I Want To Thank All My Unfollowers

“A fixation with connecting with ‘friends’ online comes with the risk of disconnection with friends waiting for you to be present in the offline world.” 

– Craig Hodges

I’ll be honest with you all, I’m more granola than I am Instagram model. I’ve never been or thought of myself as sexy, or someone who could sell their face or body as some sort of brand. But when I started Be You. I realized I had to sell myself. I had to create this image of myself and be consistent and devoted to it. I needed to make those watching fall in love with the person I am, or the person I wanted them to see.

Be You. being built on the platform of welcoming real-life struggles made mastering Instagram really tough. Be You. is supposed to be a refuge for the different and unique, a haven of sorts where real life can happen and it be okay. I wanted a safe place for people to read about and engage with other people not oversaturated by what’s plastered on the internet.

Somehow through building my brand and trying to find other likeminded souls to travel this journey with me, I lost sight of the Be You. purpose. Yes, I am an internet-based entity, but what really goes on in Be You. happens in the real world. This means I have to be involved in the real world for the brand to work. However, the real world and success on social media very rarely coincide in the same space. I was constantly on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and you guessed it – Instagram.

You’ve read, or I hope you’ve read, about my journey to become more mindful. Now considering all I’ve just said about the devotion Instagram requires, how well do you think I was doing at living in the present moment?  Yeah…… All of my present moments happened on the internet. Liking others photos, leaving thoughtful comments, posting on my InstaStory, and even my movements through the world were marked with “Can you take a picture of me?” So now I’m editing photos and choosing the content. I’m coming up with thoughtful and relevant hashtags and deciding if this place is “cool enough” for a geotag.

And would you believe it? I was popular. The official Be You. Instagram had almost 10,000 followers. Each picture grossed between 400 and 600 likes. The website was booming with people reading my posts and engaging with one another. I was working with brands that fit with my own and I thought I was happy. But living in the moment, moment to moment, non-judgmentally and constantly engaging on social media to make sure you stay relevant don’t fit. They’re two puzzle pieces from two different boxes. I was popular in a world that didn’t exist – or only existed in an invisible, non-engageable, wifi space.

I deleted my Be You. Instagram and I focused on just my personal one. I figured I could slowly and organically re-grow my following through thoughtful engagement and posts. I could be normal, in the real world, and be just as popular. Boy was I wrong. I limited my Instagram time each day to 30 minutes and I lost 70 followers. I stopped posting as many pictures of me in tight outfits, or of me period, and I lost about 160 likes per post. I had restarted and I was being true to myself and my vow to live in the real world, and I was failing at gaining support for Be You.

Come to find out, my failure was inevitable. Instagram orchestrated this type of reception with their new algorithm.

  1. If you spend less time on Instagram they reward you by letting fewer people that may be interested in your content see it.
  2. If you change your caption they penalize you with less exposure.
  3. If you’re a normal person with normal person pictures then you don’t get as much publicity.
  4. If you’re a business account (which Be You. is because it’s a personal blog) and you’re not the most popular then people won’t see you, unless they follow one of your hashtags. My assumption is this hopes to promote “businesses” to pay for posts to be promoted.
  5. If you’re on Facebook (which I’m not anymore) then you get privileges from the two programs being owned by one company.

I’m sure there are many more, but those are the ones I found most consistently.

For normal people like me: A graduate student, with basically no expendable income, that doesn’t have time to constantly engage or create the most beautiful content to constantly supply the internet with, and definitely wants to get this doctorate sooner rather than later……it can be really tough! I don’t want to spend money to promote a post. I don’t want to spend, or more accurately, waste valuable time from my life devoted to internet “friends.”

But you do start to feel like maybe something is wrong with you, especially when the purpose of the content is authenticity. The interaction and posts that were working before are no longer working. Your platform, the one you were proud of before, is no longer intriguing to people. This is what caused me to go looking for reasons. What I found was your typical Black Mirror type trickery. Instagram takes your engagement and subsequently decreases your followers, to increase your personal engagement with the app by banking on your desire to gain that engagement back. Confusing, I know.

Well Instagram, even though you’ll definitely win the war with the masses, you’ve lost this battle to Be You. I hope they lose a few more battles along the way because there is nothing like being a part of this beautiful world. Even with all of the negativity and current political turmoil, when you have people that love you and true appreciation for the beauty and ingenuity of this world moments are priceless.

I think I’ll keep my “picture perfect life [versus the one] you lie about in your captions.”  

Unmasked

April 10th, 2017

This week has been a weird week for me. It seems like the past few weeks I’ve started to realize I’ve been wearing masks. Not literal masks, but through my clothing. I’ve been wearing what everyone else wanted to see me in. I was wearing things I was expected to wear, styles I was expected to like, but now since I’ve started selling all of my clothes I’m stuck. I’m left with things I truly love, but those things aren’t enough to make a full wardrobe. Many of them are basics: basic long-sleeves, basic crop tops, basic one pieces, basic flannels. Just basics. Everyone needs basics and everyone loves their basics, but no one, or very few, have a whole wardrobe of just basics, right?

So now I’m left with essentially rebuilding from the bottom. I’m faced with the task of deciding what I want people so see me as, and building a wardrobe that reflects that. I tried, previously, to use the Nordstrom money for work clothes, for my new graduate school position, but I’m still lost. I look at everything I used to throw into my shopping carts and no longer find myself in any of them. I’ve realized I don’t like frilly shirts. I don’t like things with crazy patterns. I don’t like floral designs. I’m not a huge fan of the off-the-shoulder. I don’t like short shorts. I don’t like boob revealing shirts. I don’t want those 3-quarter length pants everyone is wearing now. I don’t like peplums. I don’t want anything with a huge graphic on it. I don’t like most things, now that I’m making this list, and this isn’t even the whole list!

But I do like basics. I guess it’s weird. I went through a preppy stage. I had a punk stage. I was a hipster for a while. But now I’m starting from the beginning and all I want are basics. I just want white shirts in innovative shapes. I just want long blazers in neutral colors. I don’t want shorts that cling, but shorts that flow. I don’t want pants with designs, but neutral colors in a pioneering style.

I started this piece to talk about how I feel like I don’t know myself anymore, but I guess I do know myself. I do know what I want and what I want to see myself in. I am an understated person. I’m chill, but I have a bit of flare. I’m calm, but can be very sharp. As I write this I realize that’s the exact style I’ve described. I’m not lost. I just need to become comfortable again with doing what I want, and wearing what I want. I need to feel comfortable not doing what people expect, but doing what I love. I guess that’s all I’ve got to do – Until Next Time My Friends – Be You.

Becoming Me

March 6th, 2017

The last time we talked I was confessing how greedy I felt, and how uncomfortable it was to be faced, so blatantly, with your imperfections. As my closet became more empty and my drawers more bare I started to feel it too, inside. I love fashion and my clothes are a huge part of what I felt made me who I was. I love putting together outfits; trying weird and outlandish styles; and doing crazy things with my shoes, accessories, and hair. I live for it! So to see my drawers and closets so bare made me feel like I’d lost a part of myself.

The more I sat with the idea, however, the more I realized that if anything I’d become even more me. I was even more Alexis than the day before. If anything, I was the most Alexis I had ever been. I was left with the bare bones of what it is to be me. With what I do have now I am undoubtedly and unapologetically exact who I want to be and nobody else. There is no second guessing me. There is no wondering what I’m like. I am just simply who I am. When I began to let go of my things as defining points I began to hold more tightly to myself.

I had valued myself as someone who could be whoever I wanted to be. One day I could be goth, preppy, hipster, hippie, etc., but the more I sat with this idea the more I realized this was just a physical way for me to say, “I have no idea who I am.” In a sense I had defined myself by having no real definition. I had given myself an explanation for what I thought was strength. “Be whoever you want – You can do anything.” Right? But now I know the hardest part is deciding to be something.

You can do anything and you can be whoever you want to be, but one of the hardest parts about life deciding to be it. It’s easy to be a free spirit, because you never really have to commit to anything. You never really have to make any real decisions that could influence your life one way or another. All you have to do is decide, that day, who you want to be. There’s no fear in it. There’s no expectation. But to take the time to decide who you are, who you want to be, and what morals and values you want to be defined by, that’s huge. That’s a responsibility. It requires accountability and commitment. It’s serious. But in the same way it’s beautiful. It’s confidence, the true and unabridged version of it.

I have entered this realm where I am exactly who I am, defined by my love for the environment, my activism for equal rights, my desire for a healthier life for the next generation, my sexual abstinence, and determination to succeed. I am a Christian and unashamed. I am artistic, creative, and I love my family more than anything in this world. I want love and a family and I’m not embarrassed to try things and get hurt by them. I don’t believe in many social norms, because I feel they perpetuate the unhealthy cycle of insecurity and perfectionism. I love and believe in the healing power of meditation, yoga, and evidence-based psychotherapy. I’m imperfectly perfect. I am Alexis and I have made a decision to be her. It is the most important decision of my life, and I wouldn’t trade with a single person. Not even for a day.

Minimalism is beautiful like that. By simply stripping away the unnecessary you are left with only what matters. You never realize how the physical impacts the mental and emotional. Stay Tuned My Friends – Because I’m Just Getting Started!

Can I Get Some Bacon With My Eggs, Please

Everyone LOVES breakfast! Before I became a vegan breakfast was the number one meal I looked forward to actually having time to make on the weekends. From crispy bacon to eggs, pancakes, and hash browns, it all just sounds so mouth watering! I’m sure not to your surprise however, once I became a vegan it was increasingly hard for me to enjoy my favorite meal. Oatmeal became the staple with toast and fresh fruit. Which sounds amazing when you only have to eat it every once and a while, but when you force yourself to eat it almost every day it gets a little tiresome. So what I did was set out for some vegan breakfast alternatives to bring some excitement back to my breakfast menu. Now, I preface this by saying I suggest these with no dietitian license, but based solely on the recommendations of others, my individual tastes, allergies, health needs, and enjoyment!

What I did first was look on the PETA website. They have some great lists for vegan items you can easily find at your local grocery store. There are bagels, pancakes mixes, bread brands, etc. that are easy to make, find, and low cost. I recommend Melt vegan butter and Follow Your Heart vegan cream cheese, as well as Tofutti vegan cream cheese as basic refrigerator essentials. I’m going to do another post on vegan cheeses, because I have put a lot of work into this search, but one thing I will tell you is that in my opinion, for the new vegan and for many other vegans, Daiya is not a good tasting cheese. It melts very well, but it does not taste good, again in my opinion. I was very disappointed when most of the websites I looked on suggested Daiya and upon purchasing it I had to throw it away, because I just could not eat it. Oh well! A story for another day!

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Image From Shannon @ Yup, It’s Vegan

But two sites that have helped me tremendously with my transition are Vitacost.com and Vegan Essentials. They are both online grocery stores that carry vegan items. Vitacost also carries regular groceries and non-vegan products, but gives you the option to shop explicitly vegan, which I love! Vegan essentials is exactly how it sounds and carries everything from food to clothing, all vegan! I wasn’t too excited when I became forced to start getting a lot of my non-refrigerated products from online stores. I thought the prices would be out of this world, and for Vegan Essentials it is very pricey to shop, but I get most of my items from Vitacost which is very cost effective for the vegan on a budget, like myself. Pictured above we have The Vegg French Toast Mix, which for the price gives you 235 servings of delicious french toast. It is also very easy to make by only using 3 ingredients.

Next, you see Follow Your Heart’s vegan eggs. I was skeptical about this product at first, but now I find that I can’t live without it! The eggs take a little longer to cook, but are incredibly delicious and genuinely comparable to actual eggs. Last pictured above are 3 slices of vegan bacon by Lifelight. Now, when I tell you I am a bacon expert that is no exaggeration. I have tried every type of bacon from Turkey to thick maple, and when I gave up meat I never thought I’d find something even remotely close to my one true love. Guess again! Smart bacon, while different from turkey bacon by having to be cooked on the stovetop, takes just like turkey bacon! Now, if you never liked turkey bacon then I would continue looking for another substitute, but for those of you that do enjoy it look no further!

Breakfast doesn’t have to be boring and repetitive just because you’ve decided to do your part in saving the world 😉 . It can be exciting and tasty just as it was before, and I’ll be here for new vegan’s in search of advice on transitioning and product/food replacement to help along the way. I thank you for your sacrifice and pray for your good fortune and that you always remember to just Be You.!

 

Gluttony and Greed

 

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Images From Fed Up and Cowspiracy Documentaries

Recently I’ve been watching a lot of “cause” documentaries on Netflix. I stumbled upon two documentaries that have really changed my outlook on American and worldly big business: Cowspiracy and Fed Up . Based on just these two documentaries alone I have been provided with copious information about the environment and the world around me that I would have otherwise never known. Big business and big food corporations have done a fantastic job of keeping these shocking statistics out of the media. For example, 13% of children today are MORBIDLY obese, not just obese, but morbidly obese. In the next 25 years it is estimated that 1 in every 3 people will have Diabetes. Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US [more than all modes of transportation combined (cars, trains, planes, etc.) – 13%] and 51% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The gluttony and greed of the human race is destroying the lives of the next generation and the world as we know it. Please, I beg everyone, start paying attention!!!

The Change Starts Here

“The world suffers a lot. Not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people.” – Napoleon

About a week ago the United States had over 100 lives changed forever. Orlando, Florida became the location of the largest mass shooting in American history, at a nightclub called Pulse. Pulse is known as a largely homosexual nightclub, and the shooter is said to have struggled with accepting his sexual preferences (a possible cause for his unhinging). I know I told you guys we were going to do a Top 10 posts in honor of the new Be You. Page, but I think this cause is way too large to be ignored.

Lately, the minority of focus has been African American males. It seems like every day there’s another cop shooting of a young African American male that can’t be justified by a simple “fear for one’s life.” I in no way try and belittle those wrongs or make light of those losses, but I think sometimes it’s easy to forget the struggles of others when we have such flagrant misuses of authority occurring so frequently. Last week was a shocking reminder of the prejudice other minority groups are still facing. Being different has become such a threat for American’s today. It almost makes you wonder why people would want to move here in the first place. The United States is supposed to be a melting pot of racial and ethnic acceptance, as well as social, religious, and marital/relational freedom. FREEDOM. That’s what we’re known for. We’re known for allowing people to be exactly who they are without judgment or persecution. But the more time that goes by and the more aware that I become, the more I notice that being different in the United States is almost a death sentence waiting to happen.

It is human nature to not like change and to prefer things that are normative to their group, but the extremes we’ve hit today are inexcusable. When you’re afraid to just be a minority, to just be gay, or black, or in a minority group of any kind then it should be a red flag to everyone in America that we’re doing something wrong. We’re teaching values that are giving way to violence and rigid thinking. We aren’t teaching our children to love and be loved by others, but to judge others that are unlike them, to fear them, and/or verbally and physically abuse them. Violence has become such an easy answer to delaying dealing with emotions we don’t understand. We’ve taught the next generation to take the cowards’ way out, even worse they’re now using guns. There’s no talking in gunplay, there’s no healing from death, there are no take-backs. We’ve given these children, that already lack the proper skills to process his or her emotions and already value prejudice over acceptance, access to guns. We’ve given them the ability to end the life of anyone who doesn’t see their side, agree with his or her way, or choose to live according to his or her standard. We’re failing. We’re failing to teach the next generation what’s important. We’re failing to teach them that’s it’s not about “Keeping up with the Jones’s,” it’s about being exactly who you are and loving yourself. It’s about accepting yourself and being tolerant of others.

These senseless acts of violence are cries for help from people who have lost their way. They are cries for help for entire communities and populations. It’s easy to look at the news and say, “Man, I wish that would change. There’s so much wrong with the world,” but the real change starts at home. The change starts with accepting our children and teaching them to love and accept others. The change begins when we do away with “the norm” and teach that what’s normal is exactly who they wish to be, whenever they wish to be it. The change begins when we are able to see someone different than ourselves and not see disgust or desire aggression, but see beauty and desire love and tolerance. Don’t put this burden off on the next generation, because guess who is now looking to us and paying attention to how we react to adversity and different lifestyle choices? The Next Generation. The next generation sees it all and is paying attention. The next generation sees this hate, judgment, and violence and is likely to imitate what they see if they aren’t taught otherwise. Be responsible for your part. Love all human beings and all life choices. Pass on this love and acceptance to everyone around you. Teach peace and open-mindedness. And most importantly never be afraid to, in your own life, just Be You.