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This question comes from a few months of therapy, where some of the issues (I’m willing to share) that I covered were: how to keep Instagram separate from my private life, how to set appropriate boundaries and whether or not the values that social media tends to promote really assimilate with my own. The first one was probably the hardest for me – I was thrown into this full time and that’s when the barriers between my personal and professional life started to break down. All my friends are influencers, 90% of my daily conversations took place on this app or were about Instagram. I love my friends, but the rest really is as sad and lonely as it sounds. I have always struggled with anxiety but more so last year, when I felt like I was pulled in different directions by voices that silenced my own. This combined with a number of traumatic incidences – relived and fresh – meant that my already fragile sense of identity was shattered. Living on social media, without knowing who you are, is a very dangerous place to be.
Then there are boundaries: knowing when you’re allowed to get mad at a DM or something on Stories, and then drawing a protective line. Knowing when to say something or to simply ‘unfollow’. Over time, I was somewhat influenced to believe that I was extremely lucky to do this job, as if by a stroke of luck I could write and style, and people happen to like my ideas. Any opposition I felt or voiced, I was made to feel that I was ungrateful and that my emotions weren’t valid. After all, it’s only virtual… isn’t it?
Then there were the values. For example, I’m quite anti-consumerist, which is why I prefer to keep a small wardrobe at home and shoot editorials for Instagram. Personally, I’d rather share inspirational images than ones that push my audience to constantly buy new things. I like shopping as much as the next person but I’m hyper conscious of what I endorse. To be honest, it’s not the most commercially viable route to take if you’re going to make social media your livelihood.
This is not a play-me-a-sad-violin kind of post. It’s to say that despite having a stake in social since 2011, when I started The Haute Heel, a lot has changed. To the point that I don’t think I have the personality (I fluctuate between ENFJ and INFJ) to go full force, whole-heartedly into this world like I did last year – albeit blindly with a heavy dose of naivety. I’m all about pragmatism but I’ve also had to learn in psychological terms where to ‘assert my boundaries’. This is an amazing milestone for someone like me that is 89% Turbulent than Assertive, on the Meyers-Briggs personality test!
Last week I recorded a podcast with Anna Syren and Bianca Derhy about what personalities are best suited to being an influencer. When I discovered that perhaps, I didn’t have the fibre to thrive in this environment, initially I broached the subject to acquaintances. Their response was that we’re individuals, which is precisely why our audiences follow us. You know, that whole idea of ‘there is only one you in this world and that is your power’. It’s true, but for my personality type, it’s impractical. The girls and I talk about how it’s much more than hustling, content creation and brokering deals with brands and services. The part that your personality type needs to contend with, is that everything we do is deeply personal. Oftentimes you’re made to feel you have to prove your worth, so are you ‘strong’ enough in your identity to handle that? Then there’s that certain level of discernment required with every interaction. Discernment of what and who is actually valuable and/or genuine. Where everything you say is forensically analysed. It’s a gossipy industry. Are you a good judge of character? Do you rule your emotions or is it the other way around?
All of this while the spotlight is on you, where your energy, hair and wardrobe have to always be on point. So maybe that part is not so much personality, but how much you accept other people’s need for keeping up appearances. This is not to say that there aren’t amazing aspects of being a content creator or blogger, of course there are. This is why we continue to pursue our dreams. But you can always see the shiny, glamorous parts. It’s the raw, uglier side that we don’t often show you. Until now, with one of the most unfiltered conversations any of us have ever published.
Find out if you would struggle living life on Instagram, listen to Girl Talk Monday with Bianca and Anna.
images shot by @avdrvyk