The short, choppy sentences. The obvious Rutgers stock images. The white block font with a bright color shadowing the relatable text. If you’re a Rutgers student on Instagram, you most likely have seen the account @rutgersaffirmations on your friend’s story, if you aren’t already one of the nearly 4,000 followers of the account.
@rutgersaffirmations’s posts mix meme humor with good ol' Rutgers relatability. The most liked post is one of the Raritan that reads “I LOVE THE NEW SWIMMING POOLS ON CAMPUS” that was posted right after the floods at the beginning of the semester. This is just one of the many posts that marks the account as hilariously relevant.
The mysterious marketing mastermind behind the Instagram account is, gasp, Mary Gillespie, a sophomore planning to major in marketing at Rutgers Business School. Gillespie sat down with Inside Beat to discuss how @rutgersaffirmations came to be.
Gillespie sports short, pink hair inspired by the titular character of Greta Gerwig’s 2017 film “Lady Bird” and she possesses that "je ne sais quoi" element to her style that indistinguishably characterizes it as Generation Z. And for all you lovers of astrology who may be wondering, she’s an Aries sun, Sagittarius moon and Taurus rising,
The account started after Gillespie noticed that some colleges had been making pages similar to the viral @affirmations page on Instagram and decided that Rutgers definitely needed one.
“I love that the owner of the (affirmations) account is really serious about it but doesn’t mind that people find it to be, like, memes,” she said.
Gillespie is the sole owner of the account, and she comes up with content either by herself, from friends or through pitches in the account’s DMs. She likes to brainstorm ideas that most Rutgers students would relate to.
The big question that’s on all viewers’ minds is whether Gillespie actually believes in manifestation and the power of affirmations.
“I really do honestly," said Gillespie. "I've actually tried to do manifesting, what I like to do is journal. I forgot where I read this but you journal as if it’s already happened to you, and I love doing that. Positive thinking really helps you. It doesn't just happen to you. If you have it in your mind and you start taking actions consciously I think it works.”
She spoke about how whenever she’s with her roommate, they manifest finding a parking spot on Cook campus, and they always find one whenever they speak into existence that they will. If you’ve ever had to park in Lot 99 on Cook campus, you know that this is no small feat.
@rutgersaffirmations is just one of many ways that Gillespie rules social media. She’s basically a Rutgers micro-celebrity that has more followers on her personal Instagram account than the @rutgersafirmations account does. And, as if she couldn’t get any more cool, one of her recent posts shows Gillespie with Paris Hilton at the MTV Video Music Awards after winning free tickets to the red carpet event.
Her Instagram stardom came from her TikTok success. Gillespie started her rise to TikTok stardom when she started her account maryyisabel due to boredom at the beginning of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown.
"I was (just) scrolling through TikTok endlessly and I thought, you know what, I should just start posting seriously and see if I can get actual views," she said. Now, Gillespie has almost 300,000 followers and counting.
She laughed about her social media prowess and mused that she’s good at social media and can see herself pursuing a career in the field. “TikTok is the reason I chose marketing, which is insane," she said.
But besides being an all-around internet sensation, Gillespie is a Swiftie. Like, not just someone who listens to Taylor Swift from time to time and supports Swift’s endeavors: According to the social media icon, being a Swiftie has been an integral part of her personality since she “was literally 9 years old.”
To those who aren’t Swifties (you’re missing out) Gillespie explained what she meant by spreading “the Swiftie agenda” on campus.
“The Swiftie agenda is just spreading the power of Swiftie-ism. I don’t even know how to word this. Just spreading (Swift's) music and getting other people to listen, getting those streams,” she laughed. “I’m like a walking Taylor Swift advertisement.”
She dubs herself a “professional Swiftie” and honestly, if anyone is one, it’s Gillespie. After amassing a large Tumblr following when the social media platform was popular, Swift herself became a Gillespie follower.
Not long after, in a dream-come-true moment, Gillespie was invited to meet Swift at a secret session at Swift’s Rhode Island residence.
Gillespie is nowhere near done with girlbossing the internet. Since our interview, she dropped @rutgersaffirmations merch, including stickers, t-shirts and of course, tote bags. Fans of the account can even expect posters of the account around campus, but Gillespie has to figure out how printing works on campus first.
To her followers, Gillespie shared a message in between laughs: “Thank you for following me, and also thank you for the funny comments … keep sending in funny submissions.”