Challenge Accepted. The Learning Curve.
It's not always black & white.
When pandemic times started overwhelming me, I decided to limit my exposure to the media articles that were causing me panic. I also wanted to be more curious with any Instagram scroll time. My objective was to make some new connections within the community and support local whenever I could. I wanted to tap back into my artistic side that got lost in the day to day beast that is business and what being "busy" can be.
To my surprise I really can say that genuine connections have been made. Not everyone you connect with online is trying to sell you something 24/7. Of the new follows & few online local purchases I did in fact make: I am happy with every #shopsmall purchase, feeling good to support a local artisan and a small business just like myself in the process.
In the spirit of keeping things real: my Instagram account although mainly business is not exclusive to work only. I have found the secret sauce for me to feel fully represented & garner some new clients along the way isn't traditional advertising at all. It's more than portfolio photos & tips of the trade, it's been sharing a glimpse of how I live for perspective clients to get to know me and feel comfortable in working with me. It took me a while to show my face a bit more & feel totally comfortable with what I share. But now I am here, sharing as authentically as possible because the process of design in itself is a really personal one.
So one morning a few days ago when one of my new online friends who shares wonderful positivity daily sent me a DM about a female empowerment black and white picture challenge requesting I participate, I felt genuinely happy to do so. It did not feel like chain mail. I do not follow a slew of celebrity accounts or spend hours online so I had no idea this was a "thing". This is where my own learning curve comes into play. In hindsight, I still probably should have researched this further before I obliged. I own that. I believe I was asked with good intentions and in turn I acted with good intentions.
My participation was not in vain, I didn't spend more then a minute picking the first selfie I could find in my camera roll. One that I likely sent to my sister laying on the sofa after she asked me: "What are you doing?" I don't even remember to be honest. What I do know is that when I noticed online backlash I instantly became concerned, thinking, I didn't want to seem vain. But then I cautioned myself. My younger self was always very critical. Critical of myself and others. At 40+ I am working on being kinder, gentler, when it comes to judgements. I believe that with anything applied to a large group you will have people doing the very same thing with very different intentions. To pick it all apart to dissect who was more concerned with a glamour shot vs. who wanted to impart a positive message is trivial.
I updated my Instagram post to remove the "Challenge Accepted" hashtag to make room for the bigger conversation at large. This is the grey area for me: Even though Instagram confirms this hashtag is not originating in one particular country or to one particular cause necessarily: If there is something deeper to learn from this movement that I was totally unaware of, I am listening and want to learn! I have realized it's okay to not be an expert in everything. I want to support positive change in this world. I am sharing an interesting article that I came across that touches on this topic that I think fairly addresses the blurred lines with these challenges and positive meanings potentially getting lost with the whole selfie aspect, The Cut: What Is ‘Challenge Accepted,’ Exactly?
The article links to some really important issues that go deeper then anything that is surface level vanity. Please read if you have a couple of minutes.
This black and white photo of my daughter and I was taken with blind folds on. She wanted to play a game without being able to see as a "challenge". I couldn't see what I was doing when I took the photo: what was captured is us smiling from the inside out and that is why it's so beautiful to me. For anyone curious as to why I didn't take down my Instagram original post it's not because I think I look nice in the photo so it stays. It's as simple as knowing that if this was a lesson to be learned it's right here in my feed in black & white to remind me that I'm far from perfect. There is always an opportunity to learn and grow. I pray for a better tomorrow for my daughter. I will always advocate for progressive change, even if it's calling myself out as needed. I am signing off this blog post reiterating peace, love and light to all. NM, Xx