Wannabe on the Trail: Influencing

I’ve been thinking a lot lately— inspired by a documentary.

Imagine that.

Anyways, I watched Fake Famous. It’s an interesting look at how we view influencing and a social experiment into how to become a mega influencer.

Me, trying to be “on brand”

I related the most with Chris but I don’t think I deserve to be famous in the same way he does. However, I do admire his principles about going with the 100 real followers over the thousands of bots. I also agree with not changing myself drastically in order to get famous either.

I have no inclination to be a mega influencer, yeah, the perks are kind of cool. But I don’t really want to do merch advertising for other people or paid partnerships. Collaborations with other posters in my niche would be cool. I’m happy with people buying my designs, photos, and the ad revenue. Maybe write some books.

I don’t plan on getting rich off any of it or being “famous” like most influencers.  All I want is a little extra money to fund a college/trade school fund for my kid (maybe kiddos), fund a hiking/rafting trip each year, and the rest into savings.

This little guy!

Lofty goals I know—right now, I’m just starting out in the grand scheme of things and the possibilities are endless.

However, as I watched I realized at all the wasted time I could have been building this blog or my Instagram. I’m late to social media bubble. It honestly doesn’t appeal to me in the way it does most people. Partly because I have luddite tendencies but also, I thought I was boring. I also didn’t think I was pretty enough to cash in on the selfies either. Plus, with the dopamine chasing from ADHD if I didn’t have Facebook, Instagram, or now TikTok actually open I sometimes forget they exist—which was great in college.

But mainly, I’m boring.

I liked to read (still do). Canoe or kayak. Hike. Ride horses. Take photos—basically some of the stuff I still do now but at the time I didn’t realize I could brand any of that, because, to reiterate, I thought I was boring.

Now, that I’ve been messing around trying to find my niche with this wannabe blog I realize had I started back in early days with Instagram I could have cultivated a bookstagram theme and reviewed books on YouTube. Because I am a huge bookworm—although I prefer Ink Drinker, and daydreamed about reviewing and reading books all day.

Books!

I could have gotten into cosplay—it would have been mainly Lord of the Rings, but it would have been cool.

I could have become a “horse girl” on there.

Really pushed out canoe and kayak content—photos, videos, and articles on how to handle the gear… (stares at day job media webpage…never mind).

Had I settled into the seasonal park ranger life a little more I could have been a lifestyle guru fulfilling Chris Farley’s inspirational “living in a van down by a river!”

Some saw this as bad thing…others wanted to live the dream

Okay, maybe I wasn’t as boring as I thought I was.

I was not feeling bored.

Had I built on any of my interests or hobbies I might have cultivated a larger following and had a totally different brand.

 I could have done a lot of cool stuff, but would I have wound up where I am?

Great job, sharing happiness (and a little grumpiness) with the love of my life, the best little man ever, and the cute dogs. The grumpy cat is starting to like me which is nice. Or would I have fame, fortune, and a branding deal? Would I be happier?

Nah, I’m happy were I’m at and who I’m with, plus who I am as a person, but it would be kind of cool to be a micro-influencer. I still don’t plan on chasing the fame. I’ll continue to plod along with my rambles, thoughts, and cute photos. Maybe I’ll turn into a “mommy blogger” for ADHD wannabes that think they lack the mom gene sometimes but try their darndest to make their kiddos happy—maybe by taking a hike.  

Or playing in the leaves!

Keep wandering,

BJ

Return to Girl, Take a Hike

I really want to go hike on a beach somewhere. It’s been an insane week already. It’s also starting to get cold. I don’t like it. Well, I do but it’s a weird toxic love hate relationship with cold weather. The snow makes it so pretty. Luckily, we only had a little light dusting of snow that didn’t stick but it’s coming.

Took this last year– see I do get out in the cold weather!

And because I have a tendency to binge watch YouTube and hide under a blanket this time of year, I fall into my other weird toxic love hate relationship: Anti-MLM videos and in particular Rachel Hollis videos. Or I watch music videos, lately Bo Burnham Inside has been a major focus. All Eyes On Me is hauntingly beautiful.

I love that people are deconstructing these groups and people but at the same time they are giving them attention… it’s cyclic folks. Yet here I am ranting about Rachel Hollis, so I love and hate myself for the same reasons…

But this time as I was listening to Not The Good Girl’s take on Hollis. Not The Good Girl does an awesome job breaking this all down in a documentary style format.

There was two things Hollis said really stuck me:

“We all have the same 24 hours.”

And…

 “Sometimes it’s okay if the only thing you did today was breathe,” and Hollis’s ensuing rant video about the Pinterest quote and people not ‘hustling.’

In some ways, yes, she’s right about how we all have the same amount of time and we should hustle to make our goals.

However, I sure as hell don’t have the same quality of 24 hours as Hollis. I don’t have a nanny and maid to assist with my child or housework or a husband (now ex) that could offset what my business costs would be. A ‘team’ to pass the blam…eh assist when something goes wrong or to help put on any speaking engagement.  

I’m my own editor, maid, nanny, content creator, graphic designer, cook, bottlewasher, and this list is getting ridiculously long—if I make a mistake, I own it because I’m literally the only one on my ‘team.’ Do I get everything I want to do done? No, because I like sleep and now that I’m not suffering from insomnia as much, I can actually enjoy it and wake up refreshed at 6 am…

It’s really easy to say we all have the same amount of time when you have a safety net. Now, in fairness she didn’t have that all her life—but once she started the self-help guru stuff (and really pushed this messaging) she did. And it’s a bit of a problem that she doesn’t acknowledge that aspect. I mentioned on a previous post about this that she did hustle, she did accomplish a lot, but this type of glamorizing comes off as a bit of a red flag for me. When you make it seem like it was simply your hustle that elevated you but don’t acknowledge that you have someone in your life that added in making those connections and provided a safety net (even if he was a huge walking red flag) it’s a bit disingenuous.

Which opens us up to a lovely discussion about curated authenticity and its relationship to toxic positivity.

Hollis made waves when she posted about her stretch marks which in some ways was groundbreaking but honestly, she’s attractive, had a decent following, and simply capitalized on that. Hollis curated a form of voluble authenticity that highlighted her “flaws” that she totally demolished with her “What is it about me that made you think I want to be relatable?”  

I post curated photos to an extent but I don’t highlight my flaws in a funny quirky way– I just don’t post or if I do it’s not a glam shot of me being funny and quirky in a misadventure. I also don’t wax poetic about my overcoming anything. I usually talk about how I wannabe doing something but get sucked into why I didn’t or a rant about something/someone. *scrolls back up post, cringe.*

I also don’t put my family in the center of the blog. I did add in about hiking with Hunter but that’s more because I just can’t leave him at home for a weekend hike… plus he’s adorable. But I don’t claim to be a marriage help guru or post how wonderful we all are. I’d rather have what I have now with my husband—he supports me in what I do (and vice versa) but we work on a budget and we compromise what we do and how to fund that endeavor. He also doesn’t have the same priorities as me, he would rather spend the weekend gaming on his PlayStation while I would rather hike or read a book. We compromise. Some weekends we stay in, some we go hiking. It works for us. He doesn’t make snide comments or inspire me to make passive aggressive jewelry once I have a successful moment. Or totally pigeonhole maid services into the most demeaning part of cleaning your house. If I had a maid—I’d pay her, make her cookies, and hype her up to my friends to support her small business.

Just a little cutie in a hiking carrier!

Now—I used to be the self-described queen of hustle mainly because my ADHD wouldn’t let me sit still long enough. Before I had Hunter, I worked my forty-hour week, volunteered twelve hour shifts on my local ambulance two-three nights a week, taught CPR/First Aid classes at least once a month if not more, pursued grad, professional, and continuing education classes for education now history, work, and EMS, and for a while waited tables. *

The extra money was great, but I didn’t need it (although, it did pad my emergency account). I did it because I wanted the dopamine hit and I like giving back to my community.  I could have taken a lot of that “hustle” and worked on this blog but at the time the dopamine wasn’t there for this—it’s back and I don’t know for how long… *crazy ADHD inspired moments*

Which is probably why I’ll never go very far with my “brand” because if the dopamine isn’t there or I put it on a shelf in the basement (or even in the middle of the living room) I will forget about it for a while. Instagram is the only thing I seem to do regularly and even that I skip a few weeks depending on what’s going on in my life. (I’m on a Bo Burnham kick… don’t judge).

Some would argue that I wasn’t hustling for ‘myself’ since I wasn’t doing a home business. But yeah—that was all for me to keep boredom away.

Now, I have a toddler to keep the boredom at bay. Plus, everyone is retiring at my day job, so I have a slew of collateral duties to tire out my brain. History grad classes that require lots of reading which I can hyper focus on since it’s a topic I like. On top of that, my sleep apnea machine is helping with the insomnia—I sleep which is weird and awesome.

I’m also learning how nice it is to have free time– after talking with some doctors after having Hunter we discovered I have ADHD. I received some strategies to help with (healthy) coping and now I don’t feel a driving need to constantly be doing something. Although, the song is about the Internet, Bo Burnham’s “little bit of everything all of the time,” could have been my theme song for a long time.

The added benefit it is now I can take a little time to write about this and that in the evenings while relaxing on the couch. I don’t write every day—but since it’s National Novel Writing Month (#nanowrimo) I’m trying to hit that 50,000-word count.  The other thing is I’m trying to incorporate my wannabe plans into my writing. In fact, I’m going to do some day hikes (maybe an overnight) on the Ozark Trail this November. So, I really am going to take a hike! But a lot of days I read—just to make me happy.

There are also days where all I do is breathe…well in my case sleep/nap/zone out.

Now, the “breathe” rant happened before a lot of this but I caught it back when it was first made and it royally ticked me off. Someone shared it in a depression related group on Facebook. The group was small and we didn’t go jump on her post or page. We just commented on how she missed the point.

Because the original pin poster was talking about dealing with depression. If you’ve never dealt with depression, it’s easy to think—oh just get out of bed and go for a hike! You’re the only one in charge of making yourself happy!

I dislike that mentally. I know they are trying to be helpful and inspiring, but it doesn’t actually help. If anything, once the person tries that and fails it could send them deeper into the pit. In a lot of cases a person’s brain is literally not performing or producing the chemicals to “make” you happy. Or your hormones are totally off the flipping wall and you go from laughing to crying in less than 30 seconds. However, in mild cases of depression going out for a walk might help—it does for me about 90% of the time. The other 10%? I hung on by my mental nails to make it through the day. Once I was home I would shut down.

There’s no hustling yourself out of depression.

There is just a wide empty maw of failure. And because we don’t like to think about mental illnesses as any other type of medical malady, we are ashamed by it. We don’t reach out for help like we should.

I did—it helps. Not everyone that goes to a doctor winds up on meds, sometimes you just need to talk it all out and get therapy. Sometimes because your hormones are so out of whack due to just having a baby you do need to go on a mild anti-depressant but if you stay in communication with your doctor, you’re not on it long. Just long enough to help the hormones level off.

And in all those struggles weather your getting help or not—you accomplished one thing by just breathing. And that’s okay.

But Hollis didn’t see the pin in that context or if she did, she was self-absorbed on her brand that it didn’t matter.

She regulated it to just being “lazy” and not hustling or being positive to get what you want. That’s toxic. This push that if you hustle and appear to be happy about it you will get success is just gross to me. But it is a powerful message and people lap it up…sometimes to their own detriment.

This “breathe” rant was when I kind of realized Hollis was all hype and branding. So, when she had her epic TikTok rant I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t surprised that she wanted to be privileged or unrelatable. I was surprised by how long it took her to backtrack though. She almost waited a week to respond to the havoc created by her own words.

The apology has been scrutinized in fact a writer, Shannon Ashley, at Medium provided a great commentary on Rachel Hollis. I used her article to get the block quotes.  

When Hollis issued an apology—it really was a non-apology. She twisted it back to make it seem like she was the victim. The sad part was had she left it with the first two images it would have been a better apology, not great or really authentic but authentic to her and solely with herself to blame.

“Someday I’ll learn.

Not yet apparently– but someday I’ll learn.

Someday I’ll learn that my intent and my impact can be wildly different things.

I made a post last week that was upsetting to people and even though that was never my intent, I own that it was and I apologize.”

[Should have stopped there! But she didn’t do that—she had to add to it and then spin it as her ‘team’ that ignored or hide comments… however, this to me was the most problematic part of the whole thing]

 “Was my post upsetting because I said I have someone who cleans my house twice a week?”

[This is a dog whistle. This is look at how all these people are focusing on me hiring a maid and making that the issue—when it wasn’t.

The issue was how Hollis prefaced the maid as the ‘person who cleans her toilets’ and made it seem like that job was so far beneath her. A lot of people hire maid and cleaning services nobody begrudges people that and it’s a viable small business option for a lot of women who are traditionally homemakers that now have free time for whatever reason. I thought about doing it for a while, but I got a permanent job that I like.

The rest of the image statement apology is equally flippant and shifts the blame from her to her team…again—she’s really good at pushing any criticism of any kind off on her team.]

“I’ve talked a lot about this over the years;

I have a nanny, I have someone who helps with cleaning, I have a team at work who helps to build this business and I think it’s CRUCIAL that I keep talking about it. I could very easily pretend that I don’t have any assistance.

I’m sure it would make my brand more likable and certainly more relatable if I act like I achieve all of these things through hard work and organization, but that’s bullshit. You don’t have to have a clean house or help with your kids or a business with 25 employees — but if you see those things in my life and wonder how they got there, I want you to know it’s a group effort.

A whole village in fact.”

[Hollis kind of does diminish how much they do help her and allow for her to achieve her goals]

“Was my post upsetting because I mentioned some of my favorite women in history?

This one is even harder for me because, those women are the most badass I could think of. Someone on my team said, “I think people believe you’re comparing yourself to them.” Comparing myself to the first woman to win a Nobel Prize? The first — and only — female monarch in the history of China?? To the most inspiring woman in America who freed herself and then risked her life — repeatedly — to lead others out of slavery? There is NO comparison.”

[Holy Batman! That has “that’s not what I said but totally what I meant” vibes. It was a comparison—when you state you are ‘unrelatable’ and then tag a bunch of women in the post that are historically relevant without providing context that you are “inspired by their qualities” you are implying that you are comparable and relatable to them. Therefore, making them unrelatable to the people you’re trying to gaslight with this apology.]

“To believe that because I mentioned them, I am comparing myself to them is ludicrous. Do I aspire to be as brave? As fierce? To live life on my own terms and — hopefully — inspire other women to do the same? Hell yes! But I cannot now, or ever, compare myself to them and I don’t want to. I don’t want to try and be the next fill-in-the-blank, I’d like to try and be the first me.

That was where things started, but, because I still haven’t learned, I didn’t respond to these things on Friday when I heard that people were upset. I listened to my team instead of my gut.”

[*eyeroll* Hollis used the same type of scapegoating when she was caught plagiarizing. Do it once and yeah, it might have been a team error but when it keeps happening and you keep passing it off as your ‘team misguided you’ it’s just your fault.]

“What you find on my social media feed, is me. For better or worse, it’s all me. And because it’s me, what you’re seeing is sometimes great and sometimes the fumbling’s of being human.

Because it’s me and not a perfectly polished statement written by a publicist, I’m going to get it wrong. But I’d rather get it wrong, and learn from it (painfully and publicly) then not show up at all.”

[Which is it? You or your team? Because you keep saying it’s you but then you turn around and blame the really sketchy stuff (plagiarizing, hiding POC comments, etc.) on your team.]

“I’m so disappointed in myself that I let y’all down. I’m so angry that I still haven’t learned this lesson. I’m going to get it at some point and unfortunately, you have a front row seat for how many times I’m going to make shitty mistakes along the way.”

[You’re right you haven’t learned any lessons and you keep making the same mistakes. You pass the blame onto your team and since it saved you the last few times, you’ll keep kicking that horse.]

It’s easy to harp on this stuff and when it’s 18 degrees I get sucked into the videos and drama of it…mainly because Wade doesn’t like it when I watch documentaries. So, I put my AirPods in and binge watch YouTube videos snuggled under a blanket. Soon the dopamine will dry up and I’ll tackle the books on my TBR pile. Maybe take a snow hike…but I doubt it…

I’m a wimp.

I probably will because how else will I get cute duck and geese shots.

Keep wandering,

BJ

*Fun fact: waiting tables isn’t easy, it is a lot of physical labor, smiling, and remembering orders. However, I found it relaxing and during the long shutdown because I was going stir crazy, something to do. I started picking up some shifts and kept with it for most of a year.

Oddly enough, it was a stressful job that brought me stress relief because it was a job I had for nearly nine years—muscle memory is a wonderful thing. Whereas the upheaval over the shutdown plus all the higher-level stuff that I didn’t know how to do that got dropped on me at my day job was a stress I wasn’t as adept to handle. I waited tables because I could “turn my brain off” for a couple hours a night—get a good night’s sleep because I exhausted myself and hit the ground running in order to handle the stuff I didn’t know the next morning.

It wasn’t because I didn’t have experience but I was taking on division lead duties that I never done before. Authorizing projects, determining budget needs, and trying to advocate for more seasonal employees. However, I was martialized and told I wouldn’t need to worry about a lot of that. And because I didn’t know what I didn’t know it bite me in the ass. It was so irritating because it created a short staff issue that led to me working far more than I should and until I approached the department head of my division in the regional capacity about closing our visitor center for two days during the week, so we wouldn’t be stretched so thin, borderline illegal. I asked a lot of questions that summer, got stymied by the person who was “helping me,” and nearly pulled my hair out… Now, I’m older and wiser and have the next person in my chain of command on speed dial if I ever have a boss that tries to pull a fast one again—because what my supervisor that summer did was shady (maybe even illegal) but I was young and naïve..*

Write—A—Ween

Work in progress!

Hey folks! Fall is starting to wither a little bit here—we’re already getting calls for snow but right now it’s misty and dreary. Perfect Halloween weather—or perfect Halloween writing weather. So, I’m starting my own writing prompt for the two weeks leading up to Halloween. #writeaween

Basically, from today, October 20, 2021, until the 31st you write everyday in any style or form, but it has to have a Halloween theme. Horror, hauntings, broomsticks, dreary days, or spooky nights—make it creepy or suspenseful and put it out there!  

I’ve been on a writing kick lately. I’ve actually posted here several days this week—wow!

#NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is coming up in November and I’m working on something for that. Plus finishing up some of Grandma’s books for the Pennington Book Project through JP Brand Books.

Here are three poems I wrote today over my lunch break! Check out my awesome doodles and errors on paper. I will be editing them to a photo and posting on my PraireRiverWitch social media accounts later tonight.

My writings are mainly poetry, but I had an idea for a spooky hiking short story. Poetry is easier for me time wise, but I wanted to expand a little haunted hike poem into something longer. The real reason is I couldn’t end it the way I wanted too without writing something longer. If you’re interesting see some of those poems for #writeaween check out my other Instagram, @prairieriverwitch.

There are times I feel a little funny about having multiple social media accounts, but I like the separation and being able to curate the feel of each facet of my personality. Occasionally, I cross post some stuff but for the most part it’s pretty compartmentalized by design. I’m blending my blog a little more, from my original backpacking blog, to a more generalized one. It kind of feels like a public facing journal at times right now– and that’s okay.

I don’t think people are just “one thing.” Or only have one singular passion. I have several! I feed them all, usually in waves. My ADHD will hyper focuses on one thing for a bit and then hop to the next. However, with the stuff I love I come back to it—it might take a while, but I’ll get back to it eventually *like this blog*.  

Happy Write–a–Ween!

Keep wandering,

BJ

P.S. You can never have too many writing notebooks…

One from Target, two are my designs, and the one I’m currently writing in I think is from Walmart…