In the first 2 months of my creative journey, I burnt out.

I spent every waking hour working on my side hustle on top of my two nursing jobs. I sacrificed my relationships with my friends and my family. I justified this as I’m working towards something meaningful.

In reality, I was hurting myself in the pursuit of my dreams.

It had to change. So I shut down my Instagram for four months and only focus on getting to know myself. As I got to know myself, I wanted to share with others what I was learning.

And I learned that I could that with writing.

Your social media environment influences you whether you like it or not.

I quit Instagram because I didn’t know who I was.

I didn’t know what I liked or didn’t like. I was so influenced by what I saw online that I lost myself. So when I came back online, I felt like a new person.

I was more confident in my skills, and I learned to trust my intuition more than the external advice of others.

But that only lasted for so long.

After a while, even if you change the platform you use, social media will find its way to influence your thinking, behaviour, and perception of the world.

James Clear cites his research in this article, “Lewin said that it is not just your personal characteristics, but also your environment that drives your behaviour. Your habits are highly dependent upon context. In many cases, your environment will drive your behaviour even more than your personality.”

Even though I had strong values and a sense of self, I was influenced by advice that doesn’t align with me as I spend a lot of time on social media. For example, I don’t want to change my profile photo into something bright to make myself “stand out” on social media platforms. I don’t agree that you need to take advantage or even use colour psychology for people to click on your profile.

When you follow other people’s advice without a gut check, you fall into self-doubt and confusion. That will make you give up.

TL;DR:

  1. Have your guiding principles, values and be aware of your core beliefs.
  2. Accept that the social environment you pick can influence your thoughts, beliefs, and perception no matter how strong your core beliefs are.
  3. Take breaks often. Use the break to recalibrate whether you’re still working towards something you want or something other people tell you to do.

When you understand that your environment plays a strong role in your behaviour, you become more aware of your actions.

You play a different game that no one else is playing.

When I left Instagram, I found Medium.

And I also joined Twitter. I realize that each platform has its own rules of the game, but you realize that the concept is pretty much the same.

Each platform has an algorithm that everyone is trying to hack. Twitter is playing the “viral threads” game, and Instagram is playing the “reels” game.

But what happens if you don’t want to play that game? Well, you lose. Cause everyone is doing it, so if you don’t, you lose.

I beg to differ.

Maybe, you just have to play a different game that you do like. Because you’re in it for the long run. You’re not trying to be a viral sensation. You’re here to spread an important message through your craft.

When I started my online journey, everyone told me that I had to “find my niche” as if I had to scour every single web and one day, I’ll finally wake up and scream, “I found my niche!”.

No. You don’t find your niche. You create your niche.

While everyone is teaching others to “find their niche or niche down, “ I played the “design your own niche” game.

By doing that, I learned to build an engaged and meaningful community on Twitter. I also learned how to monetize out of nowhere by doing the exact opposite of what everyone else is doing.

So when you join the creator bandwagon, figure out what game others are playing, and ask yourself whether that’s the game you’re willing to play.

If not, either quit the game or make up a different game.

Trust me. If the things you put out there resonate with people, it will find the crowd.

TL;DR:

  1. Figure out what game everyone is playing in your creative pursuit.
  2. Figure out the game that no one else is playing, and see whether you can put something different on the table.
  3. Be brave enough to start your own game, and trust that people who engage with it be a much better reward than vanity metrics.

You become the lighthouse of your designed world.

I’m assuming that you want people to find your craft if you’re in the creative pursuit.

Whether that’s writing, filming or recording. But you’re also here trying to imitate or copy what everyone else is doing because it’s working.

And you get frustrated because you feel like it’s not working for you.

You know why? Because you haven’t decided to own your journey. You haven’t decided to be the leader in whatever pursuit you’re doing. If you want to be known as a creative who becomes a successful online entrepreneur, you have to embrace the highs and the lows that will come with this.

I became the lighthouse for creators who have multiple passions and interests. Because I embraced the fact that I am that kind of person. I didn’t see anyone else talking about that. So I started a conversation.

And now, people are expressing themselves because they’ve been feeling the same too but had no courage to say it.

This isn’t to brag. It took me six months to build the courage to say, “Hey, actually, there’s a different way to make this whole online journey work that doesn’t follow the conventional advice. I’ll be the role model for that, follow me.”

I already experienced the conventional way, and it didn’t work for me.

So I had to find a different way.

TL;DR:

  1. Figure out what everyone is doing in your creative pursuit.
  2. Figure out how you can do it in your way so that it’s different from what everyone else is doing.
  3. Own your journey and be brave enough to shout it so that people who need to hear it will find their way to you.

I’m here to encourage, motivate or inspire you to be the lighthouse for the people you want to serve. Because it only takes one person to like it so much that they will share it with others. And that next person will also share it if they resonate with your message.

Your version is the most important version.

Yoga is of my non-negotiables in the morning.

I picked Adriene, the owner of Yoga with Adriene on YouTube, to be my unofficial yoga teacher.

Sometimes, she’d say words that hit to the core. She’d say words like, “we’ll catch you if you fall,” or “slow down and do it with integrity,” or “do the pose from wherever you are”. These are all in relation to doing a yoga pose that’s applicable to anything in life.

This week while doing yoga, one of her common phrases hit me. Do the halfway lift, your version.

Just like yoga, you have a version of doing things in life. My version of writing consistently is writing every day and publishing three times a week (whether that’s the form of a tweet or a blog post).

You have a version of doing things. It doesn’t matter what instructors you follow instructors, but learn to take their advice with a grain of salt.

Nicolas Cole says that you shouldn’t write on blogs because there’s no feedback loop, and it’s a waste of time. That makes sense. But, David Perell, who’s also a great writer, advocates for building your own digital home.

Both of them are successful, and they’re on the other side of the spectrum.

The lesson? They made their version of success.

TL;DR:

  1. Learn your own version of doing things:
  • What’s your version of being consistent in showing up online?
  • What’s your version of helping others?
  • What’s your version of selling things?

2. Commit to your version for a very long time.

I am making up my version of how I want to pursue my creativity.

From the use of platforms to the actual content and selling. And I encourage you to do the same because only you know yourself.

The successful people you admire don’t know you. They don’t know your life, your resources, and your dreams. You can learn all the tips and advice they give you, but it might not work for you.

Final Thoughts

I’m a rebel in real life.

No wonder when I dived into the online world, the conventional advice wouldn’t work for me. And the journey became much harder than it needed to be.

But once I put myself first every time, things started to fall in place. I became comfortable in writing. I became comfortable in reaching out to people and in selling things online.

This journey starts with you, and you’re the only one who can motivate yourself to keep going.

Your favourite influencer and creator won’t tell you what to do. You can use them as an inspiration and a motivation. But, don’t think that you’ll have a guaranteed success by following in their exact footsteps.

It’s more important to do things your way and put out the things you genuinely care about.

Only then the people who are meant to find it will find it.

*This post first appeared here.


A gift for you: a free template to track your writing so you can design your niche.