The concept of a comment section on the Internet is generally a scary and overwhelming place and for good reason. The more that we have been allowed free rein of anonymity on the Internet, the more and more people start to feel free to express some of the more controversial and hateful opinions that they harbour with little empathy for others, as is seen particularly with articles and content created by women. Aubrey Hirsch in particular writes about her experiences in receiving online vitriol for content that she has created, and the ferocity that was in some of those comments was quite honestly horrifying. I knew in my brain that those types of things were being said on the internet, but to see the real screenshots of what people have to say when they are given the appropriate environment was jarring at best.
When I was designing Considering Cardamom, the template I picked out for my site had comments automatically built into the post formats. Initially, that was something of a turn-off for me. The last thing that I wanted was to have to potentially deal with disrespectful comments or people criticizing my content. Furthermore, reading more and more about the backlash that women experience when writing articles was overwhelming even just to think about. I’m not a professional journalist, I am not writing this blog intending to reach the masses and educate them about my opinion. The posts I write are for personal reasons, whether those are for internal reflection or just to have a record of some of the recipes that I’ve learned from my family.
Ultimately, I did decide to leave the comment sections open. Logically, it makes little sense that there would be a large amount of political debate or harassment within my comment sections given the content of my blog. I highly doubt that people are going to be sending me death threats or sexual harassment over my chai recipe. The context of a site is so important to consider, and it put my worries at ease to realize I wasn’t going to be linking my real full name to any highly controversial content. Additionally, while checking out other recipe blogs that I have used in the past, one thing I noted was that most of them had open comment sections. Most of them that had significant activity allowed users who made the recipes to offer suggestions and personal anecdotes that could facilitate new users’ experiences while cooking. I wanted to provide that possibility for a community and figured that I would handle any unrelated comments as they arose.
Creating Considering Cardamom has been a learning curve on just about every front imaginable. I always used to think of blogging as something easy to do, that you could just sit down and write whatever came to mind and people would give you money for it. I never really understood how someone could make a full living off of something as simple as that, and I will be honest, I definitely thought that bloggers were a little bit ridiculous when they complained about how much work they had to do. However, being on the opposite end of things now, I can see that there is a whole lot more to blogging than just writing.
One thing that I know I’ve definitely taken for granted is the presence of an audience just waiting for content to be distributed to them. On most social media platforms that I’ve participated in with a public account, it has not taken long for me to develop a relatively large audience with very minimal effort. One funny Tiktok using a trending sound could get me over 16K views. Running a blog is very different, as I’ve noticed from looking at my analytics. The last time I checked, the high point of traffic on my site was a grand total of 11 people. Judging from the fact that they logged in on a Monday and the class for which I am developing this blog had an assignment due on Tuesday, it was no great surprise to me that my fellow students might want to see what I had done to gain inspiration for their own assignments.
I think that in the future if I choose to continue this blog, I would want to incorporate social media into my blog to help grow my audience. When it comes to recipe sites, I rarely seek specific blogs out on Google. More often than not, I end up finding a delicious-looking recipe by scrolling through Tiktok or Instagram and getting a link back to the site where the recipe is hosted. This idea of transmedia storytelling is something that I know I have experienced several times from a consumer perspective, but was not aware of the name or intention behind it. The use of different mediums to appeal to different audiences all contributing to the same overall brand is something that’s seen in social media, entertainment, fashion and more. From a back-end point of view, this is a brilliant strategy and one that I myself would love to give a shot when I have the time available to film and edit social media videos.
I feel like this question is the most common question I get asked from non-EV users. For this blog, I will try my best to be as transparent as possible in the most concise and digestible way for all my readers. This is the best estimate on how much it costs to charge my Tesla and I will be comparing the charging costs against how much it costs to fill up my gasoline car which is a 2011 BMW 323i.
We will assume the follow charging rates from BC Hydro electricity (BC Hydro, 2022) 0.14 cents per kwh (BC Hydro has two rates, step 1 rate of $0.09 per kWh and step 2 rate of $0.14 per kWh, the average household tends to pass the step 1 threshold so we will be using the step 2 rate to calculate the electricity cost). To make thing’s easier, I have an iPhone app that tracks my at-home charging history on my Tesla Model 3 called “Optiwatt” (not sponsored). The app does not track how much I spend on Tesla Superchargers or Pay per use public charging stations (these tend to cost ~$0.50 per kWh) which I have never used since I got the vehicle.
For gas prices, we will assume premium gasoline costs $2.00 per litre since BMW’s and other german vehicles require premium gasoline (Park Ave BMW, 2020). I could provide receipts here of all my gasoline purchases, but I will just estimate how much it costs me to fill up my BMW with an average amount of driving.
Let’s start with the Tesla Model 3, since I got the car in March 2021, it has only costed me a total of $409.82 with 27,353 kilometers on the odometer. To put it into perspective, a full tank of gas on my BMW 323i costs me ~$120 which gives me ~600km of range. This means that, if I spent $400 on gas for my BMW, I would only get to drive a distance of ~2,000km versus the entire 27,353 total kms driven on the Tesla! Don’t believe me? Here are the screenshots from my optiwatt account…
This is just a quick and easy way to explain how much it costs to charge my Tesla Model 3. Charging costs vary by municipalities, countries, and the type of chargers you use. I’m hoping this gives my readers a glimpse of how cheap it is to charge a Tesla. Of course there are many other factors that go beyond the scope of this blog, but I am more than happy to go deeper into charging related questions via comments, email or by scheduling a zoom meeting, so feel free to leave comments on this post or contacting me via email at email@example.com.
BC Hydro. (2022). Residential rates. BC Hydro – Power smart. Retrieved November 20, 2022, from https://app.bchydro.com/accounts-billing/rates-energy-
Park Ave BMW (2020). What Type of Gas Does My BMW Take? Park Ave BMW | BMW Car News and Research. Retrieved November 20, 2022, from
Featured photo: Manthey, N. (2022). Tesla opens paid charging at (some) Destination Chargers. Electrive.com. From: https://www.electrive.com/2022/08/04/tesla-opens-paid-charging-at-some-destination-chargers/
This week I had the opportunity to look over yet another website of one of my peers. Caffeinated Tammy is a personal and lifestyle blog run by Tamanna about her daily life, the things she enjoys, and her experience as a first generation Indian immigrant. As a child of immigrants, it was wonderful to read through her blog and see someone who had such similar and still opposite experiences to myself. There is a refreshing overlap between our content, with both of our blogs being dedicated towards remaining in touch with our culture.
In terms of marketability, I think that Tammy has done an excellent job in ensuring that her site can be discovered by her intended audience. She has links to several different social media platforms indicated clearly at the bottom of her site. One thing that I would recommend in terms of social media links is to have the social media links and icons also listed at the top of the site as well. The lists of pages on the menu are on the right side of the header, leaving space for social media links on the left side. In general, it is generally unlikely that readers will read anything that is “below the fold” unless they are given sufficient motivation or are looking for something in specific. Following this logic, we can assume that they will not be scrolling all the way to the bottom of the page and therefore it is likely that the social media links will be missed.
The social media platforms themselves are as well quite well chosen in regards to Tammy’s intended audience. Her choice in uploading posts to Tiktok, Instagram and Twitter make logical sense given that the user demographics of each of those sites are generally younger audiences. Based on how the algorithm on Tiktok in particular works, those who interact with content that is similar to Tammy’s will be more likely to see her posts. The title of her website is also both distinct and inoffensive enough that a Google search will lead to the intended blog, and there is little overlap with other platforms. Furthermore, Tammy’s use of social media operates in the same fashion as the transmedia storytelling, in that each platform linked can be consumed almost entirely on its own, however they all contribute to the same overall story. Overall I have little to suggest, and can’t wait to do more stalking into her site!
Aside from the astronomical amount of homework I seem to have collected in the past two weeks, I’ve really been enjoying running this blog over the past few months. It’s a really nice creative outlet that allows me to reflect on my own experiences as well as a reason to kick myself in the butt a little bit in terms of leaving my room and learning to cook with my mom. I’ve really enjoyed the experience, and having the opportunity to share that through this platform is actually a lot less nerve wracking than I thought it might be. Furthermore, as I’ve been applying for co-op jobs, this site has been an invaluable resource and incredibly helpful in demonstrating my experience and skills with website design and copywriting to potential future employers.
Something that hasn’t really crossed my mind in the past little while is the concept of SEO. In my past job when I worked for WIFTV, the site I was running had a built in SEO plugin. It would scan each page of the site and provide suggestions in order to make the site more SEO friendly and easier to find for the general audience. It was a super useful tool, and something I’ve been considering downloading for my own site. While for me, my site has been wonderfully easy to run, I have not really done much to make it easily discoverable. As Sam Hollingworth outlines in his article “15 Reasons Why Your Business Absolutely Needs SEO“, there are numerous benefits to using SEO for your site.
Some of the reasons outlined in Hollingworth’s article I already knew, such as the idea that SEO can help make your site more discoverable through organic searches by an audience. What I was not necessarily aware of was how SEO can provide information on audience preferences, which is something that I believe would be well worth knowing if I want to keep this blog going in the future.
This week, I decided I wanted to try something a little different than my usual recipes, and give a shot at a remix of an Indian classic. Chai is a staple in every Indian and South Asian household, and is commonly served with an assortment of sweet or savoury goodies to keep your guests entertained. It stands to reason then, that combining the flavours of chai with a cookie would result in the most perfect and delicious fall treat!
For the majority of this recipe, I used this recipe from Ginny over at In Bloom Bakery! It’s one that my sister has used before to great success, though I wanted to try and tweak it to see if I could recreate the flavours of chai that I love so much. For the spices, I cut back on the amount cinnamon significantly in comparison to the original recipe, using about 2 teaspoons instead of an entire tablespoon and a half. I also increased the amount of all the other spices, leaning a little more heavily on the cardamom since that’s the flavour I prefer to taste most prominently in my chai.
I was super happy with how they turned out for the most part, they’re absolutely delicious cookies with crisp edges and a soft pillowy interior, but there was something missing in the flavour profile that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It wasn’t until I pulled them out of the oven that I realized there was no flavour of real tea in them! Next time I make them, I think that I will substitute out one of the egg yolks in favour of a couple tablespoons of strongly brewed orange pekoe tea to see if I can impart a little more of that chai flavour.
The longer I run this blog, the more I’m starting to notice how the things that tend to draw me in are quite different from the things that might draw in my audience. For example, when logging onto my blog the first thing that I tend to gravitate towards are the recipes. As someone who loves cooking, my eyes immediately go to that section and the images that accompany each of the posts are a big draw for me. However, based on the Google Analytics installed on my site, it was really interesting to see that the section that is most viewed are my Process Posts. Technically it does make sense, given that a large quantity of my audience are peers from this class and the Process Post section will be most helpful as a guide to help them complete their own works. Still, seeing the contrast was really interesting.
Even more than that, what I’ve been incredibly intrigued by is just how much of our day to day actions can be tracked. Our society is so reliant on computers and modern day technology that we don’t even realize when we’re using them half of the time. For example when I go to the coffee shop on my way to class and pay for my drink and little treat, I don’t think about being tracked. However, even the simple act of paying with my credit card is me giving data about my location and tastes to the bank that the card is connected to and the store. I also take the bus every Tuesday to get to class rather than taking the long drive to campus, and me using my Compass card offers up data about my route, my habits, and my status as a student to the transit authority. It’s crazy to think about how much of my thoughtless acts are able to be tracked!
On one hand, I don’t like the idea that I’m being surveyed all the time. While I’m not the most interesting person in the world and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to track my data, there are some things that I would prefer to keep to myself. On the other hand, as someone with an interest in true crime, I can’t help but think about the potential to locate either missing persons or suspects using this kind of technology, and how many crimes in the past might have been solved had it been available. Just some food for thought!
As we move further and further into the 21st century, much of the social connection we make has become increasingly concentrated into online forums and social media. The internet’s unique ability to transcend both time and space across the globe has allowed for a new postmodern era of networked communication, which in turn created an entirely new realm of experiences. Now more than ever, people are being exposed to belief systems, cultures and moral codes that they likely would not have otherwise experienced. In such a vast amalgamation of perspectives, it is easy for people to declare their own personal beliefs as being morally superior or “correct” in comparison to others. While debate and contrasting opinions are core elements of democracy, it is important to consider whether the algorithm based platforms of social media are the best conduit for nuanced discussions of politics and social justice issues.
Unlike any form of content that has been readily available to the general public, social media platforms rely heavily on the use of algorithms in order to tailor the content displayed to the user’s particular taste. In the simplest of terms, algorithms function by collecting user data and finding patterns in behavior in order to suggest content that will better help the users replicate the same patterns over and over again. By interacting with posts, the user creates instructions, which the algorithm then follows to create a curated feed (Hickman). For example a person more prone to commenting on posts aligning with liberal or left wing belief systems will be more likely to see similar kinds of posts, while those who subscribe to right wing ideology will be subject to more content that align with their personal beliefs. What this leads to in the grand scheme of social media are large concentrations of a singular belief system in a person’s social media feed. Rather than allowing for an exploration into belief systems outside of one’s own, curated feeds create a sort of echo chamber in which the same beliefs are repeated back upon themselves and warped into increasingly controversial opinions (Wojcieszak and Muntz). In this case, rather than promoting democratic debate and the authentic development of political beliefs, social media exacerbates preexisting beliefs and provides validation for all sides of the political spectrum depending on the content a user engages in.
Furthermore, on the basis of authentic development of politics and social justice ideals, the inherently consumer based formatting of social media often does not lend itself to genuine creations of beliefs. Because social media content that gains traction is able to be monetized, and algorithms share the content that is most engaged with, it stands to reason that people will create content that will best cater to what appeals to their audience to gain traction with algorithms in order to turn a profit. With the political spectrum leaning further and further left, it stands to reason that content creators will mimic these trends in order to gain a following regardless of the beliefs that they hold personally. Jonathan Haidt and Tobias Rose-Stockwell employ the term “moral grandstanding” in their Atlantic article to emphasize the phenomenon of using political beliefs to garner increased validation and engagement from an audience (Haidt and Rose-Stockwell). In the process, important facets such as nuance, compassion and understanding of opposing beliefs are lost in favor of sparking outrage and drawing attention. Another term commonly used to describe the co-opting of political causes in order to gain a moral high ground and a successful platform is performative activism. The most widespread example of performative activism came following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police officers. In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, many celebrities, influencers, and social media users alike participated in “Blackout Tuesday” where the only social media content that was supposed to be posted was a single black square in order to better amplify the voices of Black protestors. The simplicity of the movement allowed people to do the bare minimum and still gain the moral standing of “supporting” a cause. This encapsulates how performative activists use social media as a means to perform allyship with little real substantial good. Any real benefit from the Blackout Tuesday event were donations made to established Black Lives Matter organizations. (Thimsen). The deep inauthenticity and self interest that come along with performative activism and moral grandstanding encapsulate exactly why social media does not provide the adequate foundation to accomplish democratic change.
There are a multitude of benefits that come with social media, including connection, education, entertainment, and exposure to other cultures. However, the very structure of social media stemming from algorithm organized feeds and engagement based monetized platforms do not provide adequate discussion and contrast of differing authentic ideas for true democracy to properly develop.
Haidt, Johnathan, and Tobias Rose-Stockwell. “The Dark Psychology of Social Networks.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 3 May 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/12/social-media-democracy/600763/.
Hickman, Leo. “How Algorithms Rule the World.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 1 July 2013, https://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/jul/01/how-algorithms-rule-world-nsa.
Wojcieszak, Magdalena E., and Diana C. Muntz. “Online Groups and Political Discourse: Do Online Discussion Spaces Facilitate Exposure to Political Disagreement?” Journal of Communication , vol. 59, no. 1, 26 Mar. 2009, pp. 40–56., https://doi.org/https://doi-org.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2008.01403.x.
Over the course of the past month I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with TikTok. Yes, I too was one of those people who swore they would NEVER EVER get TikTok, but as a Communications major and full-time creative I eventually dove headfirst down the rabbit hole and for anyone who has TikTok you know exactly what I mean.
I first downloaded the app in early January of this year. At first I didn’t really understand it, but after posting my first video doing the ‘Wasian check’ (a trend to show off those of mixed race) and catching the attention of over 500 viewers in the matter of a couple hours made me understand how powerful this app really was.
As some of you already know, it’s always been my dream to entertain others through YouTube videos and that’s honestly why I’m even here writing to you in the form of a blog. After scrolling through TikTok and watching 15-60 second videos that had acquired hundreds of thousands of views, likes and comments in the matter of hours I was slightly annoyed. I started comparing YouTube to TikTok and asking myself why the algorithm preferred me on an app that I didn’t even want to use.
When it comes to YouTube, I find myself working around the clock to create content on the platform every week. First, you have to develop a concept, then film the content, edit the content, and lastly, promote the content on all of your social platforms to ensure it gets as much exposure as it possibly can. Since I started posting videos in September, I haven’t gained that much traction. My most viewed video is of me doing a bikini photoshoot in the snow (which got flagged, and is now ranked as 18+ content on the platform) which doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. As much as I love YouTube, I’ve found it an incredibly difficult process to get my videos viewed no matter how many times I share them on my other social platforms.
I’ve found myself questioning if this is really what I want to do with my life. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE YouTube and it’s always been my dream but when I’m scrolling through TikTok and see a video of someone pouring glitter into a can of paint and getting over 2 Million likes, sometimes it’s hard to keep pushing forward, especially as I get older. So, I decided to expand my brand by logging onto TikTok and posting content on the app as an experiment and to say that my short time on the platform has been like a rollercoaster ride is an understatement.
From late January to late March I had been posting random videos on TikTok, since I don’t have a specific niche or type of content I create specifically for that app I decided to just post a bunch of different content. I hopped on a couple of trends, posted some content from some of my creative shoots, and even did a couple of dancing videos.
I posted a video on March 14th of me and one of my closest friends, Gary Mo doing a trend that failed. But to my surprise, that was my most liked and viewed video that I had posted- gaining the attention of over 2000 people.
I experimented further and thought I’d start doing a series of “forcing my brother to do TikTok’s” which would just be me dressed as a boy. I found that the videos weren’t gaining much traction, they were funny, don’t get me wrong, but they still weren’t catching the attention of others.
The very last test I did was a cooking video. I cut together clips showing how to make ‘Healthy Fudgy Avocado Brownies.’ Again, the video didn’t do well, only catching the attention of about 500 people.
At this point I wasn’t sure what kind of content I wanted to pursue on TikTok, I didn’t feel super inspired with what I was producing up to this point, as most of the content I was posting was testing to see what content would do the best on the platform.
On April 8th, I went out to an island with my brother and his girlfriend for the afternoon. I decided that I would film a couple of TikTok’s on the beach and see how they fared. And just like that, I posted a video at 4:40 pm that day and by the time I had checked in that night the video had over 10,000 views. When I woke up the next morning, the video had over 15,000 views, I didn’t think it would continue to grow but to my surprise, it did. Exponentially increasing, the video shot to over 100,000 views in the matter of days, now resting at 162.8K. From that video alone, I gained over 1,100 followers on the app in just two days.
I’ll be honest when I say that I was completely riding on a high after that point. On April 10th I spent seven hours in my bedroom filming different TikTok’s which haven’t done nearly as well as my first big video. I’m not going to lie to you, I felt defeated. This is what happens when you care more about your views than your content. Don’t get me wrong, I was working hard to produce content for my new audience, but I was doing it primarily for the exposure I was getting, not because I wanted to. After posting a couple of hard hitting videos on TikTok, I saw my Instagram following skyrocket, as well gaining more traction on YouTube.
I didn’t know this when I first started using the app, but TikTok doesn’t allow creators to message each other unless they’re directly following each other. So as I gained more followers on TikTok, they would look at my bio and click the link that brought them to my Instagram page in order to get in contact with me. And at that point, I realized that if that many people were actively searching for more of my content on other platforms then TikTok was ultimately the best way to grow my brand.
However, I got a little ahead of myself. After doing more research on the app, I found that the videos of people dancing get quite a lot of traction so just like that every night I was forcing myself to learn anywhere between 5-10 viral dances. Mind you, I’m NOT a dancer, I took a couple of classes when I was a kid, but it never went any further than that. I don’t feel creative copying others, but at the time I didn’t care. I was hungry for the exposure and likes, it took me three months to raise my Instagram following from 2,000 followers to 3,000, but in just three short weeks of using TikTok, my Instagram following went from 3,000 followers to 4,000.
But here’s where the story comes to a screeching halt.
I started experiencing every TikToker’s fear of shadowbanning. Unfortunately, TikTok is well known for filtering out content from creators simply if they don’t like it. This means that less people see your videos, which means that you aren’t getting much or any exposure.
Although they have an extensive community guideline list, I wasn’t violating any of their terms. I was able to post videos on my account, but they weren’t getting any views which I thought was weird. Even if the videos didn’t land on the ‘For Your Page’ they would at least land on the pages of those who followed me. When the videos didn’t gain any views, I started deleting them and I began getting really frustrated. I made a second account as a backup and after looking at my main account, I realized that my content wasn’t showing up.
So not only were my videos not getting any views, but TikTok wasn’t even posting them to the public. And from here on out, it’s basically a downwards spiral.
Since then, I’ve had two videos removed as violations on their community guidelines, without any comments on why they were removed. I’ve found that there are days that they will let me post content and there are days where they won’t depending on what I’m wearing generally. Mind you, I’ve been fully clothed in every since video. Yes, I’ll admit there has been a lot of skin shown, but that isn’t a violation according to their guidelines.
So here I was, sweating my ass off every night practicing these dances (that I didn’t even like), taking hours out every couple of days to film the dances over and over again in different outfits, only to have them not be posted to the app. My account is still active and I post on it every couple of days, but what I’ve realized is that it’s extremely easy to get sucked into the number of views, likes and comments.
A lot of what I was posting didn’t even make me happy, but I was doing it for exposure for my other platforms. I still don’t know my niche for Tiktok, but I’ve relaxed a bit. I don’t force myself to post anymore, or make content for the platform every couple of days. I’ve realized that I don’t want to just be a one hit wonder, I want to be remembered for my content, which is a reflection of who I am when I create. When I was on TikTok I started feeling like a puppet, tiptoeing around what the algorithm allowed me to post. I also found that I started comparing myself to other creators and getting extremely competitive about the numbers my videos were raking in which isn’t like me at all.
I’ve learnt a lot using the app, but a lot still remains a complete mystery to me. I don’t want to use an app that makes me unhappy, so I took a break and got back to working on content for YouTube and I felt better. I always promote being one’s truest self online, and I realized that I was going completely against what I was saying because I got too wrapped up in what the app was doing for me. I started being really hard on myself when my views dropped on my other platforms and blaming myself for my lack of content on TikTok, I felt like my hands were tied as posting became harder with my shadowban.
To wrap this all up, I will definitely continue using TikTok. I think there is a way for me to use the app and still be an original creator, mixing in a couple of dances here and there because some of them were actually a lot of fun and if you’ve ever learnt a TikTok dance you know it’s some of the best cardio you’ll ever do.
It’s best not to count the likes, but rather post for yourself and not others.
Soooo, I’ve been absent for quite some time now! I told myself that I’d take some time off from my usual weekly posts to figure out the next couple of steps I’m going to take to continue to expand my brand but unfortunately, I’ve found that I’ve been continuously hitting dead ends.
I’ve been back on Vancouver Island for almost two months now, which is more time than I spent here in all of 2019. The last time I went to a photoshoot was on the 19th of March. I remember that shoot so well, I knew it was going to be my last one in the city for a while, but as I walked off into the sunset I was confident that I’d continue to be creative whether I was in Vancouver or not.
Fast Forward to now.
Am I still confident? I’ll be honest, it’s been tough adjusting to this new lifestyle but at the end of the day, I’m alive and healthy. For the past month I’ve been in a rut. I haven’t been productive at all and I seem to be constantly fighting with myself about what my next move is going to be.
I thought I was going to take this time to catch up on all the little details that came with building one’s brand but lately I’ve been waking up, showering and crawling back into bed binging ABC’s Modern Family.
As a creative, I feel as if it’s my job not only to myself but to others to continuously keep our spirits up- especially right now. But who’s there to lift me up when my spirits are down? Lately, I’ve found that every social media platform I’m on has become an extremely consuming place. The truth is, it’s always been extremely consuming, I just didn’t notice it as much when I had a busier schedule. My current reality is sulking in my robe (that I haven’t washed for three days) with a handful of chocolate approaching my mouth watching other people I know be creative. And the reason why I’m addressing these embarrassing new attributes of my life is because they scare me.
I’ve mentioned it before on my blog, but to rejog your memory… last summer I was at the lowest point I’d ever been in my life. I wasn’t going to school, I didn’t have a job, I didn’t have a purpose. Everyday I would wake up and then just go back to sleep because I didn’t feel motivated to even continue with the rest of the day. I spent about 7-9 hours on social media every day drowning myself in the lives of others while I failed to live my own. Day by day, it just got worse and I started feeling extremely stuck. At this point, I wasn’t doing YouTube, and I was only taking a few modelling gigs every couple months but I knew that if I didn’t change my ways then I would never be able to achieve my dream. I was ready to completely give up on creating content, I was letting everything knock me down to my knees, and I stopped fighting for myself.
But slowly things started to get better and the events that took place on two nights in particular turned my entire life around. After that point, I started living for myself and I haven’t looked back ever since. That was only last July, it hasn’t even been a full year and so many amazing things have happened to me in that short amount of time.
I haven’t had any thoughts about quitting creating, and I’m definitely not even close to the state I was in last year but laying in bed not being productive freaks me out. I need to keep busy in order to stay sane. Creating has always been a positive outlet for me and I’ve always wanted to use my creativity to help others. I’ve received a lot of DMs recently about people enjoying my YouTube videos, putting smiles on their faces and just giving them a laugh during this hard time. Messages like that continue to remind me why I do what I do.
Helping others is my passion and creating is my purpose. That’s why I create, when I’m down I watch my favourite creatives on YouTube and it always makes me feel better. Seeing people genuinely happy, living their best life is sometimes the greatest kind of medication. Real, everyday people living their dreams helps encourage even the most unmotivated people to do the same. I know that without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. And that’s why I feel like it’s my job to push myself to do the same for my audience.
“There are dreamers and there are realists in this world. You’d think the dreamers would find the dreamers and the realists would find the realists, but more often than not the opposite is true. You see, the dreamers need the realists to keep them from soaring too close to the sun. And the realists, well without the dreamers, they might not ever get off the ground.”
Cameron Tucker (Modern Family, season 3, episode 9)
This week, instead of writing to you from the comforts of my dimly lit dorm room, I’m coming to you from the confines of my childhood bedroom, only about 5.5 hours away with the Georgia Straight being the only thing separating us. Amidst this unique time, I’ve found that over the past week being adaptable is not only a huge part of our lives (yours and mine included) generally speaking, but equally huge part of being creative. To come full circle here, I need to jump through a few hoops and bounds so bare with me as I swear that I have a term worthy ending for you.
I’m currently enrolled in an upper division Communications course that focuses primarily on sound engineering, putting a critical lens on the history and relevance of podcasts in particular. When I first read the syllabus in January- which seems like a lifetime ago, I was well aware that I’d be handing in a 5-10 minute podcast as my term project worthy of a heavty 30% contribution to my final grade in the course.
About four weeks ago, my prof David decided (on the fly) that conducting an interview within our podcast was no longer optional, but mandatory. Given the time frame, this was prior to the University shutting down as the severity of COVID-19 ramped up. Within a week of his firm decision, five out of the thirty five of us attended our last in-person lecture and since then, all of us have been now working online to complete the course. Nearly two weeks ago now, David sent us an email to see how we were all doing on our projects. Upon opening the email, I assumed that he would be extremely lenient with our “mandatory interview” or even axxex it, but he didn’t. Instead, he wrote and I quote, “we need to be imaginative about how we respond to our situation.” With the world going into toilet paper bankruptcy, I thought that David would have been without-a-doubt more understanding of our situation. In hindsight he was, I just couldn’t see it yet.
All during this time period, I planned on staying at the SFU campus until my scheduled move out date (April 26th), and then moving to my grandparents house for the rest of the summer. However, like many things in life, that didn’t go to plan or even remotely so.
I found myself arguing back and forth with my parents on where I’d be staying and for how long, each phone call ending without an exchange of goodbyes, but with the sound of the call being cut in one of my ears. Ideally, this virus and other viral pandemics in the past have been an occurrence that I and many others have been lucky enough to have not yet experienced in their lifetime. I’m completely guilty of underestimating this virus. Like many others, I can’t comprehend what it means for the future, not just my future or your future, but the future of the human race. It sounds extreme when I type it out, but since COVID-19 is unlike any other past pandemic, nobody is really sure what tomorrow will bring. In my mind, it was easier to think about tomorrow being a better day, but with each tomorrow things actually haven’t been getting any better. Due to its increasing severity, my parents made the final decision to bring me home to Vancouver Island.
At the end of that phone call, my heart started rapidly beating as I saw the life I built for myself flash before my eyes. All I could think was, “How am I going to create from there?” As all of my photographers, videographers, hair and makeup artists, stylists, connections, networks, and brand deals are located in the city, I felt like I was nothing without them. Going back to the island felt like I was being exiled…banished…annexed from everything that I had built within the last year. BUT, at the same time I was having my little meltdown (trust me, I realize how ridiculous I was being), the ENTIRE population was experiencing the exact same feelings as I was.
As my mom and I drove down the mountain onto Hastings Street- which is my most well known street thanks to the R5, I had a crystal clear view of the city. Since I was a little kid, Vancouver has always held a special place in my heart. I visited lots as my grandparents live there, always having so many things to see and do whenever I wanted, it was so unlike living in a small town. Although it’s true about what they say, “the grass is always greener on the other side,” but it was undeniable that the city offered more opportunities than that of a small town. To this day, my eyes still widen in awe as I’m greeted by the city as it’s always been a place where I’ve dreamt of living. In that moment my heart started to tremble as I realized that living in Vancouver was the one thing I had never once taken for granted, and I believe that’s why leaving hurt so unbelievably bad. We drove and drove and drove as the signs passed us, it was as if every first memory I ever experienced at those places started flashing through my mind one by one. It really put things into perspective for me as to how much I’ve come to grow and love the life that I’ve built for myself out here. My heart started pounding a little less, and it made the hurt go away. I had to remind myself that it wasn’t a goodbye forever but merely a heartfelt, “see you when I see you.”
As my journey continued back to the westend of the coastline, I checked my phone notifications. I had about 15+ missed messages from my CMNS 357 group chat about our individual podcasts- the three of them were debating whether or not they should complete the final assignment. One of them said that they were willing to nix the assignment completely taking an overall pass with 60% (due to our circumstances, this was approved by SFU as a “P” grade) as we no longer had access to a professional sonic studio, the other one was saying that we should complete our podcast for David (as he’s our homie and has been extremely good to all of us), and the last one admitted that they were too lazy to even bother with the assignment.
As I read the incoming messages I realized that my theory about the island being the reason why I lose my creative touch was just about as backwards as my classmates debating our final assignment. After that, I stopped asking myself, “why…”
“Why didn’t David excuse the interview from our term project?”
“Why did COVID-19 have to banish me back to Vancouver Island and ruin my creative streak?”
…and I started asking myself what.
Specifically, what I was going to do, not only to produce a term-worthy podcast (with an interview) but to remind myself and my classmates that we as individuals were the only thing we needed to be creative.
In the very first lecture for this class, David said, “the podcast is one of the oldest acoustic artefacts to date, and yet still remains, and continues to grow in popularity.” He encouraged us to think outside of the box and told us that this virus was an even greater reason to go above and beyond, to show him that not only could we use the software, but we could use it in a way that told a story- a human like experience. And this is exactly the state of mind I have when I create, limits don’t exist, COVID-19 can’t and won’t stop me from being creative. Yes, It can take me out of Vancouver, it can take me away from the skyscrapers and the urban landscape, and it can take me away from my photographers, videographers, hair and makeup artists, stylists, connections, networks, and brand deals, but what it can’t do is take me away from being creative. I mean unless I actually am unfortunate enough to catch the virus… but for the purposes of this story, the only thing that can stop me from being creative is myself.
And then the aching stopped, and I realized how happy I was to be home, with my family, and most importantly in a safe space rather than being cooped up in my dorm room for the next however long.
Creating content out of the island is something I haven’t done before (at the level I’m currently producing content at now), but I’m willing to accept the challenge. As a creative you need to be adaptable, and since my brand is myself, it shouldn’t be too hard bringing that with me unless I stop myself.
I picked up my phone and began hastily typing back to classmates. I’m glad that I could not only get them to reconsider their assignment for David (he really is a homie), but more importantly, for themselves. We don’t need access to sonic studios to create term worthy podcasts, and I don’t need Vancouver to keep creating. Instead we need to focus on telling meaningful stories that encapsulate human-like experiences that relate with our listeners, which believe me can be done with all but the very devices we hold so dear. I hold every ability to create within the palm of my hand, and so do you.
As the days go by, I’m finding myself in a love-hate relationship with this self-isolation thing. On one hand, a part of me is frustrated that I’m being cooped up inside, forced to sit and relax and the other part of me is stoked that I finally get some time to catch up on the hundred and one things I’ve been putting off. I’m torn.
Prior to the world being taken over by COVID-19, I used to meet up with local photographers and creatives on a weekly basis, all while taking a full academic schedule, making time to hang out with my friends, making sure I went to the gym everyday and forcing myself to get a reasonable amount of sleep every night. I have to hand it to myself, for the first time I was actually balancing my life pretty well (the best I ever had), but now I worry that with all this free time on my hands I might not be as productive as I used to be. I’m a very scheduled person, I need tasks and directions to fully function because without those I find that I have no purpose. However, I’ve decided to look at this situation as optimistically as I possibly can.
A part of me is actually really excited to take some time off to teach myself the things that I never had time to do like, learning how to play the ukulele again or the piano, I want to get back into working on flair (practice of bartenders entertaining guests), but I also want to continue expanding my brand in the ways I never could. Primarily speaking, I want to direct my focus from Instagram and bring it towards building an audience on TikTok as well as YouTube. I also want to reach out to local brands based both in Tofino and Vancouver in order to collaborate with them in the near future. And lastly, I have massive plans for my blog! Since this has been a space that I originally built for school, I am actually quite interested in moulding it into my own little space as I’ve found some free time. Generally speaking, I’m thinking I want to redesign it entirely, keeping the same colour palette but adding more to the menu, like an advice column and content not just relating to modelling, photography and videography but rather to beauty, health and aesthetics.
I really want to take this time to reflect on all that I’ve done but at the same time continuing to stay positive and optimistic towards the future. Ideally, I’m really trying to focus on building a true fan base and increasing my viewership based on what I stand for rather than just what I create. My main goal is to start building a community of like-minded people who not only come to see what I create, but get inspired to create themselves.
Although I’m incredibly heartbroken that I’m no longer living in Vancouver for the time being, I’ve realized that the city didn’t give me all the tools I needed to create, I already had all the tools I needed to create, I just needed to figure that out for myself.
Even though it’s back to small town living for me, I promise you that I’m never going to forget my uptown dreams.
Recently, there has been a whole lot of controversy surrounding the topic of going outdoors and meeting up with friends as we’ve all been encouraged to socially distance ourselves. Up until this week, I’ve been shooting up to three times a week with different local photographers, however I’ve decided to switch up my fast paced lifestyle and start slowing it down. At first, I didn’t see much of an issue with shooting as I’m not in close contact with my photographers, but with the vast amount of time I spend on transit going to and from shoots, I decided to rethink my weekly shooting routine.
Since SFU got shut down on March Friday 13th (quite ironic if you’re the superstitious type), all of my creative projects have come to a screeching halt. As I’ve been focusing primarily on photo shoots in the past few weeks, I’ve decided that I will also be self-isolating and reverting back to working on videos as that’s something I’m able to do from the confines of my dorm room.
I walked into my last shoot on March 19th, on the SFU Burnaby campus (one of my favourite places to shoot!). I was shooting at golden hour with Nicolas Scott (@nicolasscott_), a photographer whom I’ve worked with on numerous occasions for his clothing line, Call the Girls Co, as well as our most recent Calvin Klein studio session. We kept our distance and shot as we normally would, but as we walked around the AQ pond, I felt a sense of emptiness wash over myself. The place was absolutely dead, so much so that you could hear the drop of a pin. Although it was my last scheduled shoot, without seeing other people around me, it really made me feel as if I shouldn’t be outside, or if I was doing something wrong even though Nic and I were far more than 2 meters apart at all times.
We wrapped up just after the sun had set on the top floor of the visitors parade. We said our goodbyes and I walked off into the milky sunset making my way back to Shell House. Although I was completely bummed out to be putting a stop to my modelling career, I tried to look at the positives of all of this- that I would be able to really start growing my brand and putting more work into marketing and management as well as producing YouTube and Tik Tok videos. Walking off into the beautiful blending of colours in the sky reminded me that now was the time to think outside of the box and really take this time to reflect and think about alternative methods to create.
This is not the end, rather it’s the beginning of a new form of creativity. I can’t wait to show you what I come up with!
I thought this Monday was going to be like every other Monday, but to my surprise, it didn’t. I woke up at 8:30 am, made my way to the bathroom and when I came back to my room, I got changed for the gym. I spent about an hour in there targeting my arms, and as I was taking a break from my lat pulldowns, I got a DM from a Disney Animator and aspiring Photographer named Marc (@marcrovich), whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with before. Like most messages I get in the morning, I ignore them until at least 9 am to make sure I’ve had enough time to wake up and spend some “me-minutes” with myself.
When I came home, I immediately showered and as I began to towel dry my hair, I opened up the messages. I would have never guessed what happened and neither could Marc.
A photo we had taken together in late January was published on the Vogue Italia website! I couldn’t believe it, even asking several times over and over again sounding like a broken record, it wasn’t a joke.
As I made my way to the bus station to head to an appointment in Surrey, not only did I miss the 145, but within minutes hot tears started streaming down my face and I can assure you that it wasn’t because I missed my bus. I’m not much of a cryer, but I still couldn’t believe the news. It was starting to seem as different doors were closing in my life, other doors were starting to magically open.
The next day, I went to lunch to catch up with a group of doom mates that I met in first year! Before I had even sat my butt down, they were shouting at me from across the way about the news. It was one of the most gratifying feelings in the world to celebrate and be celebrated by the first group of friends I made in University. They’ve seen me grow into exactly the person I’ve always wanted to become and they’ve supported me since the very beginning of me moving out here. It’s crazy to think of how many nights we spent on the 7th floor of the common room in Shadbolt House talking up until all hours of the night about where we saw ourselves three years down the road. At the time it was incomprehensible, but in current time we were all together celebrating who we were now. As we toasted to celebrate, I was so incredibly happy. Not just about the publication, but because I had people out there supporting me no matter what I decided to do. No matter how many changes I’ve undergone in the past three years, I’m still the same small town kid, but with the people I’ve met along the way, I’ve been able to build the life that I’d dreamt about three years ago in that common room.