In today’s culture when you have over a thousand followers as a teenager especially, it is something worth celebrating. It enters your head and I swear, it feels like the whole world knows you and you are finally achieving something. When I had very close to 2000 followers on my previous Instagram account named – “multiple_shades_of_me,” it was quite an experience. The normal things that you would expect happened to me, I burned my data faster, I was obsessed with my phone, I checked it every second especially after posting a picture, I got weird messages from people saying they were inspired by me and compliments from many people I knew, saying that they were proud of me but I felt stuck. Judging from that account, you would think that I was really achieving something. Hmm (in a sarcastic tone).
I somehow felt that I had created attention for this person, personality and way of writing and I had to be consistent with it or else... and I was so afraid of losing it. I was more concerned of what people thought about me than what I actually thought about myself. Although the account was “about me” I was distracted from myself. On several occasions before I finally summoned the bravery to delete the account, I would temporarily take it down and go on social media “exile or vacation” for months. I can’t remember the date exactly that I deleted the account but I had gone online with the hope of taking it down again temporarily out of dissatisfaction. I was in my head that day and I realized that my definition of growth was by an increasing number of strangers that surrounded a username. When I closed my eyes and deleted the account, to be honest, regret kicked in immediately.
For months I stayed off all forms of social media to mourn this “loss.” Of course I thought of how people might mock and question me. Before creating another account, I thought thoroughly about the areas of my life that I wanted to see and experience growth, and I stuck it to my head. It was a new kind of freedom and an inspiration to stand up every day and take one step or two physically in achieving my long term goals and growing in real life unlike sitting down with my phone and waiting for the number of likes on my pictures or followers to go up. I transformed especially in my writings beyond imagination. I had more time to think and act on things that made me better. I discovered a new form of writing; a new way of being myself. I have never been more satisfied with being “normal.”
If you have great amount of followers, good for you, I did not say delete it. My suggestion is that you don’t forget to grow outside that phone. Take a step each day to achieving your dreams, don’t build castles in the air thinking that a number of strangers and time plus data wastage are the foundation.
ERIC BUTTERWORTH – Don’t go through life, grow through life.
Awarded as one of Nigeria Writer's Awards top 100 influential Nigerian Writers under the age of 40
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