Over this past year, I’ve grown Urban Meets Erban into something that I’m truly proud of. The platforms I use to promote UME have taken me down paths I’ve never dared to dream and have changed me into a stronger and happier person. My low self-esteem, chip on my shoulder, insecurities, and fake happy-go-lucky attitude were weighing heavily and causing me anxiety. I lost myself in my late 20’s and didn’t know where I was heading. I was sensitive, often dramatic, and doing things for all the wrong reasons.
Fast forward a year, insert the often occasional low day, I’m stronger, happier, and surrounded by things and people that only bring positive energy into my life. Zero room for bullshit in my life. And so when those dark moments come, and they do, I’m better equipped to handle them. No more Alice in Wonderland chasing the rabbit down the dark rabbit hole. I think before I jump into a pool of unnecessary thoughts and avoid self-loathing as much as I can.
So, how can taking on a challenge such as a blog change you? Can it change you? For me, personally, it challenged my mental strength, built my self-esteem, and taught me a thing or two about social media. Rather than going off on long winded tangents, I’m going to break down how I grew my mental strength, my self-love discovery, and what I’ve learned over this past year.
Those who mind don’t matter, and those that matter don’t mind. End of story. This one was tough for me when I first shared I would be starting a blog. Was everyone receptive? Not a chance. Are people, friends, and family still uncertain or even dismissive when it comes to my blog? Maybe. But what I’ve come to learn is that before I can consider seeking any truths or takeaways from commentary regarding the blog or my life, I need to be sure of myself, first and foremost. I remember causing myself unnecessary stress and worrying about what others think far too often. I would throw myself into a whirlwind of emotions over something I simply couldn’t control. And for what? But what I realized in the first couple months of the blog was that I couldn’t handle the backlash, the stresses, and that I wasn’t coping with situations the best I could. My journey to finding balance and confidence would not be genuine if I didn’t have a solid foundation. So, setting aside my ego and preconceived notions, I sought guidance from someone that could help me build a more positive and healthy life (I needed a reboot). I had to learn take a step back, re-evaluate who I surround myself with, forgive my past, and begin to work on my self-esteem all over again. I began to focus on what makes me happy and brings me joy, set goals, remember why I started writing, and surrounded myself with like-minded people. I finally had developed an ability to let things go, assess situations before they spiraled out of control, and found myself in a place where I wouldn’t allow things to get to me as easily. My mental toughness is something I work on daily, and I’m in a far healthier place than I was a year ago. One in which my question is no longer “why me”, but rather “try me”.
From a young age, each one of us has been bullied or experienced bullying in some way. We’ve collected scars, bruised egos, and have been taught lessons that have made us stronger. Without those experiences, we wouldn’t come to appreciate the moment when we finally learn to love ourselves as we are. Without knowing the struggles, the pain, the discomfort surrounding insecurities about our own bodies, we wouldn’t know what not to do or how not to feel. As we grow, as our bodies change, we have to learn to appreciate our bodies through all of its stages. Be thankful for work it allows us to put it through, the results it gives us, and the beauty it creates. Because while we may want what someone else has, there are a dozen people that want what you have yet to appreciate about ourselves. I would always look at images on social media and instantly breakdown every inch of my body and what I dislike about it. Even at my fittest stages, I was unhappy. But why? I quickly realized that I was comparing myself to the someone’s best of 1,246 photos, good lighting, and possibly even editing. Sure, if I took a photo at just the right angle first thing in the morning, I’m sure I’d feel far better about myself than after McDonald’s on a Saturday night. But still, I should be able to love my body at every stage. This past year it just hit me, and it came when a friend was less than pleased after I made a comment about how much I hate my legs. I noted that they were too big and a handful of other negative things. She quickly reminded me that we are all built different, we are muscle dominant in different places, and that comments like that are what instill an unhealthy perception of one’s self. In that moment, I felt stupid. She was right. If I work out, hard, set goals, and focus on exercises to achieve these said goals, how could I possible still dislike my own body? At that moment, I made the decision to stop trying to achieve the unrealistic photo shopped image in my head and finally love the body I was blessed with. And slowly, after each day and gym session, I was building a confidence that in turn built a more positive perception of my body. I didn’t lose weight, I didn’t make any drastic changes, I just chose to start loving myself.
Words from Le Boyfriend: "How we perceive things is almost as important as how things are. However there is one important distinction, we can control and train our perception of things. And in turn, how we perceive situations, our bodies, unfortunate events, etc. can then have a drastic impact on our behavior. How you perceive the world influences your attitude, which in turn effects what you attract. If you perceive a world of abundance, your actions and attitude attract abundance. Conversely, if you perceive your life as lacking what you need, you worry more about conserving what you have rather than attaining those things you want and need."
The biggest thing to remember about social media is that it’s a platform for someone to share their carefully curated life. It is often a false-reality that causes serious fomo or jealousy. What you have to keep in mind is that a lot of accounts are about building a brand, a business, and there is a lot of work that goes into the life one lives - and in reality it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. And more often than not, I hear people judging how one grows rather than taking away business tips on how to excel their brand, their products, etc. Rather than worrying about what others are doing, why a brand has chosen to work with them and not you, why they travel so much, how they are the way they are, it’s important to stay in our own lane and focus your energy on yourself. Don't compare yourself to others, but to your yesterdays self. I’ve come to learn quite a few things about social media and pushing your brand, so rather than writing a novel about it, I’m going to break it down into some things I find important and that should be kept in mind:
Don’t copy: whether it’s how you edit your photos, curate your feed, or how you choose to portray yourself. Don’t fall into doing what everyone else is doing, set yourself apart.
Be authentic: remain true to yourself, post only what you believe in, know when to politely say no, and only represent brands or products you believe in. Remember to build trust among your followers and see the bigger picture.
Likes + comments: be present for the first 20-30 minutes when you post. Engage with your audience and respond to any questions or comments. If you find yourself refreshing your picture multiple times a day after that to see how many likes you receive…get a hobby!
Follow for follow: pick who you want to see in your feed, not who you think you have to see. I don’t believe in following others because it will help my growth or how it appears socially. When you spend that time scrolling through your IG, make sure its content that brings something positive into your life.
Posts: don’t post for the sake of posting, post with the intent to teach or uplift, and if you question posting something be sure to ask yourself; is it hurting anyone, is it in line with my brand, and will I regret it years from now.
Haters: we all have them and it’s how we choose to let it affect us. Remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion but not your time. Don’t engage, period.
Circle: surround yourself with a group of like-minded influencers/bloggers that uplift and push you. It’s key to have people in the industry that understand what it can be like on those difficult days, to bounce ideas off of, and to be a support system when you need it.
Growth: please don’t buy your followers or likes, hustle instead. I love the idea behind Fohr to keep things honest. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, do your research. Be the person that puts in the work, search hashtags and like photos and appeal to you, turn on notifications, engage, find accounts to follow that make you smile, and watch relationships grow as they introduce you to their circles. Remember: you can't expect the support of others to come in if you don't care to take the time to do the same.
Time: you won’t have the perfect feed, things will constantly change and evolve, just be patient and grow with your brand.
Be you, confidently: remember why you started in the first place. Don’t let IG consume your life, don’t waste hours worrying, and don’t let other’s sway the direction in which you run. Stay the course, find joy in the journey, and be true to yourself - always.
One year, 218 pictures, and a handful of posts later, UME has developed into something unimaginable. I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store! The one thing I do know though, for certain, is that I will remain authentic and will only stop when this no longer is a creative outlet or enjoyable! I hope you enjoy following along in my journey to self-confidence and balance.
Be you, confidently.