If we’re ever going to talk about my obsession with Beyoncé, it’s now or never. I’m not sure if there’s a woman whose passion, drive and talent I admire more than hers. Her attention to detail, be it in her musicality, stage design or live performance, is what draws in crowds by the millions; crowds that are not only interested in her music, but her life as a whole.
For some people, that public interest is exciting and welcome – they thrive under the spotlight. For others, that sort of attention is simply terrifying.
The truth is, had I a clue how public my life would eventually be when I wrote my very first blog post back in 2012, I’m not sure I would have pressed ‘upload’ quite as quickly.
Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and thanks to social media I now have a channel to create and share content so that in my own small way I can illuminate the world. I just never quite envisioned that it would come with being so highly visible.
My journey as a digital and social media influencer started off as a fun passion project and since everything takes place online, the numbers didn’t ring true until I started running into my readers in supermarket isles, at airports and everywhere in between. It was exciting getting to meet my audience (and still is) but the more I run into them, the more pressure I felt. I started to second guess my outfit choices and whether I would live up to the Instagram feed I so carefully curated.
This must sound odd but even though I saw the numbers on the backend growing, it hadn’t quite dawned on me that it was actual living, breathing people that were coming to my platforms. I created my blog with no specific intention other than wanting a distraction at the time, but the more this community grew, the more responsible I felt for this space I had carved out for myself on the internet. I had to be accountable for the energy that I brought to my platform and I needed to be clear about my intentions.
The thing with this beast that is social media is that it has the power to build your dreams to unfathomable heights in the same way it can swallow you whole. I’m a highly introverted individual and some of the ways I reserve my energy is by keeping my circle of friends small and taking time out for myself regularly. And yet ironically, my career is based on how many people I’m able to connect with and speak to. Which means on one hand, I’m happy to spend most of the time at home, hang out with the exact same people over and over, and guard the most intimate moments between myself and my loved ones. But on the other hand, if I don’t switch on the camera and reveal these moments, or if I choose to keep some parts to myself, then my authenticity and realness come into question.
There is a constant dance between these contradictions and I often find myself having to stop and think twice before I upload anything online. Should I share images of my daughter? Can I post a picture of myself in a bikini? Am I showing too much of my home? Do I let myself be seen (and I mean, really be seen) and forge the most authentic connection with my audience or do I guard my space and energy from the darkness that often looms online? I now know that there is no right or wrong answer; only what feels true and honest to you.
This internal conflict really started to get overwhelming and although business was going well, I decided to take a step back from social media in the last quarter of 2016. The decision to do so was daunting and after four consecutive years of constantly sharing everything with the public, it also felt strange. But it was necessary, and I took this time to explore the delicate balance between being my truest self and knowing when to hold back.
I won’t deny the perks that come with being in the public eye including amazing trips, incredible PR gifts and the opportunity to network with talented industry titans. Not to mention the fact that it’s amazing having an online community who are incredibly supportive and loving. But you also quickly realize that this kind of public interest comes with curiosities and expectations that you may not always satisfy. And that’s ok. In fact, that might be one of the greatest lessons of my social media journey: that I can’t and shouldn’t strive to please everyone. In the last one week, for example, I’ve seen comments describing me and/or my content as boring, safe, petty, uptight and dramatic. And that’s just in the past one week. If I were to appease each and every person who clicks on my content, my therapist would be on my speed dial!
Having drowned out the noise from that one year away, I came back with a new vision and a few rules that I now live by when it comes to social media. For starters, I have set very clear intentions when it comes to my content. My focus is to create visual stories that uplift, inform and entertain my audience. I live by those three words and everything I do draws back to that.
Second, I try and nurture my relationship with my viewers and readers through authenticity, engagement and consistency. It also means I’m a lot more transparent when it comes to paid advertising and will always reveal if a post is sponsored or not.
I’m also a lot more deliberate about what I choose to share and when. I no longer feel the need to share everything or explain myself which I often struggled with before. I felt indebted to my community to the point that I couldn’t step out of the house without makeup lest I disappoint them. A lot has changed since then and I know now more than ever it’s important to release my grip on perfection. Who wants to live in a crippling world that draws from others’ agendas and not your own values or intentions?
Social media is a powerful tool but depending on where you stand, you can either be a slave to the “likes” or a master of it. I have a profound respect for those who seem to have understood the delicate balance it takes to navigate this space uniquely and profitably. It’s the reason Beyoncé can drop an album with no warning and cause such a stir that it breaks the internet (and her bank) within minutes. Not many public personas have found the perfect blend of openness and mystery to create the perfect allure.
I won’t claim to be an expert in this field but I’m well on my journey. I have found my voice and niche, and want to use it to pursue my calling to the betterment of others.
It’s not news that we like to talk about ourselves and I think that’s why social media is the King that it is. Who doesn’t want to share that scrumptious dessert they just had or release those adorable pictures of their baby? Just remember, not everything that comes to your mind deserves to be online.