Instagram and other forms of social media create an environment in which you can either a) connect and network or b) are made to feel (or make others feel) like your ‘curation’ of life doesn’t stack up. 

Like, you’re doing it wrong, basically. 

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So would it be weird for me to want to reverse engineer someone else’s success? Whether achieved on Instagram or elsewhere, is it stealing if I want to copy their trajectory as it seems a recipe for the type of success I'd like to attain, and blatantly ask, how exactly did you do this, or that?

Secrets to success, are, well, personal. Who would want to share their methods, madness and learnings with someone they’ve never met? To what end? Just to be copied and have even more competition? 

But I took the chance anyway, and asked the woman I’m most jealous of on a coffee date. Opting for the connect and network option, rather than doing the demoralising comparing thing. 

Modupe Oloruntoba, a 25-year-old woman who hails from Nigeria and lived in Lesotho until she was a tween, then came to South Africa, is a writer, wordsmith, fashion enthusiast and just a general bubbly and very, ridiculously nice person.

Since you all liked the outfit so much, happy Fridaaay ??

A post shared by Modupe Oloruntoba (@drivingmsdupsie) on

She’s written for many prestigious local and international publications and websites I’ve always wanted to write for.

Her writing is fat. It says so much in so little words, and is bold and brave. 

Almost like online dating, the meeting in real life can be a letdown. Where you build up the idea of that person so much in your mind, placing them on a pedestal so high Jack and the Beanstalk wouldn’t be able to climb so high, that when you do meet you realise this person is not a hero, but just a human. 

I can’t say I felt this way meeting Modupe. She was a hero still. She spoke so openly about her Imposter Syndrome, her doubts, her acknowledgement of her own privilege, and had a great awareness of self.  

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I picked her brain about how she manages (great pitches aside) to get to write for big name publications like the US sites like Manrepeller and Refinery29. 

The lip that wouldn't quit ?? Thanks for painting my face @reneedewit! ??

A post shared by Modupe Oloruntoba (@drivingmsdupsie) on

“I became part of the community in the comments section,” she says. She went onto explain how she uses social media and threads to get to know the editors and members of the community that is catered for. 

“I know he’s a cat person,” she says about ‘stalking’ some editors on social media. 

Knowing, not only what you want to pitch, but the people you want to pitch to, is important. Such as with any industry, the people maketh the product. 

Thing is to use some of that info and think about what you can add, ask yourself what are you an expert in. Find a niche that will set you apart, because of your unique accumulation of knowledge. That could be anything, even those experiences you think don’t matter. It might, if developed, become something great that matters to the masses. 

The road less travelled, the one that brings you there but in a non-traditional manner might just be the one that tells a more interesting story. Social media 'stalking' (however harmless in this case), works. 

But you have to play to your strengths. 

Stealing trade secrets, be it from her or anyone else who has raked in success, is a technique that should be applied, but with caution. The caution that says:

WARNING: Dreams might not come to fruition

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but imitation is always just that, imitation. So with jealousy comes the notion that we want to be that person, have what they have and live their dreams for ourselves. But it cannot ever be felt the same, as we are always just competing with ourselves in the end. 

'Steal', copy, borrow, beg, be jealous and let those things drive your success, but not because you strive to be like, but be better. 

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