Various influencers have displayed noteworthy resilience in their presence on social media for years. However, over the last year specifically, these numbers have drastically increased as social media has become a sunshine in the rain of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Psychology Today, there are 7 skills of resilience to enhance well-being for those troubled by the global pandemic.
One person in particular that has demonstrated such skills is Harley West, an Instagram model that rose to influencer success with remarkable resilience during these challenging times. “It wasn’t until I lost my job that I had considered it [becoming an influencer],” she says. West started uploading daily on her Instagram and incentivizing her fans to join the exclusive website linked in her profile.
Emphasizing resilience refers to the ability to tolerate adversity and overcome challenging life events, says West, going on to say, “I was struggling financially and emotionally during COVID-19, like a lot of people. My modeling and fans are what got me through it.” The model says she used self-expression in terms of photography on her social media platforms to overcome the hardships faced by the global pandemic.
“Social media can make it look like influencers and models know what they are doing 100% of the time. But we don’t. We just don’t. But the ones who succeed are the ones who keep trying,” she says. Harley West emphasizes that trying, rather than giving up when things are hard, is what will lead to ultimate success.
The Instagram star goes on to say, “That’s the scary part about modeling and why social media changed the industry. Before you had to work in a studio with professional lighting and people you didn’t know you could trust. Now you can get a ring light and use your phone to express yourself.” In several instances, West says she had to overcome feelings of discomfort in the modeling industry.
“Nobody knew who I was before I started. I was a bartender who played on Instagram for fun like everybody else,” she says. The influencer is spreading the message that you have to put yourself out there and avoid the fear of judgment.
“I do my best to focus on the positive, but it can be discouraging when people mock you. Especially when you put yourself out there and try new things,” she says. The important factor is focusing on the positive to look past people that bring others down, West says.
“A lot of people want to take advantage of you in this space, so do your research and trust your gut always,” she says. Overcoming this challenge can be difficult but not impossible, she says, advising other aspiring influencers to do their research and bring family or friends into collaborations.
West goes on to say, “People want to see you having fun and being yourself. No photoshop, a million lights, and staged backgrounds. They want to connect with a real person.”
She says she believes in resilience and values self-love by staying true to herself. She says she often struggles with comparing herself to others but understands that what matters most is being her completely authentic self.
Though the modeling industry may have its challenges, they can all certainly be overcome with the right mindset. For those looking to make it big on social media, Harley West’s advice is to, “Focus on what you can control.” She says that was the best piece of advice she’s received during her experience as an online model.
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting the Village Voice and our advertisers.