I can’t believe it’s been 6 years since starting TBB!
On this day in 2013, I made the decision to step out of my comfort zone & place myself on a platform that had no guaranteed trajectory as a career. It’s amazing how much has changed in just 6 years alone. What I started as a hobby to help me land an internship ended up becoming my full-time job! Just goes to show that the possibilities are endless when you work hard & do what you love.
Every year, I write out a recap of what each year has meant for me while on this journey that continues to change my life. This time, I’m focusing on 6 things that I’ve learned on this adventure of a lifetime, which continue to help pioneer my drive & motivation to post (almost) 5 days a week, every month, of every year thus far & beyond.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVITY
Not every day is filled with rainbows of sponsored brand collaborations, free product, parties, & whatever else you see on IG. In fact, most days are consumed with negativity – whether it be your internal ‘Debbie Downer’ mindset creeping in or externally through comments left by trolls & close-minded individuals doubting your abilities. I’m not someone who enjoys being unhappy, in fact I’m the person who pretends to be happy when I’m not as a defense against sadness.
But that doesn’t mean I’m immune to the negativity of what comes with being an influencer. Instead, I made cutbacks to eliminate anything that threatens my happiness. This meant ending certain relationships, personally & professionally, that fogged my focus or tried to undermine me. It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary to do as it was under my control. I’m still teaching myself to not let the strangers on IG get to me, but I remind myself that I can’t allow people’s insecurities to determine what I’ve always set out to do – inspire through personal experience & connect with those who can relate.
STAY IN YOUR LANE
When I made the decision to branch out from sharing just outfits to incorporating lifestyle on TBB, I faced the challenge of determining what exactly I’d be including to this category. What I learned quickly is that there’s no benefit in trying to label yourself as an influencer who does everything; food, fitness, travel, home decor, beauty, etc. While I’ve shared a handful of posts in each of those subtopics, It also opened my eyes to the idea that trying to cover all kinds of content can appear disorganized & inconsistent.
The truth is I’m not a foodie, I wish I travelled more but I don’t, and I’m far from a beauty guru. So why try to force those topics of conversation? I workout every other day, adore furnishing my apartment, and find sharing blog tips & good skincare routines more rewarding. Therefore, my efforts are better situated discussing what comes naturally to me; resulting in better content for my readers who are coming to TBB for those topics over the others.
EXPECT & ACCEPT SACRIFICES
Every CEO of a company will tell you that meaningful success doesn’t come overnight. It will take days, months, & years for small milestones alone. I knew that if I wanted to make my blog become a business, MY BUSINESS, then I’d have to expect & accept the reality of late nights, rejection, hard work for little to zero reward, as well as facing having to say no a lot more than yes.
For 3.5 years, I worked 2 jobs – my 9 to 5 corporate job and then my blog from 6pm until sometimes dawn. I worked weekends, missed out on dinners with friends, rarely went on dates, & found myself feeling more alone than I ever imagined. Of course, I made sure to balance the best I could but in that time & place, I knew my sacrifices then would lead me to where I am now. Today, I look back and appreciate every hour of time I spent dedicating to my full-time career. Sacrifices still have to be made at times, but I now have a sense of seniority to pick and choose what needs my undivided attention.
NETWORK YOUR HEART OUT
For my generation & those following, it’s all about who you know. I learned that playing it safe & being shy wouldn’t get me ANYWHERE if I wanted to make my blog a full-time thing. You get no where standing still. My only option was to step out, show up, & engage in conversation – something I was truly PETRIFIED to do as a seemingly shy human back then.
Today, I’ve become the person who can navigate any room & make a connection. I make sure to attend any kind of event I’m invited to, meet the person who invited me, talk with those also invited, and position myself in a place for opportunities and possibilities. As a result, I’ve been able to land more partnerships and build strong friendships with both brands & bloggers in this space than ever before.
ALWAYS BE REAL
This goes along with the first portion of noting ‘not everything you see on IG is reality’ as well as cuing the effort of ‘putting yourself out there in order to make a connection.’ I’m a terrible, terrible lier & I will never promote anything while pretending things are fantastic when they’re clearly not. In fact, on the days I don’t feel happy, I won’t post on IG. But I’m learning to be more confident in what I share with you guys as my readers, being more vulnerable and more real in real time.
I’ve found my blog to be somewhat of an online diary that’s open to the public (side note: does anyone remember Live Journal!?) but also acting as an open forum for discussion. On the blog posts where I’ve opened up about my personal struggles of heartbreak or sharing what it’s like to live with a condition that could take my life if I’m not careful – those are the ones that allowed me to feel closer to you guys as my readers more than ever before. It felt so good to read messages & comments saying that my blog post helped someone feel less alone & better knowing he/she isn’t the only one facing such a situation. I’ve learned that sharing the real, the ugly, the sad, & the downright shitty moments of life can be equally as rewarding as celebrating the good.
TRUST THE PROCESS
With every year that passes, I’m also faced with the reality that it’s been another 365 days of working towards the feeling of “I’ve made it.” I personally don’t believe that there will ever be such a time where I’ll be able to sit back and watch the success roll in with little involvement – that’s just unacceptable as a self-made entrepreneur to believe. But although I know i’ll always be working hard, there are times when I feel down on myself when I reflect how long it’s been taking me to get to a place that some find in 3 years or less.
Not going to lie, it’s so tough to see someone succeed you in half the amount of time it took yourself to get there. I feel this most when I compare myself to the number of followers, comments, & partnerships someone who’s relatively ‘green’ to this industry. There’s no one in particular that’s triggering my insecurity of worth either. It’s just what happens when you get consumed in that detrimental comparison game social media presents to us.
At the end of the day, I’ve learned to remind myself that my journey, just like my blog, is unlike any one else’s for a reason. The path to success is going to be different than someone else’s because it’s unique to me. Mimicking in this industry won’t enable you to stand out as the individual you are – there’s a reason there’s only ONE of YOU. So I’m learning to trust the process more in times I feel the comparison game riptide trying to pull me out to sea. It’s a work in progress but just like my blog, it will ultimately lead to something life-changing.