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Friends not followers

by Varvara 4 months ago in art

Connecting through telling stories online

👋Hi, I’m Varvara,

I like to share, I like to connect, and I like to bring value.

I recently realized that I’ve been sharing stories of my life with my digital audience since adolescence. I connect with the world around me through these stories and it's been a source of great personal value for me. Now I want to give back and provide the value to those who come to connect with me online.

My digital storytelling is a thread that goes through all the life transitions, events, self-development, visible and invisible changes - I just keep writing a very personal journal that usually is hidden under a pillow, but I do it openly online. This approach is vulnerable and some consider risky but it keeps bringing my people around me and with many we become a part of each other's stories. We connect much deeper than just a like or follow.

On the rise of social media I came across the rule to choose one topic for your channel and build the audience around this topic. I guess I am a rule breaker… 'One focus for one audience' rule never worked for me, as a human being I change and I share this change with my audience which at this point I don’t even consider as an audience - this is my community.

It’s not large but it’s real people, we connect on a deeper emotional level. We change together, we grow together, we think together, we love together, we are sad together, we support, we grow kids, we move countries, we marry, we divorce, we marry again, we create, we develop and we elevate each other.

Because I have told my stories since high school, I grew up with some of those humans, and my kids grew up with them too! My “followers” witnessed:

  • the untraditional sea birth of my first child
  • me becoming a single mom
  • me working while being a single mom and getting my university degree
  • my journey working with circus as a costume designer
  • building my first fashion brand
  • my travel adventures with only my child
  • my immigration as a single mom to get my master’s degree and getting it while raising my baby in a new country
  • me falling in love online with my “new follower” from across the world
  • my online long-distance relationships, another immigration to become a 2 parents-family with that same “follower”
  • my transition from the social image of independent single mother to a new social status of a married housewife with pending residency status, my struggles to get through this official status and getting the documents and being accepted by the new country
  • the growth of our family with the new baby born in a traditional way this time
  • the development of my art projects with textiles
  • getting a degree remotely with the newborn
  • my postpartum depression and coming out on mental health issues, getting through anxiety with professional help
  • getting a job and building my design career from scratch in a new country, changing paths from design to coding while being true to my values and desire to bring socially good projects to live
  • the beginning of gender transition of my child
  • going through pandemic while keep growing and developing, raising kids, being in loving relationships, moving, and so much more…
  • My Instagram became an online journal with so many topics combined together: stories of getting degrees, of immigrations, of a single mother, of a married mother, of finding trust and love after divorce, of self-acceptance and growth, of gaining weight and losing weight, of finding strength for building healthy habits, building businesses, of successful but compelled 'housewifing' and homeschooling, of growing in design and fashion, winning competitions and awards, adding programming to the equation, of learning to plan long-term after so many changes in life and embracing this journey of self-development and reaching the goals while keeping the balance of family, self-care and work.

    How can I call people who have been with me through all these just “followers” or the audience? These are my friends! Online friends. We are connected deeply. Their supportive words online light me up in real life, their comments that my story helps to build theirs with more confidence means the world to me, our personal conversations in private are deep and meaningful. We make real life projects together, and we become friends in real life too. This community is my community of friends.

    And with this incredibly supportive community I shared my personal art project where I decided to process one of my most difficult transitions in life (so far) - my second immigration, from a single independent mom to a married housewife. In my bedroom I created a place for my art practice to put my feelings, thoughts, and events of the transition into the form of yarns and weave those stories into my personal canvas of processing change. I visualized my stories into threads and attached it to the canvas. It turned out to be a very emotional and beautiful journey, a therapeutic one.

    But the most incredible outcome of this personal art project was my online friends connecting to my story of immigration and sending their yarns with their stories to be attached to the canvas.

    When my canvas was full, I started a new one to weave together the stories I received.

    That’s how the collective canvas called Social Fabric of Migration was born.

    It was incredible to see how stories of people from around the world unfamiliar with each other, intersect, share similar struggles and emotions, how we miss similar things, how we find strength through the transition, how we evolve and process change, and how all these stories are weaved together in a co-created textile art piece.

    Sadly, it was only me and the finite number of people who attended physical exhibitions with those canvases that could read the stories and see the connections.

    My dream is to bring those stories online to make it accessible not only in physical form but so that it becomes less dependent on me and continues to live its life digitally, connecting people together.

    My even bigger dream is to create a platform where my community and their communities can create new canvases with their stories - this time in fully digital format. So that every member can see the connection to its bigger community, read each other's stories, build new connections, learn from each other, find and provide support. And together we will co-create these beautiful art pieces that can become a tool for giving back to the community.

    I’d tell you more but first I need to create this online platform where we can connect. Thank you for reading 💚




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