I feel like “authentic” is the buzz word of the moment. You can’t go to any creative conference or read any article about how to grow your social media following without hearing “Just be authentic”. But the longer I stay around this space, the less authenticity I experience as a consumer of social media.
I started this blog as a place to document my daughter’s lives. I’ve never been good with journals and I lose every notebook I ever pick up so this made the most sense. I also started it with the hopes of building a following and working with brands. I got pregnant right out of college with Edith so by the time I had LIlah, I was starting to see my absence of a career as something that might become a problem for me in the future. I was only 24 when I had Edith and I did not want to be an empty nester in my 40’s biding my time until my kids came home for the holidays.
My hope was, that by working with brands and creating relationships, I’d create a path to segue into a career that I had initially gone to school for. Maybe I’d end up in Brand Development but as Instagram grew, I saw it as a way to parlay a position in Content Creation or Influencer Marketing.
In the beginning I’ll admit that I did a lot of posed photos. I threw my girls in bonnets and rompers because thats what everyone else was doing and talked about how perfect motherhood was. What I didn’t tell anyone was that I was drowning under the weight of PPD, missing my friends back on the West Coast, feeling like my marriage was falling apart, and wishing that I would wake up and things would be different.
And once the fog lifted and things got better with my marriage and I started taking care of myself I finally felt a greater connection than ever to my blog. I felt inspired again. I loved working and felt that for the first time in a long while, I had something new and I think that that translated across these silly little squares on an app.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” – Brené Brown
But then the Instagram algorithm changed and suddenly I found myself depressed about my engagement rate and comparing myself to everyone who was still growing. I put all of my value that I had worked so long and hard to acquire in the hands of some numbers on my phone. And with people buying likes/followers, doing loop giveaways that can cost up to $900 to gain 20k followers at a time, and engagement groups, I’m left wondering is this the game I want to play? Is this the reason I started everything to begin with? Is it even about sharing and creating unique content anymore or do I just have to create the same generic image with some bullshit caption that I know will get likes?
And does anyone even want to see real anymore?
To be honest, I’m not sure. I know I came here looking for inspiration and hoping to inspire others. I don’t share everything here, nor do I want to but I do want to genuinely connect. I have had late night DM’s with other women here about my marriage, my insecurities, my questions about motherhood. I’ve actually had the chance to meet some of these incredibly inspiring women who are so genuinely beautiful inside and out. And I feel like if this is all I ever gain from this space, then the entire journey was worth it.
I don’t want to discount the side of me that loves the connections and the content I’ve created. I’m so proud of what I’ve done in this space. I love sitting down, writing out my thoughts, brainstorming ideas, and nurturing the creative side of myself. So now at the end of this whole rant, I’m not entirely sure where this leaves me (or if I’m even making sense). I’m texting with a close friend (and fellow blogger) as I type this and having some serious thoughts on whether this has stayed a positive outlet for me any more or if I’m just using the numbers and engagement from other people as a measure of my worth. So I’m just going to take it slow, play by my own rules, and see how I’m feeling after some time.
Photo by Heather Moore.