After just less than a year of remaining anonymous, Lesly Tan ’22, Alexanda Koch-Liu ’22, and Melissa Damasceno ’22 posted “I am andover affirmations” in their traditional neon font on their jointly run Andover Affirmations page. The account runners of the student-run Andover meme page revealed their identities in a post on April 28. The unexpected revelation was discussed widely amongst the student body.
First created in August of 2021, the account amassed over 1,000 followers and was quick on its surge. Tan first created the account after seeing similar accounts made by college students, and has been in charge of the account since then.
“My biggest surprise was the attention that it received from the beginning. People have DMed me [about] how this account has brought a bit of joy in their lives and made them feel less alone when faced with common Andover struggles, which was so heartwarming. I love it when I hear people in real life talk about the account and laugh about the affirmations, although I have to pretend to not run it,” said Tan.
Currently, the Andover Affirmations Instagram page has 140 posts, expanding its influence through social media. According to Zadia Rutty-Turner ’23, the inclusivity within the posts while having the account public accounted for her fondness towards the account.
“My favorite thing about Andover Affirmations is the sense of a school-wide inside joke, which sounds like an oxymoron. It’s the fact that most of the posts taken out of context would make absolutely zero sense, but that we are all in on the joke makes it almost private, but it’s very public. My favorite one was the ‘I am someone’s mystery crush’ from [Jennifer Elliott’s ’94, Assistant Head of School for Residential Life and Dean of Students] speech in an ASM. I thought it was very funny,” said Rutty-Turner.
With the account, Tan hopes to continue impacting the student community with creativity and humor. Given the huge attention the account obtained, Tan expressed overwhelmness on the day following the revelation but also the feeling of compensation for her work.
“In the beginning, I didn’t think much about anonymity because I had no idea it would become such a big account. My primary intention was to focus on humor, which is still my main reason today. I’m also a bit of a shy person in general and don’t like a lot of attention, so that’s also another reason. After a while, the account died down a bit because I wasn’t posting consistently as before, but it still felt like a bit of a secret and it was kind of annoying to keep quiet about it to a certain extent. I have also done so much work on the Instagram account that I wanted to take credit for it as well, so I thought maybe I should just reveal,” said Tan.
Tan continued, “I did end up getting a bit of attention that day, people would come up to me and be like, ‘oh my god, you are Andover affirmations.’ I even had some alum reaching out to me through text, so it was a little bit overwhelming, but it wasn’t too bad. I think no one really cares anymore now, but the day after I was a little overwhelmed.”
Tan also attributed the help of friends and Instagram DMs that provided her numerous inspiration for posts. Koch-Liu, Tan’s roommate, offered advice since the creation of the account.
Koch-Liu said, “Right now, we’re roommates, so sometimes at night, she would ask me, ‘What do you think?’ or what we should post for today, or, ‘Is this appropriate?’ She has such a huge following, [so] she needs to be careful with what she posts. Also the cancel culture is huge here, so oftentimes she’d run it by me. When she didn’t have any ideas herself, she would ask me for inspiration.”
William Suh ’24 has been a follower of Andover Affirmations since the very first post. He expresses gratitude for Tan for the account that has brought him joy and tightened the community.
“I can’t say that I was completely surprised by [Tan’s] identity because of a few posts where she was literally in it, but I have to say that it has been the most joyful thing that I see in social media every day, and the fact that every post is so relatable, sarcastic, and Andover-specific really made it such a fun experience as a follower. Some of these things are really funny, and I really appreciate that we can all laugh together as Andover students,” said Suh.
Until graduation, Tan will be running the account before passing it on to its forerunner, whose identity she refused to disclose.
“Part of Andover Affirmations is the anonymity of the person posting, but [at the same time] I honestly believe that humor and laughter help people feel less alone in their struggles and feel more connected to the community by collectively acknowledging them, even if it is about the struggle of looking hot in a winter coat,” said Tan.
Editor’s Note: William Suh ’24 is a business manager for The Phillipian.