The Inspirationals #5: Happy (Single) Mother’s Day

The Inspirationals #5: Happy (Single) Mother’s Day

Welcome to the fifth installment of BeFreeMySheeple.com’s The Inspirationals where I interview people who inspire me. 

This week I interviewed Anna, a highly successful advertising executive and an inspirational woman who adopted two beautiful girls as a single parent, Madison & Phoebe (names changed to protect their identity). What makes this story unique is that Anna adopted her nieces from her sister to keep the family together. Like Anna’s daughters, I too was adopted so I have huge respect for anyone that goes through the adoption process and provides a better life for children. 

BeFreeMySheeple Anna
Beautiful family photo of Anna and her children Madison and Phoebe

Mother’s Day is an especially difficult time for me because I lost my mom to cancer on July 13, 2009. My birthday is July 11th and I’m certain that my mom held on for an extra two days so that I could enjoy my birthday for the rest of my life. Please call or hug your moms today and tell them how much you love them.

I also believe that being a mom is one of the toughest jobs in the world, especially as a single parent. Before we get into the interview, I wanted to share one of the most emotional and creative advertising campaigns that I’ve seen for Mother’s Day that reinforces this. Grab some tissues. 

BeFreeMySheeple.com’s Exclusive Interview with Anna

Adam Francisco: Happy Mother’s Day Anna!  As you know, I was adopted from Mexico so I have always been moved by your story. What inspired you to adopt your children?

Anna: I am a firm believer in keeping my family together.  Family is the most important thing to me and I would do anything for them.  I have always been involved in my nieces and nephew’s life so when I knew that Madison and Phoebe needed help, it wasn’t a question.  I don’t necessarily think it was inspiration that motivated me to adopt.  I think it was the love I have for my family and wanted to do whatever I could to protect them. 

Adam: What was the adoption process like?

Anna: This process was extremely difficult for me because I did not have a typical adoption.  My sister and brother-in law made some bad decisions in life and Madison and Phoebe were taken away from DCF (Division of Children and Family Services).  Because they were taken away from a government service, the adoption process is very different.  When you think of adopting, you think about the typical process – apply at an adoption agency, get interviewed, pay a ton of money and then meet the children.  My experience did not go like this at all.  

Adam: The typical process sounds like what my mom and dad had to go through to adopt me from Mexico.

Anna: When I first got custody of my daughters, I had just turned 25 years old and was working full-time at a media agency in New York City.  I was living in a 1 bedroom, 1-bathroom apartment and just barely managing to maintain paying all my bills.  You can only imagine to my shock when I received a phone call the morning of September 21, 2014 from a case worker at DCF to tell me that my nieces were going to be placed in a foster home if I did not take them in.  I was shocked, confused and devastated.  I went to the DCF office the next day and spoke with them for hours regarding what would happen to the girls if I did not take them.  The clear conclusion was that if I did not take the girls, unless my sister and brother-in-law got better, my family had a 99% chance of never seeing them again.  After hearing that, I knew what I needed to do, and I told DCF that I would take them.  3 days later the girls moved into my 1-bedroom apartment.  Madison was 2 and half and Phoebe was 11 months. 

BeFreeMySheeple Madison & Phoebe
Madison & Phoebe

Adam: Everything happened incredibly fast. What did you need to do to keep the girls?

Anna: The process of being a foster parent is extremely invasive, embarrassing, and almost abusive.  To even get your foster parent license, you must go through several steps – 3 drug and alcohol tests, psychological evaluation, background check, personal references, financial background checks, friends and family background checks etc…  and once you are cleared from all these things, then you must allow DCF workers to inspect your house.  Each month a DCF caseworker would come to my apartment and check every outlet, cabinet, bathroom, pet paperwork etc.… to make sure that everything is safe and compliant to foster care regulations.  If one thing was off, you were in jeopardy of the kids being taken away.  This honestly was so scary to me because you never knew if something might be out of place that you didn’t notice.

Adam: That sounds so stressful.

Anna: Besides having a case worker going through my home monthly, a lawyer and nurse would have to come every 3 months.  They only worked 9-5 so I would have to either take off a day of work to be home for when they could come or leave early, which to be honest, my boss was not very supportive or happy when I did.   

Adam: I hope that boss has learned a bit more humanity. 

Anna: I tried to always be accommodating with DCF because of the fear of upsetting them and risking Madison and Phoebe being taken away.  My biggest fear was making a mistake and then losing the girls.  

Adam: I can’t imagine.

Anna: For years, I went through this process and had to deal with these stresses.  I was even screamed at once by their nurses because I needed to reschedule a dentist appointment.  couldn’t maintain working in New York City and taking care of the girls and handling childcare so I ultimately left my job in NYC and got a job in an office close to my home. 

Adam: Living in NYC is already extremely stressful even without kids. You absolutely did the right thing getting the heck out of there. 

Anna: Before you can legally adopt foster children, there are 1 or two things that need to happen.  The biological parents need to sign away their rights or DCF needs to rule the parents are unfit to take care of their biological children. 

In one last attempt to connect my sister with her children, DCF setup a mediation session with the caseworker, myself and my sister.  I will never forget that session because the outcome was my sister telling me that I was a fucking asshole who had stolen her children.”  Ironically, a month later, my sister and brother-in-law signed away their parental rights and the adoption paperwork was processed. 

Adam: I’m so happy that they ultimately made the best decision for the kids.

BeFreeMySheeple Anna and Phoebe
Anna and Phoebe

Anna: The last step before the adoption took place was to have a medical check done on the girls so the government would help support their medical needs post-adoption.  This was finalized and on January 25, 2016 I legally became the proud mother of Madison and Phoebe.  

I can’t explain to you how happy I am to have the girls in my life.  Although it can be hard, I would not take it back for one second. 

Adam: What did your family and friends think about you adopting children as a single mom?

Anna: This is a tough topic to talk about because at first a lot of people did not support my decision.  I think my family and friends were concerned that at a such young age, I was giving my life away.  For a long time, I was very angry at them for not supporting me at first, but after I saw a therapist and was able to open my eyes, I understood it wasn’t because they did not believe I could, it was because they were worried for me.  Now, I can honestly say that everyone is truly happy and 100% supportive of my decision.  My dad tells me all the time how proud he is of me that I was able to get through all the hard time and build my career while being single mom.  Things really happen in mysterious ways. 

Adam: What are some of the challenges you face as a single mom? How do you handle them?

Anna: Being a mom has truly been the hardest challenge of my life. I honestly think all moms have a hard time and I wouldn’t say I have harder challenges than married moms, but we just have different ones.  I think for me, the biggest challenge is being a 30-year-old, single adoptive mom.  I say that because the questions that come up with my daughters are much different than others, but each mom has struggles.  My girls know they are adopted and have a lot of questions about their adoption.  My oldest wants to know why her birth parents “didn’t want her.”  It has haunted her a lot, but I always tell her that sometimes in life you have a birth mom and a forever mommy.  I am her forever mommy.  Her birth parents were just not ready to be forever parents, but that does not mean they did not love her.   They did.  Every time she hears that, her tears turn to a smile because she knows she is loved. 

BeFreeMySheeple Anna and Madison
Anna and Madison

Adam: You could even say she’s twice as loved – loved by the parents that wanted her to have a better life via adoption and you for adopting her.

Anna: Another fun question I get is, “when are you going on a date?” (it’s like I have a 97-yr. old grandma in the house), and if they will ever have a dad, and to be honest this is personally hard for me.  The day I adopted the girls the guy I was seeing for 6 months broke up with me.  That was hard for me because the girls had grown to adore him, and I was completely blindsided.  I get why he did it, but he is still an asshole. 

Adam: Yeah, that sounds like a selfish asshole.

Anna: I feel bad for the girls because I want them to have a normal life and be able to have that “daddy” figure in their lives.  I grew up with my dad and I knew how it felt to not have my mom around and I would never want them to go through that but dating as a single parent is tough now a days, and I need to focus on the girls and make sure they know that they always come first and are my 100% priority.  

Adam: Dating sounds pretty difficult in America as a single mom compared to Thailand where many women have children at a younger age so it’s completely normalized to date single moms there.

Anna: Yeah. Dating is hard.  To be honest, it sucks.  If I tell a guy I am a mom of an 8 and 6-year-old they are so quick to judge since I am only 30.  I don’t want to share the reasons why because I shouldn’t have to.  My family history shouldn’t matter, but a lot of the time guys don’t even give me the chance to let them know.  This is the only part of my life that I am sad about.  

BeFreeMySheeple

Adam: I wouldn’t be sad if I were you. A happy single parent is better than two miserable parents (most relationships ultimately end up unhappy). Enjoy your freedom!

Anna: [Laughter]. I think the other challenge I am constantly dealing with, which to be honest I think ALL moms can relate to, if they have girls, is how DIVA these minions are!  Yes, my kids are only 8 and 6, but they act like they are 18 and 16.  Madison is constantly wanting to go to Abercrombie & Fitch and needs to know the latest top 40! *roll eyes*.  Phoebe needs to get her nails done and has a “boyfriend.”  When I was their age, all I cared about was what Barbie was going to do in her dream house! 

Adam: OMG I can’t imagine what it’s like having a daughter lol. What advice can you give to someone who want to become a single parent?

Anna: I think that being a parent is a huge sacrifice.  The greatest advice I can give someone is to make sure that you are ready to worry about someone else 110% because you won’t have that extra time anymore to go get your nails done or grab a beer with your boys.  It is not an easy job and it’s a lot of hard fucking work, but in the end, it is all worth it.  I would never change my decision.  I have become a better person because of my girls and I think it is a blessing I have them.  Don’t be a parent, to be a parent.  Do it because you feel in your heart this is the right thing to do

Adam: If you could go back in time, what advice would you have given yourself? Is there anything you would have done differently?

Anna: Honestly, I don’t know.  I think I would have told myself to not let the negativity of others get to my head so much.  That really impacted me for a long time and I was so angry, so I would want to avoid that.  

If I could have done anything differently, I would have saved money better the minute I graduated from college.  Just like most typical early 20-year-old, I did not save the right way and I think if I had, I may have not struggled, but again I was not planning on being a foster mom at 25 and a single adoptive mother at 27. 

BeFreeMySheeple Unconditional Love
Unconditional love

Adam: That’s one piece of advice I think is important for everyone. Start saving early and invest. My first investment was in Facebook when it IPOed and my money has almost multiplied by five times since then!

Anna: Everyday you learn how to be a parent.  I don’t think I will ever be perfect at that job.  I make mistakes just like everyone else in this world.  I can only keep trying my best to make sure Madison and Phoebe have the best life and are 110% happy.  They are amazing kids who deserve the best.  

Adam: How has the definition of “happiness” changed for you?

Anna: Wow, that is an amazing question.  I don’t look at it as a single mom thing to be honest.  I think most moms would relate that my happiness is seeing my girls come home everyday with a smile on their faces.  Madison scoring a goal in her soccer game or Phoebe breakdancing when we are having a dance party on a Saturday night.  Their smiles are what makes me happy.  The pride they have when they get a 12/12 on their spelling test is amazing.  The excitement about going on a plane and meeting their great grandparents or throwing them a party for their baptisms with 30 people coming to support them.  As a mom, my life has changed.  My happiness is making sure my kids are happy and healthy and enjoying their lives.  That really is what matters to me.

Adam: Thank you so much for sharing such a personal and touching story. As an adoptee, I really appreciate what you’ve done for your children and I wish your family all the best and a Happy Mother’s Day this Sunday!

BeFreeMySheeple Anna Single Mother's Day
A beautiful family

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Have a Happy Mother’s Day! Have another person that you’d like me to consider for next month’s The Inspirationals? Leave a comment or you can e-mail me adam@befreemysheeple.com. If you enjoyed reading/watching this, you can follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple!

My Review of Phu Quoc, Vietnam

 

As I sit here and watch the sun rise on a grateful universe, I wanted to share my thoughts on Phu Quoc, Vietnam. I was warned ahead of time by locals and travelers that I might get bored after more than a few days in Phu Quoc. Is it true?  Read on to find out.

What is Phu Quoc?

Phu Quoc is an island in the gulf of Thailand that lies in the middle of Cambodia and Vietnam. Currently you can enter  without a visa (whereas if you enter anywhere else in Vietnam, you need a visa or apply for an invitation letter in advance).

Phu Quoc Map

My first impression of Phu Quoc

You can immediately tell that Phu Quoc is undergoing rapid expansion and development. The entire island feels like it’s under construction. If you’re looking for a developed island like Phuket, this is not it. I’m guessing this is what some of the Thai islands felt like 10-20 years ago. This island definitely feels unfinished, even in the more developed areas.

One thing that really disappointed me was how many makeshift landfills I’ve seen across the island. It doesn’t seem like recycling or showing respect for where you live is something the island is focusing on just yet. 

However, on the flipside, I’m currently at Golden Sand Bar and this is one of the most Instagrammable places I’ve been to in Vietnam. It’s almost like a playground for adults. Beautiful sculptures, great music and cocktails make this bar one of my favorites on this side of the world. Plus, unlike the neighboring Sunset Sanato Beach Club, this bar is dog-friendly. There’s 2 cute pups that live on premise. This is the kind of place that you bring a significant other to such as your dogs.

Is Phu Quoc Good for Single People?

Speaking of significant others, Phu Quoc is not an island I would recommend for bachelors or bachelorettes.  Unless you’re open to sharing a bedroom with 7 other people in a hostel, you’ll have a hard time meeting singles. I’ve never stayed in a shared room before simply because I started traveling after my career was established in my late-20s. If you are open to staying in a hostel, your experience might differ from mine. 

For example, look at my Bumble results after 5 minutes of swiping …

Bumble is empty

Everywhere across Thailand (except for the remote towns), it seemed that local women preferred dating farangs (foreigners), a subject I’ll discuss more in the future. This relationship dynamic doesn’t seem to exist in Phu Quoc on a mainstream level. It’s such an isolated island it seemed like every local girl had a local boyfriend. I can appreciate that but as their tourism industry continues to grow, I’m sure the dating culture here will start to shift. If you want to meet singles or experience a good nightlife, Phu Quoc may not be for you. This is the type of island where I recommend bringing sand to the beach (in other words, it’s a slow-paced, romantic island that’s a great choice for couples to get away).

Is Phu Quoc cheap?

I was also surprised at how expensive some of the activities in Phu Quoc were compared to Thailand. It was very difficult to find a massage for less than. 300,000 dong ($12 USD) whereas in Thailand I saw 200 baht ($6 USD) massages everywhere.

This of course changes if you go to the beach and find makeshift massage tables. Here they typically charge 200,000 dong ($8 USD) for the hour and it’s my ideal way to get a massage. Nothing beats the sounds of the ocean and a cool breeze against your skin offering relief from the heat while a Vietnamese woman soothes your soul by way of deep-tissuing your muscles. For a few extra bucks, you can get an aloe vera massage which is good if you’ve been laying out in the sun.

Phu Quoc Massage
Ahhh that’s the spot

And please tip your service workers generously if you can. They work hard and a dollar to an American or European or Australian is much easier to come by. Tipping your masseuse 20% just simply isn’t enough. I always tipped at least 50%. If a massage cost $6 USD, I would tip $3-5 USD. Even at $11 USD all-in, this is still less than just the tip for a massage in America (which are usually $50+/hour and a $10+ tip)!

Is the food good?

This one is purely subjective. Some people love Vietnamese food (I never got into pho). I was disappointed with it. I guess when you spend so much time in Thailand which arguably has the best (and cheapest) street food in the world, the bar is set so high that anything else is going to disappoint you.  Thailand … you’re like dating a 10. Dating anything less (even a 9) will feel disappointing after that!

One standout restaurant that I really enjoyed that was recommended to me by a couple that has been living in Phu Quoc for 3 years was Crab House. It has a really cool Western vibe, great customer service and amazing seafood boils. It was a bit on the pricier side so if you’re looking for cheap eats, then this place isn’t for you.

Another important story that I would be remiss to not include is how I got my first gout attack. I stayed at a really nice hotel called Sunlight Bungalow which was steps from the beach. Nice little hotel with great staff and customer service. They also have a restaurant attached to the hotel which was always busy for dinner so you know the food is good. Their speciality is fresh fish caught daily and BBQed to perfection. 

Normally the only seafood I eat is sushi and I typically stick with salmon and eel. I figured if I’m on an island, why not eat a fish every day? Well, seafood is one of the major triggers of a gout attack due to the high levels of purines.  This seafood overload (which is not part of my normal diet) completely ruined me. I woke up in so much pain that I couldn’t even walk. 1,000 MG of aspirin barely made a dent in the pain. I didn’t find out that I had suffered my first gout attack until days later. No fault of the restaurant but it reinforced a lesson in a painful way : too much of anything is never good.

At least Vietnam airlines has a great special services team.

English on Phu Quoc

Another challenge that I faced in Phu Quoc was a lack of English. I had to use Google Translate almost everywhere I went. There were a few people that I could talk to without a translator, but more often than not this wasn’t the case. In comparison, I almost never needed a translator in Thailand.

Is Phu Quoc dog-friendly?

I was pleasantly surprised at how dog-friendly the island was. Not once did I have a problem bringing my dogs into a bar, restaurant or coffee shop. Many of them even had dogs themselves! Unlike Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi where there is a dog-kidnapping market (either for ransom to sell back to the owner or to eat), Phu Quoc doesn’t seem to have that industry. It feels much safer for my dogs. In general, people reacted very positively to my  dogs (similar to my experience in Thailand).

Phu Quoc Massage

Summary of Phu Quoc

In summary, if I had to choose between Phu Quoc and Thailand, I would choose one of the Thai islands instead. In my opinion, it has better food, a better nightlife, more options for singles, more English-speakers, and in general is much cleaner.

This is not to say that Phu Quoc isn’t worth visiting … I would just recommend it for a couple looking for a chill, romantic getaway. 

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Have you been to Phu Quoc? Let me know your thoughts. Leave a comment or you can e-mail me adam@befreemysheeple.com. If you enjoyed reading/watching this, you can follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple!

 

So I Have Gout…Now What?

 

I’m sitting in the hospital waiting room in Nha Trang, Vietnam to get x-rays and blood tests to see what’s wrong with my big toe on the right foot, and on the TV screen I see a list of medical-related video links.

befreemysheeple nha trang hospital
None of this seems good

“Endoscopic carpal tunnel release.” I’m guessing this has something to do with carpal tunnel syndrome and repairing the tendons by releasing the stress?

“Proximal humerus percutaneous aiming system technique.” This sounds like a kill feature in one of Iron Man’s latest armors. “Activate humerus percutaneous aiming system.”

befreemysheeple Iron Man Tony Stark
“Activate humerus percutaneous aiming system”

While I don’t know what some of these words mean, none of them sound good. They all sound like medical procedures to repair or fix a body part that is no longer working properly or is broken. Kind of like my big right toe.

I’m 35 and I just found out that I had my first onset of gout. My blood results came back and I’m above the normal range for men (not scarily above, but comfortably above). They say symptoms first appear in men 30-50. Well I had all the symptoms and let me tell you that this was one of the most intense pains that I’ve ever felt. It was so bad that I needed wheelchair service from Vietnam Airlines. I could not put any pressure on my foot.

  • Intense joint pain – it felt like I had a broken toe
  • Lingering discomfort – 3 days later and I still can’t walk properly
  • Inflammation and redness – my right foot looked like a tomato
  • Limited range of motion – I couldn’t move my big right toe more than 10 degrees
befreemysheeple gout
Yeah, this looks normal

They also call it a disease of decadence or “King’s disease” because “people have incorrectly linked it to the kind of overindulgence in food and wine only the rich and powerful could afford” (link). And this makes sense because I have been living like a king these past 6 months on the beaches of Thailand and Vietnam. While I haven’t been drinking too much alcohol, my diet recently spiked in seafood during my time in Phu Quoc. The overload of purines from seafood likely caused my big right toe to blow up like a balloon and heat up like a heat pad.

Fortunately for me, while gout is one of the most physically painful things I’ve experienced, it is an illness that can be managed through diet, hydration, vitamin c, and exercise. I am looking at this as motivation to get myself into even better shape to minimize another attack. There are silver linings to everything in life.

Finding out that I am now in for lifelong battle with gout is a stark reminder that my time on earth as fully-functional, healthy being is not going to last forever. My youth and relatively good health, will slowly crumble away like removing pieces from a completed puzzle. New health issues are certain to arise in my future and I’ll think to myself, “remember when I just had gout?”

Our greatest assets – youth and health – are fleeting, a slowly but surely diminishing resource. Every second alive we are one step closer to our inevitable deaths. The grim reaper is coming for all of us. As my brother once told me (I’m sure he heard this from someone else), “we are all dying the second we are born.” The cruelty of existence. Sigh.

This is a why it’s important to never lose focus on the present because this is all that’s guaranteed. Minimizing stress and maximizing health and happiness should be everyone’s goal. The less stress you have, the longer your life expectancy is. The more you exercise and focus on having a clean diet, the longer your life expectancy is. And if you’re healthy today, be grateful and be thankful and use it. Don’t waste it sitting in an office 60 hours a week. If we weren’t supposed to travel, we would have roots instead of feet!

 To have a career, or live in a city, or to be in a relationship that isn’t making you net happier will slowly kill you.  Health above wealth, experiences over appearances. And as my friend Alicia said:

befreemysheeple alicia

Bonus Vlog!

 

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Do you suffer from gout as well? Leave a comment or you can e-mail me adam@befreemysheeple.com. If you enjoyed reading/watching this, you can follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple!

Why I Love Being Single

 

Every time I check into a new hotel in Phu Quoc, the front desk receptionists always ask “when is your wife arriving?” or “where is your girlfriend?” or “you’re here alone???” in a shocked tone.

A lot of people ask why I sometimes feel the need to post my opinions on marriage & long-term monogamy and it’s because this opinion is underrepresented (WHY DO YOU FEEL THE NEED TO POST YOUR ENGAGEMENTS AND MARRIAGES. It’s the same thing lol). Every day we see engagement and marriage posts on our feeds which are openly applauded and accepted (despite the inevitable failure of over half of them) but few people are openly sharing the other lifestyle, the lifestyle of “there are reasons and benefits to be happily single and avoid traditional relationships at all costs.” Unlike people in a relationship who become dependent and almost feed off of their significant other’s scent, I am in complete control of my happiness (and my daily moods). That and I have my dogs to provide actual unconditional love. Romantic love is extremely conditional. Gain 100 pounds of fat or lose everything at the casino and you’ll see how conditional love is.

unconditional loveAnd this goes for both women and men. With gender equality existing in places like America which enables women to be financially independent, they no longer need a man to fulfill that traditional gender role of “providing for the family.” They can provide for themselves. And this is a beautiful thing. After living in Asia for 7 months, I’ve seen traditional gender norms almost fully intact.

American Businesswoman
God bless America (looks like LA).

My point is – we need to normalize that it’s OK to be single and it’s ok to have casual and mutually respectful relationships. Personally, I have never had sustainable happiness in a long-term relationship before and a lot of it has to do with traditional relationships limiting my freedom (“don’t text her, don’t look at her, don’t do this, come with me to this party, I’m in a bad mood now we are both in a bad mood, etc”). You ”love” someone but you’re telling them what they can and cannot do lol. That doesn’t sound like love to me. That sounds like self-inflicted imprisonment.

Do you have any idea how liberating it is to not have to worry about someone snooping on my phone and finding something that I didn’t want them to find? Nobody is perfect. There is always something to find if you go looking for it.

Snooping
Guys that are only half-into a relationship have to hide their shenanigans. Their girls be looking like…

It is absolutely normal and OK to be attracted and want other people than your significant other. This doesn’t lessen your love for them. It just highlights your humanity. Yet society says this completely normal thing is wrong and evil and invalidates your love. Unlike the married, I have the freedom to do what I want and not suppress my wants and desires (“I want to talk to that girl at the bar and buy her a drink but I can’t because I’m not supposed to”) lol.

You can love both your parents. You can love multiple friends. But you can’t love or want more than 1 person? Please. You want to try new foods. Try new jobs. Try new hobbies. Travel new places. But god forbid you want to have sex with someone else. The expectation that you are supposed to have sex with and love 1 person your entire life is so absurd that it’s laughable. lol.

dan bilzerian
If married men were honest, they’d admit that they’d rather have Dan Bilzerian’s lifestyle (I’m not at his level and I probably will never be and that’s ok)

Personally, I’m simply not willing to compromise any degree of the happiness I’ve created for myself just to be in a relationship (“I must just deal with some drama because this is what I’m supposed to be doing”). Many sheeple accept mediocrity from their relationships because they are 18-40 and a relationship is the “ultimate prize” because everyone around them is doing it. As they get older and time becomes more of a premium, they learn that they shouldn’t put up with anything but the best. Until then, many people think marriage is some sort of personal validation or badge of honor. It’s not. I see it as some sort of jail.

“Humans are born free and any perceived limitations will ultimately make us want to rebel against them!” -KarelDonk

freedom
This is how many single people actually feel

And many of you will think “you just haven’t met the right one yet.” There is no “right one” and when finding this unicorn of a person becomes your ultimate goal, you lose focus of the present and just enjoying someone’s company without any expectations. And ask all the couples you know that broke up, got divorced (which is about to happen en masse) about how it went after they thought they “met the right one.”

Ultimately I believe it comes down to human nature. Many of us are more selfish than we are willing to acknowledge and selfishness is one of the worst things in a relationship (for the record, I am selfish af but I care deeply for my close friends). For a relationship to work long-term it has to truly be selfless with completely open communication. Many of you share things with your best friends that you’d never tell your wife/husband. The only chance your relationships has to survive is to SHARE EVERYTHING – even the truths he or she may not want to hear (“so there’s this younger girl at work and I think we are developing a connection.”)

unhappy couple
This couple doesn’t seem to be doing so well

And do I want kids? Absolutely. If I can find someone with my lifestyle, co-parenting is an option. But so is surrogacy and adoption and I can be the best single dad just as I’m the best single dog dad. And a child does not need a mom and dad to thrive so stop with that traditional thinking. There are many same sex parents (2 moms, 2 dads) and single parents that are crushing it. Likewise there are many traditional parents that are always fighting and have created a chaotic environment for a child to grow up in. Personally, I know many single moms that are amazing. I really do think a solo and happy stable household is better than a chaotic, constantly fighting undersexed mom&dad.

Anyway – stay woke. I’m going to enjoy this fresh passion fruit juice and continue to check into bungalows on the beach single. 😁

befreemysheeple phu quoc passion fruit

 

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Are you happily single too? Leave a comment or you can e-mail me adam@befreemysheeple.com. If you enjoyed reading/watching this, you can follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple!

How Instagram Can Fix Instagram

 

I was working out at the gym and it just hit me: I figured out how Instagram can fix Instagram. 

befreemysheeple gym
When you’re working out and a solution to fix Instagram hits you

Defining an “influencer”

First, I want to define how I am defining “influencers” for the purpose of this article. I do not consider actors, actresses, reality TV stars, athletes, musicians, etc. to be influencers. Yes, they are influential but they would be famous with or without Instagram. They achieved fame via TV, radio, YouTube, etc. and use Instagram as an amplification platform.

I am defining an “influencer” as somebody who built their audience specifically on the Instagram platform. I estimate that 90% of Instagram influencers are fake. Don’t believe me? Plug in your favorite influencer’s names in this link and if they score anything below a 70, they did something to their account. Then, plug in a real celebrity’s Instagram and you’ll see a huge difference (usually 85+).

befreemysheeple zac efron
Zac Efron does not need Instagram to be famous

What can brands do?

Many brands also question the effectiveness of using influencers and this is more because of the influencers they’re choosing to work with versus the influencer industry itself. If brands focused on using authentic, verified influencers, they would have a much better overall experience by achieving better ROI. It’s important to always validate the authenticity of your paid influencers using readily available third party tools.

befreemysheeple instagram fraud calculator
I made this clickable for you

 

Follow/Unfollow Method

One of the biggest complaints that the IG community has about Instagram is that many of the “influencers” use a method called “follow/unfollow” to build their audience inorganically. Here’s how Instagram can put an end to it, if they really wanted to (they should want to because it dirties the platform). 

Analyze user behavior

The first step would be to run a deep analysis on user behavior. Look at the accounts who are following 100s to 1,000s of accounts a day and put them in the “follow/unfollow user” bucket. Real talk – who really needs to follow that many people in 1 day? Nobody. 

The second step is to take look at the users who are following a more reasonable number of accounts per day. I would guess that the average person (not using growth software) organically only follows anywhere between 1 to 25 people a day. 

befreemysheeple instagram

IG Follow Credits

Once Instagram has analyzed this data, they can come up with a daily follow cap. Maybe this number is set at 25. This means that an account can only follow 25 other accounts per day. They can create a new virtual currency called IG Follow Credits. Everyone gets 25 credits a day for free (1 credit equaling 1 follow). They expire daily so you either use them or you lose them. They don’t accrue. This is the same as Tinder Super Swipes…just because you didn’t sign in for a week doesn’t mean you magically get 35 super swipes when you sign back in … you get 5.

befreemysheeple iG follow credits
25 follows a day – that’s it!

Should a user want to follow more than 25 accounts in a day, they would have to purchase more IG Follow Credits at increasing rates across tiers. These credits could be sold starting from $.01. For example:

0-25 Follows = Free
25-100 Follows = $.01/follow $.75
100+ Follows =  $.05/follow  $7.50
250+ Follows = $.10/follow $19.5
500+ Follows = $.15/follow
1,000+ Follows = $.25/follow

So if I wanted to follow 445 accounts in a day (after using my 25 free daily follows), it would cost me $27.75. 

With this approach, influencers that are using the follow/unfollow method would have a financial barrier of entry to overcome and this would almost guarantee the end of the strategy overnight. Of course there will be those that might find it worth paying for the additional follows. This gives Instagram a new revenue stream. 

Why should Instagram do this?

One of the most disheartening feelings for an authentic Instagram user is when they get followed by a bunch of accounts and they think that their content is finally resonating … only to see their follower count quickly decrease because they were followed/unfollowed by software. Because the follow/unfollow strategy works, Instagram users are incentivized to either jump on board or sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else get “famous.” This has created an untrustworthy platform for both users and brands and I believe it’s Instagram’s responsibility to fix it as quickly as possible.

I still think the best way to fix Instagram would be to completely remove follower count from the profiles. It is simply a vanity metric and not an indicator of how valuable so that account is because it is easily manipulatable. 

befreemysheeple Instagram

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What do you think about my solution? Leave a comment or you can e-mail me adam@befreemysheeple.com. If you enjoyed reading/watching this, you can follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple!