What do I want from CYL?
The truth is, for a long time I haven’t known the answer to that deceivingly simple question.
I do however know that I’ve been feeling myself pull away for for quite a bit of time. It’s not that I don’t love the handmade/arts/craft world and community that have formed around CYL. Because I do. Especially so the people I’ve met over the past several years. But there’s something that doesn’t feel in alignment. And consequently, I’ve been drifting. It’s like being lost at sea with no real destination, with no real purpose. And yet, everyday I struggle to desperately figure out what should I be doing with my time now? How can I be of impact? How can I be effective?
All of that translates to a lack of presence on the platform. Sporadic (cue Brittany Murphy’s Tai, in the 1995 classic, Clueless) posts. Disjointed content. Again, floating in this in-between world caused by indecision.
And If I can’t muster up some excitement and clarity how can I expect others to want to be a part of what I’m creating?
Also, what am I creating??
There has been drop-off over the past year as I’ve been struggling with this question. From 75k followers. To 66.8k followers (*cue tears* why are they leaving me!). To 66.6k followers (well if they don’t care, why should I care!). To 66.4k follower (maybe they don’t care, because I don’t care??). To 66.1k followers (I guess I really need to figure out what the hell I want this to look like now!). To below 66k followers.
Logically, I know my follower count doesn’t matter. I know that what’s most important is that there are authentic connections. Even if only a handful.
Emotionally, however this has taken a toll on me. And it’s not even fair to blame it on the drop-off.
The truth is it’s taken an emotional toll because I’ve refused to do the hard work. The hard work of getting introspective. Of putting aside what has come to be expected of me. Of forgetting what might make me ‘popular’ and liked by other women. Of figuring what matters the most to me. Of figuring out what stirs something real in me.
The thing that gives me a visceral reaction is exploring connections and relationships. Especially between women. I’ve witnessed a lot in my role as figurehead of a community. I’ve witnessed jealousy. Name calling. Bullying. Inauthenticity. And I’ve also witnessed a lot of beauty. True souls that care about the wellbeing of others, just as much as their own. People who don’t have an unkind word to say about others. People who don’t feel intimidated by someone else’s success. People who aren’t seeking external validation, but instead seeking to truly understand others.
And the latter type of person are the type who when they connect with others, make actual magic. It’s this reciprocal relationship where both parties are challenged, nurtured and lifted up.
That is the connection and belonging we all strive for. Even those of (and we all have been guilty at some point) who let gossip, unkind words, callousness, etc. slip from our lips.
Maybe this won’t make me popular. But honestly, who gives a shit?
Because what has come out of me personally committing to true connections is a treasure far greater than being the cool kid on social media. And if I’m going to be totally true, transparent and authentic then I need to get my professional self in alignment with my self-self. And that means going in with both feet. That means risking alienating those that aren’t ready for what I have to say or share.
And that also means opening myself up to the most beautiful thing in the world. Female friendship and connection.
Female friendship seems to be a trending topic along with feminism. Think of all the ‘heyyyy girlfriend’ or ‘hi babe’ marketing copy you see. Think of the posts exclaiming ‘the Samantha to my Carrie’, or for the modernized lady ‘the Abbi to my Ilana’. And while the dancing lady emoji will forever be one my favorites, it certainly is running rampant in the online world! But female friendships have a history much longer, and a significance much bigger, than styled coffee date photos and Rosé Squad Instagram snaps. Marriage used to be a very economic ordeal. And thusly, your female friendships gave you everything you needed emotionally and supported you in the ways your marriage didn’t. Sure, now romantic relationships are much more romantic, and less of an arrangement. But there is still a dire need for girlfriends. No one person can be everything to us. No matter how perfect and amazing your romantic partner may be. We have varied relationships in our life because we are all humans and have various social needs. Yet, we so often take our girlfriends for granted. We take those connections for granted. They have been replaced by likes and comments. With social media we have the whole world at our hands. And we have flocked there seeking some sort of validation from the masses. Often in lieu of recognizing the importance of real deep connections.
I’m not abandoning the handmade/craft/art world (in fact, I’ve teamed up with the very best in the maker world, Sam of Maker’s Movement, to continue serving that community via Handmade Pop-Up). But CYL has to change.
The future of CYL is connections. It’s late night conversations. It’s the joy and (possible) heartbreak of really letting someone in. It’s floods of excitement as you learn the story of a new person. It’s that warm sunshine feeling of realizing you have met a kindred spirit. It’s the sustenance you find in friendship with another female. It’s letting another women be one of the protagonists in your life. It’s the strength women provide one another to get through the trials and tribulations of just being a woman (because we still live in a very masculine society). It’s the bonds you form with the vibrant women in your circle. It’s the solace of standing together to face life. It’s the joy of knowing someone out there really sees you, and likes you just as you are.