go viral on yourself

There’s been a lot of talk at home over the last two weeks about “going viral.” Like, how does it happen? How do you maintain it? And most importantly, how do you guarantee that it happens again?

I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of you out there have recently seen a video of a barn cat playing with a baby miniature horse. Currently, it has at least 8 million views and has resulted in an upsurge of 32,000+ likes on a small Tennessee horse farm’s Facebook page.

That small farm is ours – or rather, my future family’s. It’s the place where I live. The business has existed since the ’80s, and it has always done well, but never received much recognition outside of the dwindling Tennessee Walking Horse industry. It’s an inspiring business built on passion – the kind of place that doesn’t need to go viral to be validated. More often than not, horses stay on the property when their owners don’t have the space, time, or resources to care for them at home. And one of those horses happened to be a miniature pony that gave birth to this tiny, fast-paced, goat-sized creature a few weeks ago.

Since the video was posted online, licensing companies have reached out, news channels throughout the country have featured it on their morning and evening programs, and comments have been made in French, German, and probably a slew of other languages that I haven’t even seen because I can’t even wrap my head around the long stream of messages going in and out. My mom’s hairstylist in Ohio has two other customers who told her about it.

It’s a strange phenomenon.

The video has gone viral. While we know the instantaneous popularity is fleeting, all we can hope is that some lasting impact was made on the business that brings in a few more customers.

But now, the obsession has become, What Next? And while it’s easy to scoff at, knowing that these things only come around once or twice in a lifetime (if ever), I realize that – whether we talk about it incessantly or not – aren’t we all just waiting to go viral? Aren’t we all waiting on someone – hopefully millions of someones – to give us some validation? To tell us we’re doing it right? To ensure our legacy?

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want this blog to be something “great.” Every once in a while, my views will surge and I think, This is it. This is what changes it. Just one more post and my voice will be heard. And usually, it’s that next post that tanks the hardest. In fact, it feels like an even greater failure simply because it doesn’t measure up to its predecessor.

This world is fast-paced and competitive. It’s exhausting. Something that lights up eight million pairs of eyes for a week or two will soon be forgotten. And trying to capture that magic once again feels like a futile effort.

It’s just like the journey towards the self-love/self-help movements. It’s why the wellness trend has persisted in its many variances over decades. We hope. We try. We try again. Because we believe. We believe we have something good to offer, something worthy to share, something that might connect us for a minute and thirty seconds.

The problem lies in placing too much value on this external validation. We see our friends “go viral” and we want it, too. But maybe it doesn’t happen for us. Maybe it’s not really meant to happen for us – at least not right now.

Now that the farm knows it has the ability to make this sort of impact, it’s become an obsession – a constant reach towards something better, bigger, and greater. But lightning doesn’t always strike twice, and realizing that is the key.

So, I have this playlist I’ve created called Mindfulness + Meditation. The songs included aren’t exactly meditative in nature, but they tell me stories that make me dig deep. One of my favorite songs on that playlist is by Annie Lennox: “Money Can’t Buy It.” I first fell in love with the song as it played in the background of a final scene in the 2008 remake of The Women – a scene in which Meg Ryan’s character truly begins to find herself. She begins to love and believe in herself. And then she creates.

This scene has always meant so much to me. It gives me goosebumps. It gives me all the good feels. Because even though the words of the song say, “I believe that love alone may do these things for you,” the love in question has nothing to do with another person. Money can’t buy it, sex can’t buy it, drugs can’t buy it, but perhaps it’s having a true love for yourself that will take you where you need to go.

In the scene in question, Ryan’s character puts on her first big fashion show. She appears to be headed for both artistic and commercial success, with buy offers from department stores and rave reviews. But that’s where the movie ends – with this hope. She took the risk to create and share, and now she is complete. She has fulfilled her arc.

And isn’t that a beautiful thought? That the simple act of trying is enough?

We all have different intentions for our art, our businesses, our blog posts, and our pony videos. For some of us, painting alone and hanging up our own work on the wall is a victory. For others, we hit the Publish button again and again, waiting for something to resonate and get one or two likes. But the root of our creations shouldn’t be in what we get back from them. Whether we impact ourselves or 8 million people, we’ve tried. We’ve put a piece of ourselves out there. And there’s a very, very, very good chance that it will NOT go viral.

It’s up to us to be obsessed with what we’ve created. It’s up to us go viral on ourselves, share the hell out of what we’re doing, and feel good just knowing that we’ve done what we set out to do – whether anyone else likes it or not. I mean, if we don’t believe in it, then who else ever will?