Sometimes you come across a post on social media that hits you right in the feels. Or, if you're a 20 or 30 something woman, that might be the case with Mari Andrew's entire Instagram feed.
A writer and illustrator living in Washington, DC, Andrew posts a cartoon a day on her Instagram account, ByMariAndrew, and is currently working on a book of illustrated essays.
"I'm 30 years old and I just started drawing last year!," Andrew told The Huffington Post Australia.
"I've always enjoyed doodling, but didn't really make illustration a discipline until my late 20s. I was looking for a hobby that would bring me some daily joy, and drawing is the one that stuck."
"I've always been a writer, but creating comics became a new way to express myself that seemed to resonate with people and became a really wonderful experience for me as well. I recommend that everyone find a little moment every day to do something they enjoy just for the fun of it -- that's how I started," Andrew said.
With such a unique knack for pinpointing how women feel and act in 2016, Andrew's Instagram account has grown to 200,000 followers in a fairly short amount of time. The insight comes from her own experiences.
"Oh, 100 percent from my life! I talk to my friends a lot about my day, and our conversations usually morph into these cartoons that feel very specific to how I feel and what I'm going through. It's amazing how many people around the world relate to my personal experiences -- it really blows me away. We are all so similar, really."
Andrew has had a lot of feedback from female followers relating to her content.
"A lot of women have told me that my drawings help them feel less alone, or put into words a feeling that they hadn't articulated. Obviously that makes me feel amazing! It's incredible and surreal to make someone feel that way, and in turn, I feel a lot less alone in my experiences when I get those kinds of comments."
"A wonderful byproduct of having this social media presence is that this community has formed of people going through basically the same experiences. I see women being really supportive of each other in my comments and that's a really lovely thing to witness. The internet can be a tough place for women and I love thinking about creating a safe spot for women to connect and encourage each other," Andrew said.
Using art as a form of therapy, Andrew draws her life to process it.
"I process the events of my day through drawing. Now that I have a larger audience, I sometimes feel a responsibility to make my work more relatable or inspiring to a wide range of people, but at the end of the day, I'm just sharing stories of what's going on in my life. It's tremendously therapeutic--half-journal, half-art-therapy session, every day."
In terms of how she stays positive within the social media world, where more followers can mean more negativity, Andrew ties to focus on the good.
"Drawing is the most relaxing and happy part of my day -- it continues to be a source of self-care and therapy for me. Now that it's become a very public thing and I have to deal with trolls and criticism (very hard for a sensitive soul like me!), I have to make an effort to focus on the positive. Whenever I'm feeling down, I try to think of an antidote and turn that into an illustration, either by drawing something that makes me happy or something that makes me feel hopeful."
"Additionally, I do a lot of yoga, take a lot of walks, and eat a lot of delicious food -- all these things provide me with happiness and hope!," Andrew said.
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