I’ve been asking myself a question these last few days, “Who is my audience?”
Two months ago I was not as interesting as lots of people think I am today. I don’t say that in a degrading way to myself, like I was of any less value because I didn’t get likes on my Instagram. I say that because I was unimportant to people outside of my physical circle of influence, like friends and family. I only had 200 followers and I knew every person who followed me.
When I was in college I studied Art Education. I created many artworks and build my curriculum for teaching high school around the idea of influence. The title of my curriculum was “SYSTEMS” and helped high schoolers explore all the systems of influence in their life. Each lesson focused on a system the youth were a part of. We starting with self and moved to lessons about family, extended family, friends, neighbors, community, school, city, and finished on the world.
Her are a few examples of some of my work from college dealing with systems.
For my personal art I also added spiritual systems of influence such as my ancestors, posterity, angels, Christ and God. During these years of my life I spent a lot of time learning a truth I now know to be true:
The system I have greatest impact on is myself and my immediate sphere of influence.
For me, this system consists of me, my husband and 4 children. This truth has always focused all of my efforts as an artist and Mother. As I make choices I always consider the impact these choices will have on me, my husband, and my children. I think the better example and positive influence I am on those circles, the bigger my sphere of influence becomes.
I believe many people want to make a big impact on the world, but few do. My money and efforts to help those in far off places has less of an impact then my time and efforts spent helping those who are an arm’s reach away. Mother Teresa said it best, “Never worry about numbers. Help on person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.”
Sometimes that person nearest to us is ourselves, sometimes it is a family member, neighbor, or friend. Usually it is someone we know and know well. This arm’s reach circle of influence is where the most impact can be made. When we are positive and magnify our efforts in these small systems, our influences enlarge, and we can positively impact more people’s lives.
Today I have fourteen thousand followers. In only two months one of my systems of influence, Instagram, has become 70 times bigger. This new following has really made me question what my purpose is in making and creating.
My neighbors and friends keep telling me I’m famous…but I don’t feel famous. I feel like an amateur getting a little bit of attention and not deserving one ounce of it. I keep stressing out that I’m not properly taking advantage of a good opportunity. The questions I get asked the most by friends are, “What is the point?” “What are you going to do now?” “How are you going to make money?” I always have the same response, “I don’t know.” I say, “I guess I’m riding the wave and I’ll see where it takes me.”
The last few weeks I’ve been feeling stressed like I need to make this more professional. I need to make money. I need to make a plan. Yet I’m still unsure of what my end goal is. Who am I wanting to impact?
My viewers come from such a varieties of backgrounds, how do I reach them? I don’t want to become a “numbers chaser” or lose sight of what is most important and I also want to take advantage of this opportunity. It has all given me a new level of stress.
Tonight as I was talking to my husband I explained how I felt nervous to write because I no longer know my audience personally. I would be terrified to speak in front of 14,000 people on a stage. How do I address my audience? He helped me narrow down.
He said, “Pretend like you are writing to one of your kids and pretend like they are now 25 reading about their mom’s creative process. What would you want them to know?” He continued, “Don’t worry about anyone else. Worry about them.”
His advice has given me so much comfort. My kids are my arm’s reach circle of influence. They are the ones who will be impacted most by what I choose to do or write each day. Someday 25-year-old Navy might read this and I hope she feels encouraged. I hope Robin feels inspired. I hope Ezra feels proud. I hope Wes feels my love. These words might have an impact on more people, but it will have a direct impact on them. I need to stay true to myself.