Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Work it Wednesday: A well curated life?

Curate: Select, organize, and present (online content, merchandise, information, etc.)

 In the photography world there is much talk swirling around about how you "Curate" your brand.. It's often talked about in the realm of an Instagram feed (define your look, style, vibe). I am not a  marketing expert but I do understand you want to represent your style well, have a cohesive look and draw in your ideal following. I see the need and the good in this.

However, I think there is a part of this well curated feed that begins to influence a mindset of a well curated life. I think we've begun to see that as a "flawless presentation" and I am not sure that is a good thing.

We live in a world of encouraged art, Etsy accounts everywhere, entrepreneurs/start ups, Facebook pages for those becoming famous and a world of Instagram relationships through following. There are endless amounts of "The 10 steps to marketing yourself", "The top ways to get discovered" and talks of becoming "Insta-famous". We all have a platform (or many). I don't know if you fall into this trap but the comparison game is real and we often don't even see it. We become so influenced by what others are doing that we can lose sight of what is real, our own style, what we like and even who we are.

I think even businesses have to evaluate this process to represent something that is genuine, authentic and sustainable. But, I am not a pro business owner/marketing specialist and to each there own.. However, I think the challenge is when the marketing wisdom of our culture bleeds from business to our personal life. And while I am not an expert on that either, I have my own thoughts..

So how do we pay attention, reflect authenticity, connect deeply and remain content within all the subtle and not so subtle expectations of a well curated feed and life?

  1. To Curate or not? Maybe we have to ask ourselves if presenting only the best is what we desire? If I am having a super fun evening enjoying a new restaurant with a friend and want to share that with the world but the lighting sucks and my photo isn't awesome, can I still post it? YES. Will I get as many likes as if it we're a flawless photo? NO. Many people will scroll right past it. But for me, that is ok. I enjoy presenting things well to tell a story but think the way I curate should reflect authenticity, not perfection.
  2. Define your values. What matters most to you in regards to your representation in the social media world? Is it posts that generate the most likes/excitement? Is it a real representation of you/your life? Is it a depth of interaction or a widespread following? Is it offering the world what you like or representing what the world likes? Once we define this we have a foundation for how we interact in the virtual world. We know what matters to us and can offer that knowing our why.
  3. Remember your why is not their why. What matters to someone else might not be what matters to me. Therefore the choices I make and the responses I get will be different. Remember your why when you get different results. 
  4. What is your life about? So much of what we know of a person is what we know through Instagram. Our culture has shifted from calling each other to check in, to checking out someone's Instagram feed to see how they're doing. I think we could step up our real connection in that area but that is a whole other blog post. If that reality means that my feed is a representation of me, I want it to reflect a real side... mundane moments, a messy dinner table with delicious food and good company, things I am excited about and challenging parts of life too. 
  5. Disconnect. Sometimes we don't even realize how over-saturated we are in our virtual worlds. I am guilty and thoughts creep in. I might miss someone's major life update. I might miss a cool giveaway. I might be out of the loop. I might miss out on connection. However, I don't want to look back on this season of life and realize I had shallow investments with the people I love, that I ignored important areas in my life to scroll, that I misplaced my worth and that I let everyone else define what I like. Create a healthy disconnect. Unplug for a day a week, don't take your phone to bed, call that friend your curious about, go outside! 
  6. The world needs more real. People long for authenticity - for someone to say, "Me too, I feel you." We want to know were not alone. We want to know someone else struggles with the things we do. We want to know we're not the only ones who don't have it all together. When we present only the best, we mislead. You may sit somewhere else with this but I feel strongly that people need to know we're human and with most of our connections happening digitally, that element can get lost. 
  7. Share the depth of who you are in real life. I love authenticity on Instagram but social media isn't a safe/healthy place for every area of our life. We need real connection to navigate the messy, broken, hard parts of life. And people need to experience that side of us. Please don't trade a close person relating and offering encouragement for 1,000 comments from people saying, "Oh my gosh me too thank you for sharing this." The word needs both but we must have deep, intimate connection where we are truly known and know someone in return.
My husband and I we're talking last night about how cultural things like social media have such destroying power because in themselves they are not bad. Connecting with people virtually can be awesome. Enjoying beautiful feeds is fun. BUT when little by little were less present, less honest with those in our life, less free, less content with who we are/how we look and have less margin; we're paying a high price.

Where ever you land on how you represent yourself in the virtual world is totally your choice, but...

It is my hope we choose NOT to live a flawlessly curated life. 

But rather a genuinely experienced and shared life. Let your life be one that is known deeply, loved deeply, experiences depths of real/good/hard and shares genuinely along the way. The worlds needs the real you. And you need (and deserve) the real you to be experienced.

To go with a less flawless and more real curate of photos, here are some mediocre ones that represent great parts of my week..
Pumpkin cookies & my favorite pumpkin beer

Great friends with whom we get to share real life with

WINTER CHEER from Stumptown is back (I let myself selfie with it cause it is that happy!) featuring the pallet we picked up to make a table out of but haven't taken out of the car yet..

A meal that was thrown together but felt all Fall-y and delicious (including apple juice)

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