Coming from someone who used to obsess over the numbers, let me tell you my story.
It dates all the way back to the Myspace era where users were able to add strangers to their 'friends' list. The bigger the number, the more popular you were — you were part of the elite. I went from a humble 300 to 10,000 and nothing was happening besides these random friend requests and comments on my profile. Then I realized what I was doing wrong. I had the numbers, but I didn't look the part. I wasn't scene enough.
By the time I broke 15,000 'friends', I finally looked up to Myspace-scene-kid standards. No, I'm not going to show you photos because it's incredibly cringy. Maybe some time in the future but not in this post. I had a black, blonde, blue, and pink mullet with gaping ears and a colourful wardrobe. Mind you, I really actually loved the look at the time. But I definitely still went overboard for the attention.
Elite groups on Myspace would reach out to me and ask me to join their society. Awesome. I was one of the cool kids now. It was very similar to how people view IG baddies and such present day. I would be at a local Toronto show and people would recognize me as being CammyCatastrophe™ [VIP, VAIN, PD]. As in Vanity Is Perfection, Vain, and Perfection Dolls. I was excited about people recognizing me as one of these narcissistic, obnoxious scene kids from Myspace.
Eventually, as the platform died, my five minutes of fame died with it and to be honest, so did my self-esteem. I changed the way I look. I didn't want scene hair anymore, and I was sick of hearing my extended family make side remarks about my ears so I took my spacers out. I didn't know how I wanted to look because I didn't have any way of seeing what was trending for me to follow next to keep my popularity.
I realize that I'm painting a very negative light on myself, and I'm fine with it because if you stick with me, I'll show you how I accepted it and why I am the way I am today.
I lost myself. I became someone that the internet said was how I should be. I wasn't ever truly happy with how I looked until the day I let Myspace go. I deleted all the content on my page and never went back. Instead, I focused on school and work, I travelled, and immersed myself in different cultures.
After all of that (in 2009) — you probably think I'm going to say that I changed but — I got sucked into the same vicious circle with Instagram. It was all about getting likes on a photo and having the most followers out of all the people I knew. This time was more difficult since it wasn't as easy as just sending a friend request. My appearance was based off IG baddies and girls who were popular on Tumblr. They got the most likes, so I did to get the same.
It wasn't until the end of 2015, that I began to realize I wasn't myself and that I needed to find out who I truly was and what really makes me happy. I travelled solo to Europe: France, Switzerland, Italy, Vatican City. I forced myself out of my comfort zone and really got to know my boundaries and what I am capable and willing to do to survive. I found me.
Does it really feel good when a 55-year-old creep says suggestive things to you?
Flash-forward to this year, I know who I am now but I was still holding onto this obsession with numbers. It took my boyfriend's words to really make me see how toxic and negative it is. He said to me, "What does it matter if a random stranger comments on your photo and says your attractive? Does it really feel good when a 55-year-old creep says suggestive things to you? What really matters is what you think and the opinions of your loved ones."
He's right. I accepted that I was blinded by the number. I don't want that or need that. What I want is to be myself and be loved and be friended because of who I am. I always loved having internet friends — that never changed. But I want friends just because of my numbers or because of how I look.
So the main takeaway is: don't let the numbers rule or dictate you. Whether it's the way you present yourself or the content you make. Just do you. If people don't like you for who you are, you don't need them!