A look at the week that was and a little insight into the #bloglife, sharing things I just can’t share anywhere else!
What’s on my mind this week…
Over the weekend something pretty amazing happened – I finally reached 10,000 followers on Instagram. I’m not sure of the exact date, but I must’ve joined Instagram around three or four years ago. In that time I’ve seen some very talented creators far surpass me, amassing huge followings and great engagement. There’s no denying, having hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers opens up a lot of opportunities.
Looking around me and seeing others do so well made me question myself. I’ve had a lot of brands turn me down and not want to work with me because I don’t have enough followers. They’ve told me they won’t work with anyone under 50k, 100k or, in one instance, 200k. It sucks because I know we have so much to offer but I get it. They’re a business and probably get requests from bloggers and Instagrammers all the time, so they want to maximise their ROI. Makes total sense!
But what it also did was make me feel inadequate. There were times I felt like my success was limited because I didn’t have enough Instagram followers. When I thought about why I didn’t have them, I could only blame myself. After all, they’re my photos. If people don’t like them, it must be my fault. I’m not taking good enough photos or writing interesting enough captions. Maybe if I was a bikini babe or an Insta-model I’d have more followers? Maybe if I was thinner, prettier, funnier, smarter or more interesting, I’d have more followers and then those brands would work with me.
My doubts and insecurities took over. It may sound weird, I mean, it’s just a social media platform for so many people, a fun app they use to share photos. For me, it’s a key part of my business and something brands find essential. I guess I felt like I was letting myself, Matt and our business down and, worst of all, holding us back. But here’s the thing, everything happens for a reason.
I believe, if something isn’t working out how you want, there’s a reason. There’s a blockage or something you aren’t seeing and, when that happens, you’ve got to look for the lesson or it’s just going to keep happening until you work it out. It took me a very long time to learn this very important lesson: happiness isn’t a number of likes and success isn’t a number of followers.
If I woke up tomorrow to find I had 1 million followers, I’d be absolutely thrilled! Then, I’d realise it came with a new set of challenges, which I can only imagine. Those challenges bring with them a new set of lessons I’m probably not ready to handle. I can also say, with absolute confidence, I would soon become unsatisfied with my 1 million. I’d want 2 million, I’d be upset I didn’t have 1 million subscribers on YouTube or 1 million views a month on the blog. I’d find something to be dissatisfied with because I hadn’t learned that true happiness comes from being thankful for what you have right now. If I can’t be happy with 10k, I don’t deserve to have 1m.
More importantly, I’ve learned my self-worth isn’t tied up in Instagram. I needed to stop fixating on it and untangle myself from it. I’m so proud of my business and all Matt and I have done to get here – that deep sense of pride and self-satisfaction is invaluable. It means everything to me and if someone said I had to choose between that and 1 million followers, I wouldn’t hesitate to delete Instagram.
I used to be so frustrated hearing brands say they didn’t want to work with me because I didn’t have ‘enough’ followers. I’d try to reason with them, explaining how an image is fleeting but a blog post continues to grow; it’s evergreen, searchable content that will be seen over and over by new readers each day. Finally, I realised it didn’t matter if they didn’t want to work with me. If what I have or what I do isn’t the right fit for them, it’s not personal, it’s business and I completely understand. So, I stopped worrying about it and started focusing my energy on brands who love what we do and it is far more fulfilling than feeling like you have to prove yourself.
Here’s the thing, we already have everything we need to be happy. There’s a great quote that goes something like, ‘A man said to the Buddha, “I want Happiness.” Buddha said, “first remove “I”, that’s ego, then remove “want,” that’s desire. Now, you’re left with Happiness.” Apparently, that quote is a fake, but I still like the idea behind it. Happiness already is. We already have it inside us and if we can’t see that, no number of likes, new clothes, fancy cars or big houses are ever going to change it.
There’s a great documentary on Netflix called, ‘Happy.’ Matt and I watched it on New Year’s Eve a couple years back and it had a big impact on us. In it, the filmmakers asked people from all walks of life what happiness meant to them. They found a family living in the slums of India. Their lives were modest, they earned very little and lived under tarp’s set up among thousands of others. But they were incredibly happy, smiling and laughing, talking about how wonderful their lives were. They don’t give a flying rat’s behind about Instagram or any material crap because they know true happiness doesn’t come from those things.
What I’m trying to say is, those things don’t matter. What matters is doing something you love simply because you love it. What matters is being thankful for everything you already have and allowing yourself to be happy in each moment. So, I just want to say a huge thank you to 10,000 incredible people who, unknowingly, helped me learn a very valuable life lesson. Thank you.
Watch the brand new video up on our YouTube channel this week!
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.