Early this morning I couldn’t sleep. So I did what millions of other people would have done, opened Instagram. As I was scrolling through people’s stories, I landed on one of my favorite people that I follow, Kaitlyn Bristowe. I interviewed her earlier this year for the podcast and found her to be super genuine, goofy and unapologetic about her flaws. In her story from yesterday she shared a not-so-shocking but extremely upsetting statistic that depression and anxiety are up 70% in young women.
I’ve shared on here my own battles with depression and anxiety and the shame that comes with not feeling in control of your brain at times. But this really hit me. According to the study, social media is a huge reason for this dramatic increase. There have been a lot of women who have posted the truth behind their IG accounts. They’ve shared everything from posing tricks to Photoshop to how much they’re being paid to wear an outfit. But something I haven’t really seen, but I’ve actually lived, is the financial nightmare that can come with social media.
I follow Kim Zolciak Biermann because she’s always cracked me up and I’ve loved her relationship with her husband and kids but recently she’s shared that her husband brought home not one but 2 very exclusive Chanel bags. My first response to this photo is “how lucky is she that her husband brings her super expensive bags.” What?! Automatically my brain thinks what I have isn’t enough and automatically I now want something that wasn’t even on my radar a second ago.
Let’s talk about what I have financially to get this started. I have everything you could ever need. I have no student loans from business school or grad school and I have a trust fund that pays me every month a pretty decent amount. Not enough to not have to work but enough to be able to love what I do for work. I have no mortgage on my home nor a car payment. So essentially I have the normal costs of living to worry about.
What I also have is a nagging need for approval, success and “perfection.” I’ve shared what this perfectionism has done to me before but never shared about what it did to my finances. While transitioning The Sports Brat to more of a personal blog I began feeling immense amount of pressure to keep up and be like the other bloggers. In my mind, if I could get to 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 followers then I will be successful and I will prove that I did it. All that really does is give me some kind of validation, but why do I need validation from Instagram?
In my pursuit to be a blogger, I’ve spent money on the following: web design, photography, graphics, publicist, social media guru, clothes, trips, tickets, marketing materials, web hosting, software, podcast equipment, home office and even dining out. I spent money on these things before ever making a dollar because I was so desperate to keep up.
It’s hard for me to share the number because I’m still working through my shame but it was so high that bankruptcy or a loan looked like my only options. I know plenty of people have debt but this was not money spent on education, living, or anything else that was a necessity. This was me trying to buy my success. Wow, that statement stings but its the truth. I still feel the embarrassment but part of healing is being honest and this is a big part of my story.
I was able to take out a loan and pay it back thankfully but what kind of blogger would I be if I just perpetuated to young girls (or anyone for that matter) that I could afford everything I’d posted about? My boyfriend gave me a nice bag for my birthday, and sure enough I shared it on Instagram and the blog. I didn’t say it was from him, so I’m sure it gave the idea that I bought it, or more importantly, that I could buy it. When in reality, that is not in my budget at all right now. It would break my bank to make a purchase like that in this moment. If people will be trusting my advice, they need to know the whole story.
I am currently debt free but I’ve made a lot of changes. Namely cutting all of those costs out except some photographs, web hosting and marketing materials. I’ve changed how I approach the business and I’ve had a much easier time just being me. BUT I still have a lot of room to grow.
Yesterday, at the Byron Nelson with friends, I stopped our group several times in the quest for the perfect photo. One that would showcase my outfit (so I could sell it), one that I liked how I looked (so friends and strangers would think I was pretty) and for one that would essentially send the message “look how awesome my life is, I’m The Sports Brat and I’m out here at the Byron Nelson living the dream.” Again, wow. Why do I need the validation? Why do I need the attention? My favorite part of what I do is taking people along to a game or event if they couldn’t make it. I’ll never go to the Oscar’s so I love when celebs share videos but that’s what I really want to do, take people along, not make them feel inferior for not going. I don’t want anyone to see my page and think anything less of themselves.
This was one of the photos a stranger took for us and I normally would have deleted it, it’s not great of either of us but this is the one I want to share because yesterday wasn’t about my outfit, it was about spending time smiling with B. So of all the photos from yesterday, this is the one that best represents the day. Not the one of me posed perfectly with the manicured green in the background.
Look, my life is great and I have worked very hard to be where I’m at now, not just in business but as a human being. But the last thing I would want is to set an unrealistic standard for anyone. It’s amazing to set goals, to have wants and to work hard for them but at the end of the day we need to be honest, none of us are perfect and we’re all just doing our best.
I got into real financial trouble. I would listen to Financially Fearless with Alexa Von Tobel and just cry. I didn’t know what to do and the worst part was that I went through it alone for a long time. It is so easy to spend. There are apps and links and 24/7 media consumption that remind me at all hours just how many things I didn’t have that I wanted.
I’m not sure how many people will read this and of that number how many will resonate with it, but I started blogging to share my knowledge and experience in sports with people and that’s since transitioned into also sharing my experiences as a person. I know I will still post professional photos but it’s important that anyone who reads this or anything else on my blog knows how grateful I am, but also knows how flawed I am.
If I fail at this, if I never get a single follower, if no one buys the sneakers, if I don’t lose the 10 lbs I’ve gained, if I lose all of my hair, if I never get married or get to be a mom it’s all ok. See these are the things I see and want to change when I look at other people’s social media. But all I can do is my best and my best is to try to learn from mistakes, share them with others and to try to grow as a person every day.
I love The Sports Brat and I love being the sports brat. I don’t plan to stop but I think its far more authentic to have a “fumbles” tab on here because my life is no different from sports. It is not perfect, there have been and will continue to be fumbles, some days I just don’t play that well and look, not everyone will root for me. But I can tell you that there’s a lot of joy in figuring out that I want to be real with people rather than have everyone like me. This is my creative outlet and that’s all it has to be.
I am no expert, nor a professional but if you’re struggling financially I love Financially Fearless, Love Your Life Not Theirs, and Alone Together. (FYI none of these are linked for me to earn a commission from)
I have a lot to learn and I think as a society we all are learning with this whole social media thing but for starters let’s just remember that it’s a highlight reel, its branding and its no different from when models and celebs used to tell us to buy Pepsi. It’s advertising. If we can remember these facts we can hopefully keep our negative self talk in check too.
Have a fantastic week! Check back under the “Fumbles” tab for more of my personal mistakes and experiences.