The internet is full of it. Do this to attract followers. You are the brand. Here’s the key to understanding the algorithms. Put this in your newsletter. Use these hashtags and you’ll be successful.
Everybody tells you not to compare yourself to others. Heck, I’ve even written those very words in blog posts. The problem is that we live in a world where comparing ourselves is one click away. It’s much too easy to disregard the fact that what we see on social media is largely posed and rarely authentic, but okay. Additionally, we were raised to always be hustling (under pressure of being able to retire by 40) and those same people we compare ourselves to are also always a click away. They’ll know when we fail, which adds to the pressure, which amplifies the need to win the damn algorithms. Success, success, success.
So, we build these neat little boxes we have to fill, then freak out when we realise we don’t fit in the box. Not because we’re not enough–no. Because the box isn’t moulded to our shapes. But they don’t want you to know that.
We’re given the script, we break our heads trying to act it out, and then, when we think we’ve finally figured it out, the damn script changes.
Which brings me to this post. I try. Use the hashtags. Follow the formulas. Sign up for course after course, read books on the subject, listen to the podcasts and watch the YouTubers. Screw the fact that I’m uncomfortable commenting on stuff posted by people I don’t know, or that blogging to a formula has stolen my passion for writing, or that the themes are stifling, or that me being the brand is one of the scariest concepts out there. I am the brand? My life is boring. 90% of the time, I’m wearing sweatpants, I have like an inch of regrowth–my hair isn’t even clean–and yesterday’s coffee stains are still on my shirt. My life isn’t instagramable. I am no brand.
But if I want to succeed, I have to conform, otherwise the algorithm won’t work for me.
I follow the script.
And I’m tired.
It used to be simple. I’d snatch a pic, add a filter, share on Instagram. I’d have a thought, write a post, blog it. I didn’t even have a newsletter. Everything changed once I’d learned about hashtags and themes and posting schedules. The art part of me had to be split away from the writer part of me, because the reading audience doesn’t want to see art, and vice versa. I sat on photos of our hiking trips, food, or the oregano plant I’m so proud of, because nobody wanted to see that. The immigrant part of me didn’t get as much screen time, because the writers attracted to my blog don’t want to read about my history. The more I tried to fit into the box, the less it was me. Ironic, considering I’m the brand.
I used to love doing this. Writing posts, taking pics and sharing them, and being authentically me, even on the internet. I’ve been filtering myself so severely that I wonder if I’ll ever learn to stop doing it, but I’m just so tired of the censorship.
And beyond being tired, I don’t have time. Being a mother and wife; running a household; writing novels; being my own publicist, marketing team, and social media manager; running two Instagram accounts, a Facebook page, newsletter, and a blog; and being a well-balanced, mentally stable person is adding up to be too much.
I can’t. Then I neglect my blog, but feel so bad about it that I can’t come back because the readers will judge me (if you’ve been around awhile, you’ll know how many new approaches to blogging ended up here in the last year or two). Or I don’t post anything on my Insta feeds for months, then apologise in the first five posts because I feel like absolute shit about disappearing. Only to disappear again.
Or I can’t write my novel, because I’m so stressed about being the brand and living the shareable life that I have zero energy left. I can’t write, folks. Besides my family, writing is everything to me, everything, and I can’t do it because the pressure of living a shareable life has stolen the ability.
I had an enlightening moment today. Clarity. I don’t fit in the box, and I don’t need to. That box wasn’t even made for me. And, you know, why would I even want to be in the box? Hello, it’s better where the view’s at.
Thank you for the script, every guru on the internet, but this is it for me. I’ve finished my last scene, and am looking forward to leaving the set.
So I’ll try something new, yet familiar. This is me tossing the formulas and how to’s, and going back to basics. My feeds will change. My posts will become more personal again. And I’m going to stop being the brand, and focus on being me.
Hi. I’m Yolandie. Welcome to my journey.
Ps. On the odd chance that the box is stifling you, too. I hope this gives you the courage to get the hell out of it. I hope you find the spark again, and stop following the script.