Here's the thing. I depend WAY too much on the approval of others.
I think we all do, but the amount of reliance differs for every person. For me, it's the confidence boost I get from posting a photo on Instagram and receiving all those sought-after likes and comments. This faux-approval from people I don't even know makes me happy, it makes me feel like a good photographer, and it solidifies that what i'm shooting is pleasing to my audience. Contradictorily, it also makes me anxious, insecure, and dependent. I don't post (or shoot) what I realllllly love. I shoot what makes me feel safe, and I post what I know is pleasing to my followers. It's a nasty cycle.
and let me say this straight from the get-go. Instagram is a wonderful tool. I love the community it brings and have met some of my closest friends on it. It's also the way I was first approached by agencies and the way I book the majority of my clients; so I would never want to bash it. I'm not writing this blog because I have some beef with social media or wish it didn't exist. I'm writing this to admit that there is something flawed in my thinking. I'm writing this with the intent of changing my people-pleasing mentality and potentially other's who may be in the same boat.
Everything I've been learning lately leads me to believe that in order to find yourself creatively, you gotta put your middle fingers up and do you.
I don't want to be the best [insert trend here] photographer. I don't want to be amazing at shooting what other people are shooting. I want to be the best at what I'M shooting – and focus on shooting things that no one else is shooting. Because of that, I have decided to temporarily step away from social media. Yep, one full month without Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or anything else that shows me what other people are working on. For one month, I won't be able to look at any of my favorite photographer's work. I won't be able to get inspiration from outside sources. I will have to sit here and come up with my own ideas - and as dumb as it sounds, that's really scary to me.
Creating art that is new, art that other people aren't doing, opens yourself up to criticism and unsolicited feedback. You're pouring your heart into something and praying that all these random people don't hate it (or unfollow you, god forbid). I'm so tired of this mentality and i'm dedicating this month to changing it.
In the last week and a half of being off social media, I've been more productive, taken more walks, pursued other things (like learning Spanish), read two books, worked on side hustles, and all around felt far less anxious during my day-to-day. It's been great!
The thing is, though, I can't stay away from social media forever. It's the main way I book clients and it's 2017.. if you don't have a social media presence you're basically not even human. Even though I'll eventually log back on, I do think this month will show me that I don't need to spend several hours a day on it. I don't need to rely on the approval of strangers to boost my confidence. I don't need to constantly check on latest post to make sure it's receiving the most engagement possible. I just need to embrace ME. I need to figure out what gives me life, regardless of if people like it or not.