My journey to 4000 Friends!
4 is my lucky number. This week I reached 4000 followers on Instagram. I normally don’t post about reaching milestone numbers of followers, but this is special to me. The 4000 coincides with me being in Los Angeles a year, and I want to celebrate it.
It is a number yes, but behind that number are real people and to me, real friends. When I look through my friends on Instagram I have literally had conversations with about 80% of them. And not just surface conversations, but deep talks about life and our triumphs and struggles. I feel an attachment in different ways to everyone, and I am in awe that I have made real connections with so many people.
Three years ago, I had no social media at all; Not Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. In fact, there was a part of me that didn’t believe in it. Why would I want to put my personal information and photos on the internet for everyone to see? My girlfriends would beg me to sign up for Facebook so that I could see their vacation photos, photos of their children, and their home remodels. It made me tired to even think of signing up. It seemed overwhelming to me to have that much information at my fingertips. I was looking at it as a consumer. But everything changed when I had something to say and I was looking to make friends with like minded people. Then I saw it as a platform to connect and share.
I have written my whole life, and I always thought I would be a writer for my career. Or I guess I wanted to be a writer because I can write all day and I never get tired of it. It is never a chore to me. I feel alive and connected when I write, whether for myself in my journal or on my blog for everyone to read. So, in the midst of my personal crisis in January 2018, I decided that starting a public blog would help me out of my confusion and sadness, because my writing had never let me down. So, it seemed like a good place to start.
I only had 3 rules when I started my blog. The first is that I had to write 1000 words for each post. Second, I had to write every weekend NO MATTER WHAT! Thirdly, once I published a post I couldn’t change it except for spelling errors, no matter how badly it made me cringe when I read it back. Those were my rules, and still are. The content and everything else is open, no rules!
So, how was I going to get people to read my blog? I decided to start an Instagram account so that I could direct people to my website and blog. I didn’t know what to post on Instagram, so I bought a camera, some buddha heads at Goodwill, and went around Portland placing Buddha heads in nature and taking pictures of them. Then I would add text and post theses photos to my Instagram. My first few photos maybe got 3 likes. Slowly but surely though, people started reading my blog. They asked questions about me, they wanted to know more about me. So, eventually I posted a photo of myself, and when I did I received a lot more engagement.
So, I started posting more photos of me, not because I wanted to, but because I wanted people to read my blog and that was a way to engage them. 2 years ago at this time I had 70 followers. But these 70 people are now my dear friends. They have been with me since the very beginning of my journey and we have shared each others lives these past 2 plus years.
In March of 2018, I was bored one weekend so I decided to draw again, after a 15 year absence. I thought it would be fun, and give me something to write about on my blog. I posted a simple pen and ink drawing of a woman. My followers commented and liked it so much, they encouraged me to draw more. I was shocked, as to me it was just fun. So I kept drawing women, and started drawing my followers too and sending them the illustrations of them for free. It was, and is, fun for me. I never expected anyone to pay me to do it.
But that all changed when in 2019 I opened my store. Within 2 days of announcing my store opening someone wanted to buy their illustration. I had to figure out how to accept payments, how to print, how to wrap and mail it. I wasn’t ready for customers. Once I announced the sale, others also asked to buy their illustrations. I was in business.
My writing took a backseat to my art, but I never stopped writing and I have written weekly since the beginning. My writing is and always will be my first love. My favorite thing in the world is when you read my writing and you are touched. Writing is my way of connecting to you. It is my way of telling you that I know you are trying to do the right thing for everyone else every single day, but it is ok to want something just for you too! It isn’t selfish. It is human. And I know you have a gift to share with the world! And if you don’t share, it will be a disservice to you and everyone around you. Share!
Two and a half years later there are more than 4000 people that want to follow my journey. Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if I never started my blog? I wonder where I would be if I was still too scared to speak my truth? I certainly wouldn’t be in Los Angeles right now. I would still be trying to live someone else’s life, and live by someone else’s rules. I would still be in hiding, writing in my journal for no one but me. You wouldn’t know me. And I wouldn’t know you. You would’t be reading this right now, and wouldn’t that be a shame.