Whether it’s a celeb or your old college roommate, it’s easy to look at someone’s Instagram account and, scrolling through glamorous vacay photos, awesome behind-the-scenes pics of their cool jobs and snapshots of their dream wedding, get sucked into believing that their lives are perfect. Before you know it, you’re drawing comparisons between you + them and you fall into a spiral of feeling not so hot about yourself.
On paper, #girlboss Jen Gotch certainly seems to be living one of those glossy, perfect lives. She the founder and creative force behind the extremely cool lifestyle and accessories brand Ban.do, she’s going to be a speaker at our Re:Make conference in SF happening next weekend (get your tickets here!) and she’s extremely funny and self-deprecatingly charming to boot. And to make her even more relatable, she’s super honest about the struggles of being the Chief Creative Officer of a startup that’s seriously blowing up on social media. While there’s no need to spill your guts all over the Internet, sometimes honesty is the best policy on social media. Here are some reasons why, straight from Jen.
1. Being real on social media helps you strike a balance: While we know that oversharing on social media is a common issue, many of us respond by never revealing anything that’s less than perfect. Jen, however, believes there is a balance. “Something happened, maybe it’s getting older, a lot of that stuff just fell off. I don’t understand what’s weird or scary [about sharing],” Jen says. “I have such a nice, engaged audience I don’t have to deal with that much negativity on my personal social media account.” And finding that balance can be really powerful.
2. You can expand (and then reach out to) your support network: Sharing honestly on Instagram can be a huge boon for someone who has a safe network and needs support. “I think that it doesn’t feel like any kind of act of bravery on my part, because it just seems like, ‘Why not?'” Jen says. “To me it feels like a huge benefit both personally and potentially for the people on the receiving end of that.” That’s not to say you need to be wearing your heart on your sleeve. “The flip side of that are the people who are just like, ‘today sucks’ and that’s every day. I could do that too,” Jen says. “I posted a picture of myself crying the other day, but I’ve literally cried every day for the last seven days here at work. But I can’t do that every day cause that’s boring and one-sided too.”
3. Holding back now might hurt you later: Sometimes plastering on a smile when secretly something is really bugging you inside is like building a time bomb — eventually, it’s just going to just blow up in your face. Jen’s approach to social media is similar to her approach to life in general. “We’re growing pretty rapidly here [at Ban.do],” Jen tells us, “and I see that if you just don’t put things out on the table and rip the Band-Aid off in all aspects of life, you pay for it later.” It can be better to just grit your teeth and tell the truth — you might feel a little bit liberated too.
4. You can better inform others: It can be hard to remember when you’re looking at someone’s super polished online presence that they have struggles too. “I fall into that trap daily,” Jen says. “The one thing about social media is because so much of it is so curated and so precious and so protected,” she tells us. “I stopped seeing rom-coms a long time ago because it depressed the crap out of me, because I was just trying to measure my life against that and my romantic life doesn’t feel that way. I feel like there’s kind of a similarity where you’re just getting the best bits of everybody’s experience. It could really trick you into doing some stuff that’s not half as cool as it seems.”
5. You just might be able to inspire others… realistically: “The Internet made it possible for anybody to become a businessperson,” Jen says. “I’m a creative. I just had an idea of something I wanted to sell and my brother is a graphics designer and knew coding and he said, ‘I can make you a really simple site.’ If you didn’t have the luxury of having gone to business school or any experience, you might think it’s very easy. It’s not at all. It’s a nightmare in fact. There just happens to be a couple of very cool perks that keep you locked in,” Jen laughs. “Most of the time, I feel like, ‘I wanna tell people this so they don’t quit their jobs.'” But hey, if you go into it knowing exactly what sort of difficulties await, it just means you’re better-equipped to handle ’em.
6. You can actually use it for (gasp!) self-expression: Sometimes, being able to speak freely comes down to expressing yourself. “If I have a thought that’s kinda weird or controversial or upsetting or emotional, I think, ‘I should put that up,'” says Jen. “Because at least I can kind of inform Ban.do from that side, [for people] to say, ‘The person that’s driving it thinks like this.'” And being able to let your strange, beautiful and creative thoughts fly is a First Amendment right you should definitely take advantage of. “There are a lot of people who don’t want that because that’s not as safe,” Jen says, “but I’m just not interested in emulating what someone else is doing at their company. I feel like we should do what feels right for us in the moment. We’re going to try. I’m gonna try. Stay tuned.”
What do you think about Jen’s approach to social media? Tell us in the comments below!