Instagram informed me this morning that it has been 1 year since I posted my first picture on @skirtsandkicks. Which probably comes as a surprise to most followers, because the Instagram/blog probably feels much newer than that to most of you. But if you’ve been following along closely, you’ll know that before the Instagram/blog became a place for young, Jewish professionals to share about their own dating lives and lives in general, it was actually a place where I started posting a lot about my own dating life. But even before that, the Instagram/blog was nothing but an Instagram account. A place where I jokingly posted pictures of, yup-you guessed it-skirts and kicks. Not serious enough to be called a fashion influencer page, not enough followers to be called an influencer period, the Instagram page, was basically just an outlet for me to post poor quality pictures with self deprecating captions and dope kicks. It was fun. It was a place for me to be creative. That was it. Plain and simple.
And then in February, when I decided I wanted a way to share my writing more publicly, it felt natural to link the blog with this already made Instagram account. Why think of a new name and create a new social page when I had already started one? So I started the blog, which is also when most of you started realizing that the @skirtsandkicks Instagram page existed.
But what started as a joke Instagram, and then became a personal blog about sneakers and life and dates, has quickly become a blog hyper focused on dating and Judaism; on what it means to feel like you’re part of a community of like minded people, and what it’s like to feel completely alone. Because as soon as I started posting, people gravitated towards the dating content more than the sneaker content. It’s just what my peers related to. And so, I shifted the blog to cater to the followers. So the pictures of daily outfits and kicks, which mostly started somewhat as a joke, an outlet of sorts, has become an odd homage to the blog that once was, that hovers in the background of the blog that now is.
Sometimes when I look at the evolution of the blog, I wonder what I would have called it had I known it would’ve taken on the life it’s taken. But I honestly have no idea. But for the many new followers who are wondering why it’s called @skirtsandkicks…well…the above is why.
And for the many new (and old) followers who are often confused and wondering what this blog actually is about, well, if I’m being completely honest, I don’t always know myself. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that it’s always changing. In many ways I’m letting it grow into whatever I think the followers need and want it to be.
But here’s what I do know:
The Instagram is not the same Instagram I started last August, and the blog is not the same blog I started in February. And both of those things are good things.
The Instagram and blog are both constantly evolving. What started as my Instagram, has quickly become our Instagram. I say “our,” because I feel very strongly that I share the platform with my followers. Yes-I moderate the conversations, and I am in control of what gets posted on the stories. But the topics and the comments; most, if not all, now come from followers.
I also know that even the blog, although it is written by me and reflects my opinions, it also often captures the opinions that I see popping up on the Instagram.
Another thing I know is that as the Instagram/blog has become much less about my own life, it has become much more about the s&k community’s shared experiences of dating and navigating relationships, and the nuances and complexities that being Jewish adds to those experiences. And because of that, some days the blog is about loneliness, some days it’s about anxiety, others it’s about hope or love or lust or desire. Some days I wake up and think it will be bout one thing, and it ends up being about something completely different. Because, well, I can’t control the direction of conversations and I can’t control how people feel or react. And that’s what makes this community and this Instagram/ blog so cool but also kind of scary. The blog has become less mine and more everyone else’s and as it grows, I wonder a lot more about the impact I am having on others. Because as much as there are things that I know about the blog, there are a million things I don’t know.
As the moderator of the blog, I struggle a lot with finding the balance between knowing when topics and conversations are helpful to people, and when people are engaging because it’s voyeuristic. I find that I am constantly checking myself- and questioning- what’s the benefit of this question or this poll? Will it alienate people? Does it matter if it’s alienating? Is it worth it? Are people engaged with the content because it’s helpful or because there’s an element of gossip that fascinates them? It’s complicated on numerous levels.
For one, the Instagram is not anonymous to me in the same way it is anonymous to everyone else. I see everyone’s answers. Of course, as I’ve mentioned numerous times, I do not share what people share with me with anyone. You can ask my best friend, my mom, the guy I’m dating….none of them know who that last post was from. People often ask me if it’s weird to know so many people’s secrets. “You’re like gossip girl”, they tell me. And that’s when I get uncomfortable. That’s when the blog feels like it’s missing the mark. Because yes, people share a lot with me. And I am often surprised by how much people are willing to share. But the blog and the Instagram and polls don’t feel like gossip to me. And I think if they did, the entire platform would fail. I don’t say this in way that’s asking for your praise, rather by way of explanation. I’m not collecting juicy details. Sure, my 14 year old self would’ve been ecstatic to know who was and wasn’t actually shomer negiah. But at 27, the information is much less exciting. It’s actually not exciting at all. I think more about the implications of the answers to polls and people’s responses, than I do about who actually says what. And I think that as soon as the blog becomes a place of “gossip”-well that’s when I’ll know the blog is failing. Because that is what the blog is not. The blog is not gossip.
And choosing topics and questions; well-I don’t know that I always get it right. Sometimes people pitch a question that I think won’t go over well, and it does, and other times a question or comment causes much more of a stir than I anticipated it would, and my phone starts blowing up with notification after notification, and instantly I know, we hit a nerve. And my stomach turns, and I start to wonder, did I mess up? How many people did I offend? When is it time for me to jump in and shut this down? Does this need to be shut down? Did I cause more harm than good? There are topics and questions that have been pitched that I am reluctant to post, and who knows if I’m making the right call? So I just wait them out and see, because I don’t know what else to do.
But it’s all part of the learning curve. This Instagram/blog–it has been nothing short of a giant learning experience; about myself and my own relationships, about my followers and my peers and about a whole lot of different people and communities. But mostly it’s teaching me about the power of loneliness and the desire for connection. It’s been super rewarding and insanely terrifying, and I am extremely proud of and grateful for what it has become. But that doesn’t mean I don’t wake up every morning and wonder if I’m making mistakes. Trust me, this side of the blog might look exciting, but it is one heavy place to be. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Because for now, I think, whatever this blog “is” or “isn’t”–I think it’s working. I hope it’s working. I guess you can tell me if it’s not- because the most I can do is keep checking myself. So it helps if you check me too :).
But along with all of the things that I know and that I don’t know, there are the things that I hope about the blog.
I hope that it gives people an outlet to connect to other people who are experiencing/ have experienced similar things. I hope that it will be validating for people. I hope that it is thought provoking. I hope that is educational. I hope that it starts conversations that people might not be having. I hope it makes people uncomfortable, but not alienated. I hope it makes people think differently about things. I hope it makes people more sensitive and compassionate. I hope that it makes people less judgmental and more understanding. I hope it allows people to become more vulnerable. I hope that it’s interesting! (I know…I have big dreams :)…but hey, if you’ve ever written anything in your life-you’ll know that these are things that writers dream about).
And so, I guess this is just one long reflection on a year since that first picture in those white and orange Vapormax Plus’ from Kith, and 6 months since the website went up.
See you on the ‘gram.