I’ve always wanted to create. Since I was eight years old, I would lay awake at night dreaming with my eyes wide open. I knew that I had the capability of inspiring others around me but I didn’t know how to make that dream a reality. Unfortunately, eight-year-old me wasn’t aware that the how-to’s lied right inside of myself. The dream of making it as a Youtube star never left my mind, but as I got older my dream felt farther and farther out of my reach. I cared far too much about what others around me thought of me than what I actually thought of myself.
It wasn’t until I was sixteen that I felt more comfortable putting myself online- doing various photoshoots with my friends at the local beaches. It’s insane to think about now because at the time our parents were driving us to these rendezvous points to take pictures with an iPhone 7 plus. When I put it into terms like that, it makes everything I do today that much more rewarding. It just goes to show that if you really want something bad enough, you’ll stay on your grind to make it happen. At the time, I never gave much thought to what I was doing, but four years later, I realize that even back then, I was trying to build a brand for myself.
At the beginning of my junior year, a lot of my older friends had graduated and moved away to start their lives at new schools in new cities. For the first time, I feel like I really hit rock bottom. Looking at it now, it was completely stupid to get this torn up about my friends leaving, but at sixteen it felt like the absolute end of the world. It’s funny how you have to hit an ultimate low in life before you decided that it’s time to start picking yourself up. I decided to start focussing on myself and that ultimately meant going to the gym everyday. I began sharing and posting my fitness journey with others, and it soon became a hit. Not only was fitness a coping mechanism for myself, but it also paved the way for my creative self to flourish. I started posting about my progress on several different media(s) and gained a lot of traction from all corners of the Earth building a small, but engaged niche audience. Even though, I’ve been back and forth with fitness since then, I was able to gain just the right amount of confidence I needed to get myself out of my rut. Since then, I’ve lived every day trying to inspire others around me to break free from their own selves.
I believe that my professional self is exactly who I am as a person. I’ve been working up to this moment in time for twelve years to actively put myself online, and everything I share is completely and 100% authentically me. I never post work that I don’t believe in, and at the end of the day if I can just put a smile on one persons face then that’s enough for me. Much like ‘Slacks Secret Sauce,’ there is no secret sauce to becoming successful online (Wilkinson, 2017). The great thing about the web is that everyone starts out on an equal playing field-nobody starts an account with followers, or a dedicated fan base. I wish someone would’ve told eight-year-old me that there was no secret, that every tool I needed to succeed lies within.
To think about my first few photoshoots shamelessly posing in front of an iPhone 7 plus, to now also shamelessly posing in front of commercial grade cameras and video cameras working with some of the most talented creators in Vancouver- nothing’s really changed. My dream remained the same, but my grind and work ethic just got harder. Growing my audience hasn’t been the easiest task at times, but I promised myself that no matter what- I would continue to push my own creative content, rather than just creating what’s popular. By staying authentic from the start, I’ve been able to organically grow my brand as well as my number of real followers. I focus on building what Kevin Kelly deems as, “True Fans” rather than just picking up likes and comments (2008).
To this day, I wish I started earlier. I used to constantly remind myself of this in the past, but what I came to realize was that I wasn’t ready to begin. I needed to completely strip myself down as a human before I was able to put myself online. The truth is, who I am offline is exactly the same person as I am online. There is no worlds-apart difference between either persona. I am me, and all I can do is be the best me I can be.
I am so unbelievably lucky to have broken free of my own creative constraints.
Kelly, K. (2008, March 4). The Technium: 1,000 True Fans. Retrieved from https://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/
Wilkinson, A. (2019, June 20). Slack’s $25 Billion Dollar Secret Sauce. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@awilkinson/slack-s-2-8-billion-dollar-secret-sauce-5c5ec7117908#.2pzdc0z38