Last year, I was made a "suggested user" on Instagram. I had been carefully curating a beautiful portfolio of my watercolor work for months, so this was an extremely validating honor.
My sister-in-law Margaret from The Plant Philosophy had already been featured on Instagram for her amazing work helping people transition to veganism and feel good about their bodies and dietary choices. Not to mention, she has cute cats. (That'll do it, right?) I knew from her experience that I would probably gain a crazy audience within a matter of days.
And that's exactly what happened. Within 4 days, my Instagram audience grew from less than 1,000 to over 75K! I was thrilled. My hard work felt like it was paying off.
But now, everybody was watching.
Sure, I get that "everybody" is not 75K. And I get that of those 75K, probably half were spammers or teenagers that would never buy what I was selling. But everybody was watching.
"Everybody" might be something different to you. It isn't so much about the numbers as it is about the pressure to perform. When you reach that tipping point, it feels like everybody is watching.
Back then, I was strongly focused on my work as a watercolor artist. I love painting and I love sharing it with others. The artist community on Instagram is alive and strong. But after months of all watercolor all the time, my interest fizzled. A lot. And one day I just felt done.
I decided to reinvent myself, a feat I'd encountered before as a serial creative. I went through all the ups and downs of realizing you've gone down the wrong path. Denial. Guilt, so much guilt. Depression (get out of yours). Reflection. And finally... Acceptance. Hope. Clarity.
Whether you've got a lot of people or only a few watching you (they're important too!), use these tips to guide you through your transition into a new and better you:
> BE CLEAR ON WHY YOU WANT CHANGE
When you show that you know what you're doing and why you're doing it, no one can doubt you. Nay-sayers won't matter because you know exactly WHY you need to change and what that will mean for both you and your audience. You are allowed to change. Show your passion for your new venture and your followers will feel it too. Will you lose some people along the way? Yes. Will you gain new ones? Yes.
> PUSH THROUGH SELF-DOUBT
Don't get stuck here. This is the biggest downward spiral you can go on. Give yourself permission to doubt your new and improved self quietly, then move on. Understand that everyone is afraid. Reinvention is exciting and fresh - give yourself the gift of being excited!
> ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR PEOPLE
When everybody is watching, it only feels fair that you acknowledge them. Having followers is a privilege not to take lightly. You can change without abandoning them. If they are only following you because of your tips on hand lettering (for example) and you aren't doing that anymore, they might leave. But maybe they'll stay if you give them a reason or if they can experience your journey right along with you. People will surprise you when you delight them. You don't have to scream from the rooftops, I'M DIFFERENT NOW!, but make sure to still love and nurture your peeps. They deserve it and they might just stick around if you do.
> BE SERIOUS
Chances are you want people to take you seriously as you reinvent yourself. Even if you've changed your mind a million times, you want people to see you don't see your life as a joke. You are a serious person with real goals that are important and worthy of being explored. Don't half-ass it. Learn from your mistakes.
> BELIEVE YOU HAVE CHANGED
No one else will believe you have changed if you still aren't there yet. No one will believe the real you if you aren't projecting it yet. These things take time and I encourage you to take all the time you need. One person may need a week while another needs a year. Different journeys for different people. But believe that you are changing and believe in your transition. Agree to treat yourself like what you want to be. Want to be a writer? Wear that badge loud and proud. Selling ecourses now? Don't stop, get it get it. Believe in who you are and the rest will fall into place.