‘What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you’
‘Your vision will become clear only when you look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dream; who looks inside, awakes.’
I have to be honest that I’m not hugely into inspirational tumblr/insta quotes. They’re a bit too cheesy for me, and they just always feel a bit too simplified and idealist. I understand they’re succinct to deliver instant positivity , but I just can’t help but think that they need to a bit of fleshing out to be apply to the complexity of our lives. But the root of what they’re trying to tell us is helpful, and they do serve as quick-fire reminders of how we could be living our lives a bit more effectively in terms of feeling fulfilled.
This year is very much about realising stuff. The kind of people I want in my life (and the ones I definitely don’t), the things I want to spend my time on, the environments I want to be in, the energy’s I want to be around, and the messages I want to send out to the world and so on.
The most significant thing I’ve realised though, is that many of the queries, wonderings, and confusions I’ve felt over the last few years, were actually things I knew the answers to already, but were perhaps not ready to admit, or accept, for a number of reasons.
What I’m saying is, that I’ve known inside what was right for me for a while now, the direction I should have been heading and the people I should have been spending time, but there were emotional traps preventing me from acting on that knowledge.
Our generation are often saying things referring to ‘how lost we feel’, when in fact we know exactly where we are, and where we should at least be attempting to go. Yes it might be hidden by layers of crap, insecurities, fears, external opinions, or require some exhausting and intensive soul searching, but our gut generally knows what’s up…or down.
Think back to some pivotal life moments, now that you’re equipped with the benefits of hindsight. I guarantee a lot of them you’ll be able to recall a moment when you knew something felt wrong, or at least not right for you.
For instance, when I look back to some past relationships, which were either horrendous, or had simply run their course, I knew I needed to leave, or find a way to end them. The signs were ridiculously obvious, as were their impact on my happiness, or lack of. But I didn’t leave, well not straight away at least. I hung in for months, if not for several soul-destroying years. Even though I knew staying would have some extremely negative impacts on my life, or mean that I wouldn’t ever be as happy as I possibly could be. I was worrying about the consequences of escaping that living hell, in case it would deliver me to an even hotter hell. I was worrying that I’d be in some sort of danger if I dared to finally do what I should have done a long time again. I was anxious about witnessing someone else’s heart breaking. I was worried about losing the person that had been such a huge part of my life, even if it had been a largely toxic element. I was worried no one would love me again. All valid fears that many people feel in these fork- in- the- road relationship moments, but still not a reason to ignore what I knew was the right thing to do. And I can confirm that when I finally decided to be guided by the knowledge I had in my head, and my gut, things changed for the better. It wasn’t seamless or without heartache and severe depression, but it still set me on the correct path towards the life I should have been having or seeking out.
YouTube – another truth I’ve been aware of but not been responding to accordingly. I’ve know for so long that it’s not really for me. It goes against so much that I hold dear and it just doesn’t sit well with me….a fact that rears it’s head in most blog posts I write, because the industry and my part in it, has had so many negative effects on my mindset since I started thinking of it as a career. I was also trying to be a type of YouTuber I thought people wanted me to be, one that didn’t really capture who I am or the stage of life I was/am at. I was comparing my content to to those that thought very differently to me, who were at very different stages of their lives. Why was I convincing myself I needed to make content like the cool early twenty-somethings, when really that isn’t where I’m at or what I’d want to watch? So I’ve had to tell people who were attempting to guide my YouTube career that I’m not that interested in certain elements of being a YouTuber, that many of their younger influencers perhaps would be. Instead I’ve asked them to think more about the brands a late twenty/early thirty person would likely be into, and I’ve started to create videos that capture issues that come as part of my generation. I’m not fresh out of uni, I’m not wanting to douse myself in glitter the whole time…I want to be comfortable in the clothes I wear, and explore things that my twenties have educated me about or created a passion for. And you know what, I shouldn’t worry that this would make me unappealing to the ‘youth’ market, because I truly hope they could see me as that big sister, a cousin, a mum figure that they can listen to hark on about the mistakes I made when I was growing up that helped me develop or learn in some way. Who knows maybe my mistake littered youth will help someone travel across the tricky terrain of twenty-something life with more comfy and stable boots.
Then there’s the music interviewing stuff. Last weekend yet another much-needed relaxing weekend was wasted because I’d prepped for a couple of interviews that ended up being cancelled…and I didn’t even get told they were cancelled on this occasion. Sadly this isn’t a rarity. And while I can often sympathise with some of the reason why this flakiness occurs, it doesn’t make it any less frustrating when you’ve spent hours researching, charging cameras, clearing SD cards, switching your schedule around to make it work, and sometimes even saying no to another opportunity. Factor in already coping with grief, being perennially exhausted, and feeling like people always feel ok about mucking you about because, you know, ‘Soph, won’t mind’ and the let down can feel very powerful. I was reminded about a tough talk I’ve had from a couple of people in my life, that kind that tell me how it is in a plain and brutal, but ultimately helpful way. They said no matter how many interviews you do, whatever great response you get from respected industry people, commenters or even the artists, you’ll never going to progress in this job because you don’t fit the mould people in power are looking for. Basically I’m not pretty enough to be hired based on my looks, I’m not edgy/alt enough to be ‘on-brand’ for certain channels/mags/brands and I’m not ‘in’ enough with influential music bigwigs that I’d get a chance based on connections. So they ask me if it’s really worth my time, effort and passion. And I had to agree that if over 500+ interview hadn’t lead to any substantial work opps or money it probably never would. So from this point onwards I’ve decided I’ll only do interviews if it’s easy, not gonna cause me extra stress that won’t be balanced out by the benefits of doing it. I’ve also decided that next year, and specifically next summer, is going to be spent very differently to the way it has been the last 15 years and I will be saying goodbye to a part of my working life that has eaten up a significant amount of my time and energy. Hint – wanderlust.
Then there’s my artwork. I had abandoned doing anything for the last few years, even though it was I studied at uni, and had always hoped would be the basis of my career. I had a brief return a few years ago , but commissions for mates (with mates rates) brought stress into the process and eventually lead to me hating creating work. Then a few months ago I was out walking the streets of London while shooting my pal Amanda, and she started asking me about drawing and why I don’t do it anymore. I told her about how creating commissioned pieces had kind of killed the joy of it for me, but she continued to question why I didn’t just pick up the pen again and give it a go under the header of ‘why not.’ As soon as I started to draw again, for me, and put the ideas and thoughts in my head on to paper, or just sought relaxed via the dot work technique, I remembered why Ihad loved drawing so much. Since then I’ve posted them online (which was a scary thing to do), opened an Etsy store, and actually been able to make some money from my creations. It’s given me more joy and self worth than I’ve felt in a over a decade of working my ass off creating for other people’s platforms, and I finally feel like I’m on the right path.
There were some people I really wanted to be friends with, because they wanted to be friends with me, we had a lot of mutual friends, and appeared to be into the same stuff. But the reality was that I didn’t feel in tune with their approach to life, what they value, what they put emphasis on – so I knew it wasn’t going to be a friendship that would truly enrich my life. I already have so many friends (that I don’t dedicate enough time to) that are those stunningly rare but treasured low maintenance friends, who aren’t your mate for anything remotely superficial, cool, or convenient, who will be there for you when you, or the period of life you’re in is ugly, and who won’t add needless drama. I’m not saying we don’t go through stressful times, and that the relationships aren’t ever hard because of the stuff either of us are facing, but you are there for each-other because you know the core is good.I could have really pushed to cement some ‘cool’ friendships, which would have benefited me in other ways, but instead I‘ve preferred to have down to earth realness with people I simply feel at ease with, and who I share common ground with. So I’ve been spending the very small amount of spare non-work time I have, with the friends that have proven to be absolute gold over the years, those gems that couldn’t give a toss about social media numbers or guest-lists.
So this year I’ve listed to my inner voice more than ever. Where possible I’ve focused more time on drawing, in the hope that will be my primary source of income, as well as the main place for venting thoughts. In doing so I hope YouTube will just be somewhere I upload videos I want, when I want, which will simply be in support of my art or any other important messages I want to express. I no longer force myself to be in social situations I know won’t make me happy, and hope to continue to avoid people or scenarios that make me stressed out moving forward.
So before you utter words similar to ‘I feel a bit lost’ or finding yourself stagnant because your lacking direction, please take some time to seek the answers inside. The inner voice might be extremely quiet, or muffled by the noise of fear, but it’s there (promise) and it knows what you need to do. Strip everything back, turn the volume down on external influences and self doubt, and listen to to what your moral compass, personal experience and natural inclination is telling you is right.
I’m not saying by following your gut you’ll avoid everything sad or tough – after all that’s an integral part of living. Ghastly stuff will happen, no doubt, but they may be things you were meant to experience, for reasons that may not be completely obvious at first. There will also be rubbish things that happen that are out of y/our control, but at least the stuff we do have a grasp we can shape to our advantage and could put us in a better position to cope. Sometimes your inner script will be telling you stuff you don’t want to hear because it means you gotta makes some tough decision and even tougher actions. Maybe the truth will be ugly, or make you realise that your behaviours have become ugly. But im confident, as hard as it may be, that we’ll end up on the right track.
This isn’t about an easy life, this is about the right life…for you.