This fall has been a complete identity crisis. If I wasn’t already insecure about the growing number of people who watched my Instagram story, the pause button on life called Covid & Quarantine has lifted. Life is moving forward again, which means my place online and in real-life feels all the more relevant.
However, this is really hard to write and admit, I’m not happy with the identity I’ve created. And it’s not so much that I’m even unhappy with myself, I’m fuming at the perception that has translated offline. I went wrong somewhere. In building the brand that is this social platform, the character that I’ve created, which is completely different than the real-life version, we just have the same name and face, has surpassed or, overtaken the real-version.
Over the past five years, I have spent hours developing a character, an online persona, a brand. The brand has far surpassed the initial coming-of-age life posts. I have some brand deals, do paid campaigns, and the more I shared and the better I articulate the character and brand, the platform grew. Like a business. It is a business. Yes, I do share real-life events and the persona online reflects aspects of my own struggles, but each story, each post, it’s articulated to form the brand. The numbers and engagement just work better with some versions of authenticity, the people come back for a little stereotypical single 20’s rolling her eyes that a boy didn’t text back. Are there some some aspects that are relieving to share to an audience and do I feel my material is relevant and relatable? Yes. But, is it also an articulation of what I feel will cause an increase in numbers and engagement for the brand? You bet.
That being said, this version, the messy 20’s, choosing outfits, chatting to the phone a few hours a day, does that image online carry over to the perception of how I’m seen in real-life. And this fall, I really think so. And, frankly, I’m annoyed by my own girl-bossing.
In college, pre-working student era, I really thought I was hot shit. I mean I charged some money to ride someone else’s horse, taught a few kids, and I was really impressed with my stickability and courage. This bites you in the ass when you get eliminated in the next moment. So, I worked with some good trainers, I took a step back, and I put in the work. Perception wise, I made a decision. I want to be respected within my discipline, I’d rather surprise a crowd that I was competent at my job than overpromise a skill. That mindset also altered how I went about building the brand online. And it’s worked from a financial standpoint.
Yet, I do all of it, all of the work online, the full-time career, the side gigs, so that I can ride, compete, and be one of the best riders. I want so much more. I’m 29, I’ve prioritized this over relationships, family, I want to be one of the best riders, compete my own horse at the top level, I’m going to do it. I just rely on this persona now to financially back those goals a little bit.
Now, you see, I do hear you, “Claire, why didn’t you then choose to go professional full-time” Why the accounting and social media gig, and from a financial and numbers perspective, I analyzed that if I could just improve my quality of riding 5-10% each year, with the same increase in revenue via pasive income and my career, that while at 29 I may not be riding 5*****, I could supposedly meet my goals with a better chance at success but at an older age.
I digress; I was asked to teach at a clinic a few weeks ago. I’ve taught, not in a clinic format, but I can teach a damn good riding lesson with some philosophy and biomechanics mixed in. No one signed up. I can take on 2 to 3 clients’ horses. Right now, my single clients are my parents. One of my sponsors suggested taking lessons a plane ride away and suggested they needed more upper-level riders on their roster since I wasn’t there yet. I was told my 10yo horse had surpassed her prime. One of my best friends told me she would send me her horse to trail ride; I just needed to pay its bills. A good friend of mine was competing in a local horse trial by herself; I offered to walk the course with her if she needed an eye on the ground. She declined.
This is not looking good. Do I promote myself as a competent professional rider? No. Do I regularly share training tips online? No. Do I even want to teach riding lessons full-time? Definitely not.
But, here’s the dilemma. I’m really prideful. So prideful and I want people to know I have everything together and a plan. I am so acutely aware of the way I drop my right seat bone by habit , and the way I have a tendency to roach my back over fences, all I dream of is training with my coaches multiples times a week and soaking up as much education as possible, on my terms. I’m so concerned with how everyone around me views my ability, my decisions. I don’t know what the next move is. I don’t really think changing the brand is the decision financially. Nor, do I think turning my back on everyone who points out a flaw is healthy either. I’d just like a tiny, ounce more credit.
It’s funny, I’m getting a lot of sponsorships. I mean I have some family-known brands reach out. They send me very expensive products or pay me. Brands I’ve respected and been unable to afford my whole life are recognizing my nae. But, and it’s how I got them, it’s because of my ability to sell the product and engagement online, not for my ability and skill as a rider. .
” But, and it’s how I got them, it’s because of my ability to sell the product and engagement online, not for my ability and skill as a rider. “
Did I girl-boss a little too close to the sun?