my old comfort zone, when I’m reviewing a beauty product now, it’s so practical to video in the morning, at my bathroom vanity, and in my Mickey Mouse pajamas! I mean, I’ve gotten so comfortable sharing that it’s second nature for me to film and talk as I walk into a store at the risk of looking like I’m cray cray and talking to myself. But really, I’m making an Instagram video! Better yet, I don’t even mind posing for the camera in the middle of a public place because I can’t miss the opportunity to be photographed in this outfit by this particular scenery! Nope, I don’t mind at all. I love the liberating feeling of being confident enough to dance like nobody’s watching. I think I should also tell you that I really can’t dance; But one thing I always remember as a Mom is that we teach our kids by living out our dreams!
I do admit, though, that Instagram Live videos still scare me. I’ve only done a handful of these so far, and I had sweaty palms the whole way through! #2018Goals
FINALLY// Being famous on Instagram is like being rich in Monopoly
Overall, I’ve learned to enjoy The Gram for the creative stage that I can get on, with the option to open and close the curtains as I wish. I’m still finding my voice in this influencer/blogger world. That’s an exciting thing, and sometimes honestly a frustrating thing. I think there’s always that dream in the back of every influencer’s mind that our picture will go viral and be immediately discovered by a brand like Chanel or Hermès and they’ll exclaim that they have been waiting for someone with this much style and creativity, and they want to work with us right away! This dream is exactly what it is…dreamy. In talking with my fellow bloggers that have been successful in their own right and have been doing this for years and years now, they say that it definitely takes years of hard work, creativity and consistency. Of course, big brand collaborations are definitely attainable; usually not by sheer luck, though! To whom much is given, much is required.
I’m just a babe in this new world, and mostly it’s important for me to enjoy what I do. Therefore, I keep this reality check in my mind from a funny quote I read online. “Being famous on Instagram is basically the same as being rich in Monopoly.” If I were to gain a million followers today and become “well known” on The Gram, I’d still have to explain “in real life” who I am, what I do, and why the heck it even matters!
I hope you’ll follow me for 500 more posts and beyond! Thanks for watching as I enjoy the ride ?
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