I was never the “cool” girl in seventh grade. My closet was Abercrombie instead of Hollister, my makeup skills were nonexistent, I tried having a boyfriend once (but hated it because I felt smothered) and my parents vowed to kick me to the curb if they ever found a MySpace profile under my name. I had this grey jacket with a furry hood I insisted on wearing every day from January to March and my Sony Ericsson flip phone could never rival the hot pink Motorola Razrs of my friends.
Eighth grade wasn’t the best either. To be quite honest, the only thing I remember about it was this dope U.S. history board game I made for a class project toward the end of the semester. I also remember wearing Sperrys, a pink and blue knockoff Ed Hardy shirt and a stack of colorful handmade beaded bracelets with sayings like “ILY<3” and “BFF”, but that’s not really in line with my current style standards so I like to pretend that never happened.
When it was finally time for me to transition to high school, I decided that it was IMPERATIVE to my image that I get a Facebook. All of my friends were joining and getting these things called “likes”. I wanted “likes” too! My parents, tired of my teen angst and incessant begging, finally agreed to give me a chance on social media... if I made a PowerPoint presentation detailing the pros, cons and dangers of Facebook.
I knocked it out of the ballpark and one week later, I had a profile.
Before I knew it was happening, I became hooked on the world of social media. I was tweeting and gramming and snapping and creating a little place in the online community that was entirely mine, never imagining it would be a fruitful attempt at personal branding.
My selfies and photos with friends brought in a ton of followers after freshman year of college, but I soon turned my Instagram focus to actual lifestyle pictures that my followers could go back and reference if needed. I was sharing outfits, restaurant and sight seeing recommendations and encouragement. I finally started MissMadds.com as a style and self-growth blog and the rest is history.
Not everyone finds social media success endearing and, if I had to guess, a few of you reading this probably think I’m some kind of narcissistic betch.
How could I possibly be so self-centered and spend so much time on my online profiles? Isn’t it exhausting trying to make everything so perfect? Don’t I have friends??
I’ve gotten superlatives from my sorority like “most likely to double post on Instagram” and “most addicted to social media” as if those were negative things. I’ve had people make fun of Instagrammers and influencers to my face. My ex used to use air quotes every time he would call me a “blogger” and I feel like I spend a substantial amount of time each week explaining to people what it takes to run a website and syndicate content across social media.
But luckily, none of the negativity stopped me from doing what I love.
All of the likes, the comments, the clicks, the posts and the engagement in online communities has ultimately led me to exactly where I need to be -- working part-time as a social media coordinator for one of the most badass up-and-coming companies out there.
So, long story short, don’t let anyone get in the way of doing what makes you happy. Don’t let anyone tell you that your passions or your hobbies are silly. Don’t take shit from people about things they don’t understand. And MOST importantly, don’t let anyone ever dissuade you from following your heart.
Everyone told me that I shouldn’t pursue journalism. Everyone questioned me when I was trying to balance school with an internship, my photography business and a newborn blog. My mom has told me multiple times to back off on how much I was taking on, but I never really liked to listen to her anyways (right, mom?)
For four years I have been stressed but fulfilled, always wondering if what I was working on would pay off and, spoiler alert, it has.
I’m not here to tell you that working hard automatically guarantees you a great job with a dream company right out of college because that’s not always the case. Sometimes bad things happen and life falls apart. Sometimes you have to re-evaluate and go with “good enough” until its your time to shine.
Despite all of this uncertainty that comes with life, all you can do is blindly follow your passions and see where they take you... because every once in a while, something fabulous happens. And only when you look back at everything that’s shaped your path do you realize that life has fallen into place.
My life fell into place through the means of photos, tweets and written content. Maybe your life will fall into place through medicine, or technology or complex thermodynamics problems I would never in a million years never be able to solve. Who knows? Just make sure that along the way you listen to your heart... not the voices of those trying to tear you down.
What someone may deem your obsession could actually be your calling.
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