Oh social media...the latest form of communication that the world wasn't quite ready for. In a world of Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Facebook, LinkedIn, Weibo, Twitter, and everything in between we have so many new ways to stay connected into the lives of others and in some ways being disconnected to the real life connections we as humans naturally thrive on. As I've been spending much of my blogging time writing answers to various interviews on me to come the question that seems to be common is: "what has social media done for you?" The question should be "what has it not done for you?" because throughout my adult life it has done a lot in ways I never imagined.
Many years ago I used to be known as "I CUT HAIR". I was a hairstylist for 10 years before jumping into the startup tech world. Social media, more importantly Myspace and Yelp were the two channels that really allowed me to build a business in the digital age. The experience of growing a business solely by word of mouth presence in the digital age was one of the reasons that got the attention of my CEO when VSCO was just an idea. I still remember the day that he called me and I took the call in the garage while he described his crazy vision of a company to me. My husband and I also utilized social media to get the word out about our new adventures of Encarnacion Photography when we were just starting it 8 years ago.
Fast forward to now, social media has truly impacted my journey in so many ways. When I decided to embark my fitness journey I decided to post on my personal account ( no longer public so please do not friend request me, because I wont add you. NOTHING PERSONAL). I wanted a way that was low touch and didn't require much effort to document my journey and to share it with some others who might be going through similar struggles. I'm a natural born creative and always have needed to find some form of creative outlet to express myself whether it was artistically or personally. And being someone who dealt with adolescent and adult depression I knew that talking about struggles helps me find clarity. Over the course of a year the #gofitjo hashtag was growing and the interest of my self innovation grew too. The growing engagement of the hashtag on my personal account was reason enough for me to begin @gofitjo.
Now I'm going to keep this rant pretty short and sweet because I'll dive more into it later but social media definitely has its ups and downs, just like anything else in the world. Some days I long for the times when I can just post anything without caring about composition and lighting, but that's just me being a photographer/creative. And that's what Snapchat is for, I guess. Or what about when you're trying to eat, but everyone is trying to take a photo of food, and the meal's gone cold before your first bite? Ahh...the woes of social media and the need to document the life around us. None the less I have a love/hate for the humorous experience that come from social sharing.
The biggest thing that sharing my story on social media has done for me was creating genuine connections with people and experiences that continue to inspire and empower people and myself. Some of my best friends to date are the women I've connected with over social media and have built strong relationships IRL.
What I share is vulnerable and they are just small pieces that make up who I am. I want others to know that they are not alone in feeling the way that they do and if I can be a small sliver of an example of a modern day women figuring her way out through this crazy world today then my intentions and purpose in being a social media presence is doing its job. I want people, especially women to believe that we don't have strive so hard to live up to an untainable standard of life in: fitness, motherhood, career, or just simply being a woman.
I said this on my Instagram the other day:
NO ONE ELSE in this world was born with the same unique characteristics, talents, skills, gifts or perspectives that you have. You are a one time event in the universe, darling, and you are magnificent and incredible!
In the beginning of this year I've had an incredible opportunity to work with a lot of brands. We've collaborating in either sponsored posts or gifting opportunities. Now, let me state that I never had the intention of growing a following for the collaboration opportunities. And the ones that I decide to collaborate with are the hand selected few that I strongly believe align best with my own personal story and message. I'm pretty straight forward to brands when they email me and it's even posted on my contact page.
With most brands I encourage some form of effort that includes my community or following like a giveaway or discount code, if it's something we can agree on. Why? Because there was a time in my life where when my husband and I were starting our business, we couldn't afford to pay rent for a month and were having to decide whether the income we were making that week would go to food on the table for our family of three at the time, or if it was going towards keeping the roof over our heads. We never asked for help from our families and even now I think this is the first time I'm going public with this (sorry hubs). But none the less we figured a way to hustle ourselves out of a hole. I know many people have a hard time affording fitness classes, new workout clothing, and even healthy food. So if there's a way that I can help the small and the few in the opportunities that come my way, then I'll do my best to extend that gratitude and grace. One of those is by hosting a month long giveaway series with my dear friend Mickey. So if you want to make sure to follow along #sweatwithusgiveaway, there's more to come.
The biggest lesson I've learned is that we can't journey through life on our owns. Yes a single warrior can pave the path, but it takes the rest of their tribe to carry the weight and to push on through the challenges. We're all human and we have the power to influence positive change just by talking about our struggles. We have to celebrate what life is all about and that is connection. We can't innovate and change our lives without collaborating with one another in order to make that difference. This is what social media has done for me.