How I Gained 27.1K Followers but Lost Myself
How I Gained 27.1K Followers but Lost Myself
BY LOUISA WELLS
It was two years ago in May. Standing in the middle of a bar where the happy hour had somehow morphed into the pre-club vibes of early evening, Moscow mules and gin and tonics were slowly being replaced with "shots all around." In a moment of millennial self-indulgence, or possibly boredom, I took out my phone.
I couldn't see the time. I couldn't see anything except the endless list of notifications telling me that "x_person liked your photo" and "b_girl started following you." Needless to say confusion followed. Searching for answers, I asked aloud to no one in particular, "what the heck is going on?" to which no one responded on account of the music blaring around us.
I checked my email and was surprised to find a note from the Instagram Team letting me know that I was chosen as a suggested user for new users who may like what my profile has to offer. "Over the next few weeks, you will notice an increase in traffic to your page. Be sure to say hello and enjoy!"
I was quickly on my way to 27,000 Instagram followers.
Enjoy? Enjoy. For the next three weeks, I quickly gained over 25,000 followers simply because my profile was being shown to them. Everything I posted was devoured like sweet morsels by my growing number of followers. I became the girl who posted boxes of her Prada (singular) purchase and posted images with no smile because I looked "cooler" somehow. Comments came pouring in.
Whenever my friends introduced me to someone new they'd say "she's Instafamous!" I shrugged and in my best trying-not-to-sound-interested voice, responded with, "it's nothing really."
Oh, but it was. I posted just to get a post up, to feed that satisfaction that came with those heart notifications.
Outside, I looked like the coolest thing to make it from my small town in Illinois, but on the inside, I was broken.
The Moment It All Changed - Sort Of
Fast forward to that July. I joined my first community group at my church, and we were reading Love Idol by Jennifer Dukes Lee. I had just started coming back to church after about four years of turning my back on God. We were sitting there in my friend's cozy apartment and I broke down.
I felt an enormous pressure to keep up appearances -- to keep things going when things just weren't okay. I'm so so thankful for that group of women -- God started to work on my heart, but I had a long way to go.
Things didn't get better at first. In fact, they got worse. The New York Post called in 2016, and I was nervously telling them over the phone about my Instagram consulting business that in actuality (at the time) was limited. The emails came flooding in and I began to consult people. I felt like a fraud. As you know, Instagram is changing, with more users than ever before more of us are "getting lost in the shuffle" amongst the Aimee Songs and Danielle Bernsteins of the world.
It's All Digital
As a result, my likes did not match my follower count. Yes, on the one hand it's frustrating because I see people with the same or less followers and they have 3x the amount of likes. But on the other hand, I know one truth so profound that no amount of change in this one tiny social media platform will break me: My worth is not in Instagram. My worth is in God, my heavenly father -- and that makes all the difference.
I am reminded of Romans 8:16-17: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
He calls me a daughter and more than that an heir—I am royalty because God says I am. I just had to know that for myself.
I am telling everyone this because for too long I was ashamed that I didn't "work hard" like other bloggers or influencers to gain their followings.
I was afraid that people would think I was a fraud and that I'd be "outed." But you know what? That hasn't happened. And you know what else? God knew what I could handle, and He knew what He was doing. I actually knew all along how to help people with their Instagrams -- I'd been helping my friends with their photos and edits for quite some time; it was a matter of scaling that and making it useful for many more people. Since then, I've been helping individuals and brands alike grow their following.
Where To Next?
I am telling you this so that I don't have to hide anymore and in the hopes that someone will read this and not feel the need to "keep up appearances" anymore. I'm still a work in progress and I'm re-reading Love Idol.
If I don't get a post up that day or work on my engagement, is it really that bad? Instagram could be gone tomorrow -- is that really where you want to place your self worth?