Yes, I Only Have 600 Followers, but...

 
Necklace by  Pakera Pakera

Necklace by Pakera Pakera

 

I’ll always remember a conversation I had when I was in grade two with my best friend at the time. We were discussing what we wanted to be when we grew up and her answer was that she wanted “to be famous.” I remember at the time that my always logical young mind couldn’t process this without begging the question, “but what do you want to be famous for?”

She didn’t know how or why she would be famous, but she knew she wanted notoriety, and bravo to second graders for that unapologetic conviction and clarity of purpose!

As I look back at where the past year has taken me, and where I hope to go in the year ahead, I’m reminded of this exchange.

When I started this venture, I was reticent to call it a blog. I didn’t even post to Instagram for the first year for fear of being seen as someone who was under the illusion that they would become an “Influencer” with a capital I.

That word has essentially become vilified as someone who wants to be famous for doing nothing but posting pictures of themselves in cute outfits in front of mural walls. But in reality, it takes a lot of hard work, talent and strategy to become “famous” this way. And I think that’s admirable. In truth, I know my reluctance was more about doubting my ability to step up to that task. Part of the beauty of this endeavor has been removing that block brick by brick.

As my younger self can attest to, I certainly didn’t go into this wanting to be famous, but I did want to find connection, purpose and to share the stories of those who inspire me and I can proudly say I’ve accomplished that. Sure, I only have about 600 followers, sometimes it’s 599, sometimes it’s 610. Most high schoolers have more than this!

And yes, it’s incredibly frustrating and discouraging when you put your heart into something and post it only to gain two followers and lose five who have been playing the follow/unfollow game in the hopes of gaining followers of their own.

But I’m not here to play into that shallow game. Ultimately, I’m just thankful that the mediums of Instagram and blogging exist so that I can share my contribution. Because my answer to the “what do you want to be when you grow up” question was to be a writer. And then I wanted to be a jewelry designer. And a stylist. And a photographer. I trained in all of these disciplines and have been lucky enough to be able to merge them in my day job.

What brings me true joy though is being able to use all of these skills in this passion project to tell the stories of the beautiful humans whom I’ve met in the past year; the ones who have also explored many paths that ultimately brought them back to the calling they’ve had in their hearts since they were that little second grader.

My seven-year-old self is so happy that I got to connect with and share the stories of designers like Madhuri Parson, Jessica Biales, Amanda Mounser and Baylee Zwart of Azlee (stay tuned for stories from the last two soon, thank you Gia Gazzola!). Ditto the engagement story of my friends Chelsea and Mark and the magic that Jared and Alisa Klusner and Nikki Glick create at Erstwhile Jewelry.

I was honored to feature friends old and new, including Eileen Feighny, Jen McKelvie and Monika Kalytyte. And I continue to be inspired by my friend Sarah Sutton and the memory of her mother Carol McMaster and her fabulous jewelry.

I’ve been able to create some beautiful friendships through these exchanges. I value that immensely and it has energized me for the year ahead. Thank you to everyone who shared their stories and support with me this past year, it has meant so much to me.

Of course I would love to have more followers, but mostly just so I can bring a bigger audience to the work and stories of these incredibly talented and special individuals. Sappy, sure. Genuine? Absolutely. And that’s why I keep doing it.