Must Be Mo

Arizona Lifestyle Blog

Candid Polaroid Project -- My Anti-Curated-Moments Movement

Mo CalderonComment
 
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Some backstory….

Last year, I spent about 6 months shooting, and posting to Instagram at the quality level and consistency of a professional, full-time “influencer.” While I’m proud of how great my content was, and while posing for dozens of photos constantly gave me incredible self-confidence, those 6 months just about ruined my mental health.

I started in December of 2017 and by June of 2018 I was completely spent. I can pinpoint the exact photo that marks the burnout. I posted it on June 8th of 2018. Up until this day I had been posting once a day, every day, like clockwork. I was spending hours on social media, commenting, liking, interacting to get organic likes on my photos up, and man were they up. I got 800-900 likes on a photo. Getting likes was like some sort of cerebral high for me.

Then, all of a sudden, I couldn’t take it anymore. The next photo I posted came a month later. And after that, three months. I dropped off the face of the Internet in the blink of an eye. I went through such a ridiculous internal struggle with myself — wanting to keep up the beautiful feed and facade I had built for myself. My perfectly curated life online. But, I also wished it away. I also wished I had never “gotten a taste” so to speak.

It took me a long time to work through my issues with this. I know it seems superficial. It is superficial. They say that there are studies out there proving that high social media usage is linked to higher levels of loneliness, low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. As someone who spent half a year living like an influencer, I can understand why.

The polaroid project…

When my sister came to visit for Thanksgiving last November, she told me about a friend of hers who had a polaroid camera. All their friend group knew that anytime they came over, the polaroid was free-for-all. The only rule was that it was to be used to capture real moments — nothing curated. No selfies. Candids.

He kept all polaroids, good or bad, and kept them in an album. Because of this, their friend group had documentation of their greatest, realest moments. Watching the sunrise at 5 a.m. after an all-nighter, staying in to drink on the couch and watch movies under tons of blankets.

They sounded like the kind of pictures I wanted.

I had an old Instax Mini camera from my college days still, so I started documenting. I adopted the same rules. My friend group quickly jumped on board. I ended up asking for a new instant camera for my birthday — the Instax Square — and I’ve been snapping as many photos as I can remember to take ever since.

I ecstatic that my photo collection is growing and our friends love coming over and looking back on our memories. Even though it’s only been 5 months’ worth.

Before and After…

There is such a stark contrast between my life and my photos during those 6 months I spent carefully curating everything and the photos I have from these past 5 months of trying to be as true-to-the-moment as possible. It’s not just about the way the photos look, but the feelings that they invoke.

These polaroids are the pictures I’ve been wanting. These polaroids make me feel some type of way. I hope that in the future I don’t ever abandon this hobby. I hope when I am old and gray I am drowning in polaroids, in total bliss.

I think I am going to start sharing some of them soon, with their back stories.

Mo

 

Weathering the Storm and Coming Full Circle

Mo CalderonComment
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I want to be nobody.

The image of me floating across the all of space,

untouched.

Safe.

I want to be nobody,

So that there can be no words that harm me,

Only words that touch me.

I am happy as nobody.

- mo calderon


I have decided to un-publish all of my old blog posts that were written “influencer-style.” My blog must look strangely empty now.

“I am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

This is a [slightly] modified quote from author Augustin Burroughs that I have tattooed onto me permanently as a reminder. I have never been perfect and I will never be perfect, but I have good intentions. I am hyper aware of every wrong or pseudo-wrong I have done in my life but I try to move forward from them despite my brain’s sometimes overwhelming need to replay them over again times a hundred.

It has been 10 months since I started going through this weird identity crisis and it has been a long journey getting here. I feel normal and I feel happy.

It’s taking me a minute but in the last 10 months I have:

  • Unfollowed influencers on social media and continue to unfollow anyone I begin to toxically compare myself to.

  • Spend minutes per day on Instagram instead of hours

  • Write for the purpose of the words I share now. Not for an excuse to share a pretty picture.

  • Spend less time taking digital photos of myself and more time taking film photos of my friends and our memories.

  • Took pleasure in being “normal” and appreciate my life as is rather than be envious of the glamorous influencer life.

It has been the best thing I have ever done for my mental health. I have struggled for years with my relationship with being a YouTube and a blogger and wanting to become an influencer, I think mostly because it has been a part of my life for so long (I started my firsts YouTube channel 10 years ago now) that I had a hard time letting it go. But I'm here now.



💭 Mo

I Used To Be A Blogger

Mo CalderonComment
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I have a lot of thoughts right now.

I feel like a broken record. But maybe that’s because I’ve been going back and forth on this for a long time and talking about it on social media for months now.

I don’t want to be a blogger anymore.

There. I said it.

At least, not in the traditional sense. Clearly I’m here aren’t I? I’m writing, you’re reading—this is blogging. But even now looking at the first few posts I’ve done on this blog it just feels so fake and so not me. That’s why you haven’t heard from me in a while. I needed to step back.

My life lately has been revolving around work, and when I come home, I do nothing. It’s absolutely wonderful. I’ve been spending less time on social media (albeit, the same amount of time taking selfies. Sue me.) and at work the other day I told one of my coworkers “I used to be a blogger.”

Somehow, pitting it all in past-tense like that was so liberating.

My friends from Phoenix, Thania and Jose, came to visit this past weekend for the Gem Show and we spent a lot of time talking about being a content creator. We talked a lot about finding that balance between keeping it real and authentic while also “playing the game” because otherwise your shit just does not get seen.

I’m still trying to figure out where I stand with all of it.

I know, it’s been freaking months of me “trying to figure it out.”

I’m just not who I used to be anymore. Or maybe I’m not who I used to pretend to be. I feel like the older I get, the less and the more I know about myself at the same time. All I know is I’m much happier not sharing as much of myself online anymore, and I’m happier (at the moment) not making videos for my channel, and only writing blog posts when I want to.

This blog post feels really good. I don’t think I’ll be writing like my other posts for a while. Maybe I’ll stick to this style.

Ttyl,

Mo

My Relationship With Blogging

PersonalMo CalderonComment

I’ve been on the internet for years. I know the content creation world like an old friend who I’m constantly losing touch with then catching up and getting close with again.

I had my first “blog” in middle school and it’s been a long journey getting to where I am now. I feel like in order to understand my story and relationship with content creation, you really have to go back to the start of it all and follow the timeline.

Must Be Mo taking a break from exploring Portland to read in the park.

Timeline

2004 — Middle School Mo starts here first blog on Xanga (anyone remember that?!) It was a diary-style blog documenting my angsty pre-teen life.

2009 — Freshman year of college. After not blogging all of high school, I start a new beauty blog on Blogger after being inspired by my sister’s beauty blog and all the free products she gets sent.

2010 (January) — After spending my entire freshman year of college watching endless YouTube videos and discovering the wizard rock and nerdfighter fandom on YT, I decide to start the new year off by starting YouTube channel. I switch focus completely to YouTube and share a channel with my best friend, AJ.

2010 (September) — Months later, I start missing my beauty blog. I start a second channel, focused entirely on beauty. This is right around the initial rise of huge YouTube influencers.

2010 (December) — AJ and I have pretty much stopped posting to our joint-channel. While she’s not super interested in YouTube anymore, I decide to start my own lifestyle channel and continue on. This is during what I call YouTube’s “ukulele era.”

2011 (August) — I started another YouTube channel after going through a “rebrand.” This is the YouTube channel I still use now to this day (although it’s gone through multiple rebrands since)

2013 (April) — I start a new blog on Weebly after being inspired by countless travel blogs and food blogs I’ve been reading. I start posting about recipes, my life, beauty, and books. I slowly begin switching my focus back to blogging

2014 (March) — I decide to take all my content from my Weebly blog and move to Blogspot so that I can take blogging more seriously. I switch my focus almost entirely to blogging and begin posting multiple times a week.

2015-2017 — I go back and forth between blogging and YouTube. I see a huge jump in growth for the first time and start really trying to push growing my channel, blog, and Instagram but I can never stay consistent enough.

2018 — Around August of this year, I kind of stopped doing YouTube and blogging. I felt really burnt out and all-around disgusted by the fake, superficial world it’s become. I decided to quit blogging and YouTube. I shut down my old blogspot blog and stop posting to my channel.

PRESENT DAY — It’s now November and I’ve “quit” content creation for a whole 3 months before I came crawling back. I’m back, but ready for a change.

Reflecting on my journey

I know that there are parts of the blogging, vlogging, and content creation world that is fake and superficial. I know that there are influencers out there who are entitled and think that their status as a blogger makes them better than. But, I also know that there are good bloggers out there. Bloggers who genuinely love sharing content that helps others.

I feel like recently blogging has become all about landing sponsorships and gaining revenue and fame for people. I quit blogging for a while because I saw myself falling into that same trap and I was so disgusted with myself.

During my hiatus, I was listening to a Podcast that featured a Beauty Blogger that I used to watch on YouTube in my college days. Emily Noel is a YouTuber who now has over a million subscribers. She’s best known for NEVER having done a brand deal in her entire YouTube career. She has never done a sponsored video and featured a sponsored product because she wants to ensure that all of her views know her content is authentic and 100% truthful. She’s also a former journalist and as I J-school kid I love that!

I hope that on my newest blogging journey I can stay down to Earth like her.

I’ve been fiddling around with the idea of taking that same stance from here on out. I haven’t made any formal decisions but I feel like money is what changes people in this game. This time around, I want to blog for me. Not for fame. Not for money. Not for status or for anyone else. I want it to be only because I feel like sharing and I want to help others. And I think making the decision to refuse any sponsorships or brand deals might help.

I’m still playing around with the idea, but I’m very highly interested in it.

I want to just make content, and assume that I’m never going to “make it big.” I don’t want to strive towards that goal anymore. I’ve been there, done that and it ruins people. I want to blog and be happy doing it even if nothing big ever happens for me. That way, if it does, it’ll just be a cherry on top.

ttyl,
Mo