“I try more and more to be myself, caring relatively little whether people approve or disapprove.” - Vincent Van Gogh
After seeing this quote the other day, I was reminded of a trip to Amsterdam a group of my best friends and I took together in college. The trip included eating our weight in Poffertjes (dutch pancakes), spending a few too many unaccounted for hours in coffeeshops (drinking only coffee of course), and a sobering trip to the Anne Frank House. The most memorable part of the trip for me though, was a visit to the Van Gogh Museum.
As is protocol for art gazing, the 5 of us showed up together but ended up losing each other in the museum as we each gravitated towards the paintings that spoke to us. Because most of the other museum visitors were about our age, and a little more open-minded then say the crowd at the Louvre, it was easy to talk to people. I found myself many times standing in front of a painting deep in conversation with individuals from all over the world, connecting over those tiny brush strokes.
I thought about that experience and the way we use social media today - to connect with people from all over the world over pretty images. It’s like a little digital art gallery in your pocket. The difference with this gallery though, is it’s measured by likes and follows. It quantifiable. And because we’re all human, we’re made of emotions that are boosted by those double taps steering our “art” in the direction of the popular vote. But walking around that museum, or any art museum for that fact, the little plaque next to the painting doesn’t show you how long someone stood in front of it or measure the amount of positive words spoken about the piece, it’s just there. There for you to decide if you like it or not. If it speaks to a part of you or not.
What if Instagram could be like that? What if there was a version that didn’t show the likes and follows of each account? How would that change the way we express ourselves on this tool? I know I was guilty for years of solely posting quotes because I knew that’s what the algorithm wanted but it wasn’t what my soul wanted. I wanted to speak through my creativity, not quantify it.
Life by Design was born out of a need for my own self-healing after decades of unresolved illness. It wasn’t until finding the courage to look within that I discovered it was my own belief system holding me back from experiencing a truly thriving life. We all have access to that thriving life. We just need to rediscover our power and ignite the healing-self. Only then can we unapologetically live a life by our own design.