July 1st. The day I moved to Baltimore. “Charm City”, as the locals call it.
August 4th. The day I found my precious (finally ripe) avocado on top of the fridge had been chewed up, and whatever it was, it didn’t even eat half of it. Disrespectful, I tell ya!
That was the day that our battle with Stan the Rat began.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen my #StanStatus posts on my stories. Stan the rat has taken over our lives for about 2 months now.
PRETTY GROSS, RIGHT?
A rat in my kitchen, where I (Joel) makes our food.
I’m VERY open on Instagram. I post stories of anything from the wedding I’m shooting that day, to the shots I’m shooting that night. So when I found out there was a rat living in my apartment and not paying rent, I was actually in a pickle with myself…..It was the first time I had ever thought “maybe I shouldn’t share about this?” After all, THIS WAS PRETTY GROSS. But of course, I ended up sharing videos of the scratching in our walls and the evidence that Stan had paid us a visit every night.
The “fun” part of the story started when I posted and asked for name suggestions for our rat-mate. After many people (and I mean MANY) suggested names, I picked Stan, because it seemed NYC-subway-rat-esque. After he had a name people got really into the saga. I would get dozens of DM’s saying “I follow your Stan situation and it’s my entertainment every day!”, or “I’ve never met you in person, but hopefully you get this Stan thing figured out soon!”. Initial inquiries from couples started including things like “your Stan stories are so funny, but I’m so sorry this is happening to you!”, and one of my brides even went out of her way to research leasing laws in Maryland to see if we could get out of our lease. Even when I wouldn’t post anything about Stan for a few days, people would message and text me to “make sure they didn’t miss any parts of the story”, HAHA!!!
This unfortunate saga made me realize something– people love realness. I’m sure we’ve heard it all before (and if you’re a business owner reading this, you’ve DEFINITELY heard it), but I know from personal experience it’s hard to figure out what “realness” means. I think it means something different for everyone, and I know not many people would share about a rat in their house……but for me personally, I LOVE connecting about normal-people things. I live for Instagram DM’s, and when I started sharing about our furry rat friend, other people started sharing with me about their similar situations! Did you know that if you leave a crock pot full of water out to soak overnight you might wake up to a drowning rat? Well….now you know…and now I know that people will share those kinds of personal stories after you share! It’s called self-disclosure, if you wanna get all “Communications Major” with it.
Having this rodent problem made me realize what my “brand” is. It isn’t succulents, pool floats, bright colors, and tropical things (I mean, it is, but that’s one small piece!). My brand is realness and funny stories and sharing parts of my life that have nothingggggg to do with the couples I photograph! My “brand” is more of a personal brand than a business brand, because I rarely market what people pay me to do. I’ll post a picture on Instagram once a week (twice if we’re lucky…), but I create stories every day, allllllll day, about the most random things! My stories get more attention than my posts do, and you can blame the algorithm if you want, but I like to attribute it to my misfortunes in life that are humorous to others.
I’m not saying if you have a rodent infestation in your house to share about it (but I actually want to know, if you do). I’m saying, what you post will attract certain people. ~~Your vibe attracts your tribe~~ My tribe is people who want to have conversations and love a good joke and don’t take life too seriously. I want to attract the people who will say “Oh no! You have a rat problem? My husband is a mortgage lawyer and this is what he said to do!”, not, “Oh….you have a rat problem….that is disgusting goodbye”.
I think this situation has brought me closer to my tribe and has allowed them to feel like they can get closer to me. Now instead of just going to happy hour with my couples, I can go to happy hour AND talk about this animal that intruded on my life! Which sounds terrible, but it’s actually really great bonding!
I hope this gives someone the inspiration to not feel like that have to fluff up their life on Instagram, because people will love you for YOU, rats and all!!!!