Come late December, early January, the blogosphere is going to be awash with ‘What I learned this year’ type posts, goals for the year ahead, and of course resolutions. I thought I’d get in a bit early with this theme, having just celebrated a birthday. On the 28th October I always find myself pondering the year I have had since my last celebration of birth, and consider how I plan to move forward with what I’ve learned or experienced during this time. So here’s just a few….
Sometimes you just gotta let go: It’s good to be ambitious, to have goals, even ones that feel unrealistic. These dreams drive us forward, give us a zest for life and something to wake up for in the morning. But it’s also important to be able to recognise where time is being wasted an where efforts are futile. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve failed, it may be that your goal isn’t a good fit with who you are or what your unique situation is. It might be that the particular goal is particularly difficult due to the financial or political times we find ourselves in. It may be because you’ve realised that that goal actually shouldn’t be the priority and other things are far more important right now, or even forever. I’ve definitely let go of some dreams I had previously because I realised the pursuit was actually draining me of confidence and stressing me out to an unhealthy level. I also realised that even of I had achieved the dream, I may have not reaped the rewards I had always thought reaching that goal would deliver. Not all dreams and aspirations are how you imagine them to be, and sometimes they’re better left as, well….dreams.
It’s good to take a step back: A lot of YouTubers will probably nod along to this one. I think many of us have gotten very frustrated with the platform. It’s apparent inability to send videos to subscription boxes, it’s decision to de-monatize videos about mental health and other subjects we should be encouraged to talk about, and a number of other changes and glitches which have made us lose faith in the company. I also feel there’s been a change in the general vibe of the space, with commenters beings increasingly nit picky, negative and darn right rude at times. Yes that’s always happened but it definitely feels more prevalent at the moment, I guess we’re all finding modern times stressful, with some people choosing to vent frustrations in unhelpful ways. I guess if you’re still making sizeable money from uploading you’d probably be able to rationalise it a bit better and decide it’s still worth uploading, but smaller creaters spending hours to upload regular content who may be earning very little or nothing from doing so, may well think it’s not worth the hassle to continue. A lot of very good and innovative YouTubers, who put a lot of effort into their videos aren’t growing too, so they’ve also been forced to consider how they spend their precious time. Quite rightly many have decided to channel their focus on platforms where the work/results ratio is a bit less frustrating. So we’ve seen more people return to old school blogging, or even focusing on their Instagram feeds a bit more. Some, who have been notably negatively effected (mentally) by working online have taken drastic measures to take a significant break from all type uploading. I did it for a week, as that’s all I could afford to do at my level and position in the industry, in an ideal world I’d take an indefinite break if I’m honest. Lily Pebbles is in a fortunate position where she could take a month off and I think anyone who can follow suit, definitely should if they feel it’s getting them down or stressed to an unhealthy level. It’s so positive to see someone acknowledge how they’re feeling and how their lifestyle/career is effecting their mental health and then being proactive about it. If you’ve watched her 31 days offline video you will see how positive and restorative it was for her, and will likely be for most people.
It’s the little things: I’ve been off antidepressants this year, and I’m not going to lie, it’s been incredibly hard and I’m not sure it’s actually been a sensible decision on my part. What I’ve realised this year in particular, is that can be the smallest of things to trigger and severe downturn in my mental health, and similarly it can be a very small thing to make a positive difference to my days too.
It was actually a YouTube comment that challenged my integrity that caused one of my biggest slumps this year. I was sobbing uncontrollably, almost wailing, and more than a few times uttered that I didn’t want to be here anymore. It’s never just this one event which causes the big shift but more what it represents. In this case this comment signified, in that moment at least – that I can’t do anything right. I’m a rubbish human. I’m weak for getting upset and being effected by it. I’ve wasted so many years in an industry that’s clearly not suited to my personality. That I focus too much on the negative. That my painful honesty has been worthless and needlessly shared. That people clearly don’t know who I am if they could think that of me. That I’m being punished for being open.You get the idea. I felt to totality of who I am had been judged as well, crap. And because it was done publicly I had humiliation dolloped on top. Not a great recipe for someone lacking self esteem to start with.
On a more positive note though this year I realised how much little gestures and moments can lift you up and restore some hope. When I subscriber sent a care package all the way from Florida, or when another sent me some money for my Birthday – of course not necessary or even something I’d advise, but it meant the world that they wanted to make those kind gestures to little old grumpy me. Then there’s the random texts from friends checking in on your for no other reason than just to let you know they care. When a brand chooses to work with you again despite your videos getting the least views out of all the influencers on the campaign because they liked your content. When I said I was stepping back from interviews, a PR saying that it was a shame because all her bands love doing interviews with me. When you think you’re rubbish at everything and that everyone probably hates talking to you, little comments like that warm the cockles, even if they don’t change your decision.
So moving forward what will I do with this information? I will text people to check in on them. I’ll send random messages to tell them they’re doing a great job. I might send random letters or token pressies, everyone loves getting surprise post. I might offer an extra back scratch, or ask someone a question about something I know they love to talk about, even if it bores me senseless. Knowing how much little things made a difference to myself I have to make sure I do the same for others otherwise I’m not living and learning. But in terms of my own personal growth I really need to try and find a way that won’t allow those negatives to impact me in such a heavy and potentially life threatening way. Any help on this one would be much appreciated!!
Time goes crazy fast. I’ve become one of those annoying old people that is constantly say ‘How time flies’, and, ‘Where has this year gone’. I’ve also started saying cripes and blimey more, but that’s probably just because Ive always been horrendously uncool. But with how fast the months disappear it’s clear that if you want to get shit done you have to maintain a very high level of motivation or your to-do list simply won’t get done. If I’m honest I’ve not even made a dent on the list of goals, actions, activities I wanted to get through in 2017. So I urge you youngans to listen to your parents when they say how quick the years go by, they’re annoyingly right again. So the realisation that 2017 blasted by faster than 2016, I’m going to make more realistic goals for 2018, but also remind myself that plans can only be a guide, you never know what’s going to happen to add unexpected obstacles or distractions.
It’s the things that you don’t worry about. Unfortunately this year’s most notable punctuations came in the form of untimely and tragic deaths, or news of sad diagnosis. It really has been a relentless stream of devastating news for my friends and family this year, so much so that we’ve been consumed with sadness, but also constant worry for those left behind struggling to come to terms with what’s happened. Of course losing people is always sad, but when it comes as a complete shock or out of natures typical order it stings in a different way. You can’t help but feel unsettled, because you can’t help but wonder what’s going to happen next considering you weren’t able to predict what’s already happened. It definitely brings a new angle of anxiety to every phone call or Whatsapp message you get, thats for sure. So like I said before, there’s some things you can’t plan for, so you have to be prepared to adapt. I had to turn down some huge TV work opportunities because they clashed with these sad life events, but maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. You just gotta keep doing your thing best you can, and deal with things as when they happen. Try not to worry about the what ifs and the could be’s, because life will throw you enough to actually worry about, it’s just silly to be feel restricted by things that probably won’t happen, or things that wouldn’t even be that bad if they did.
My Hair doesn’t need to define me. Cutting my hair was sooooo liberating and probably the best decision I’ve made all year. For years I’ve dealt with friends and boyfriends saying what they think I should or shouldn’t do with my hair. I’ve listened and allowed their words to dictate what length or colour I’ve had for the last decade at least because I’m a people pleaser or lack confidence in my own decisions. When I said I was thinking about cutting my hair before this chop I was flooded with DM’s, messages and comments saying phrases basically saying ‘DONT TO IT’ proving that even strangers had an opinion on it. Don’t get me wrong I love long hair too, and I love that you can do so much with it, that it covers your nipples when you’re in the nuddy, and that it keeps you warm on summer evenings when you realise you should have brought a jacket. But my hair isn’t the type that dries perfectly straight, nor perfectly beachy wavey. It requires lengthy blow drying, then taming with GHD’s. With hair as thick as mine, this is no small feat. I had gotten tired of having to factor in time to care for my hair, time that I’d much rather spend on trying to earn some money or focusing on much needed rest and recuperation. I hated that I’d have to use energy that could have been applied to draw or write a blog post. What I’m saying is this was an action of Self Care, and one with longevity. But a family member currently losing their hair through chemo will also serve as a reminder that hair shouldn’t be taken for granted, nor relied upon.
This also leads on to my next point….
The less emphasis I put on looks the happier I am. This year I spent the least amount on clothes than I have for many years. Of course I had a few whims and splurges but then’s been far less occasions when I’ve sought out that temporary high of shopping by popping into Primark or wafting my curser over ASOS or Missguided. I have also spent a lot of my time in largely comfortable clothing too, opting for baggy trousers instead of chafing skinny jeans, while choosing DM’s and trainers over any shoes that deliver blisters or burning balls. I somehow feel less insecure about how I look, despite the fact my body is in the worst shape it’s ever been and that I’m acquiring a new wrinkle everyday. .I don’t like what I see any more than I did before, but I simply care less about the fact that I don’t think much of what I see….if you get what I mean. It just doesn’t feel that important, maybe that’s due to the levelling and priority shifting that death causes you to have, or maybe that’s a welcome part of ageing and feeling comfortable. Of course it’s normal to feel good in an outfit you feel suits you or makes your body look its best, and having a good hair or skin day makes you feel lovely, but I guess my pursuit of beauty is just a bit more relaxed these days. A lot of my younger, absolutely stunning friends, some of who are even models, are desperately unhappy so it’s about time we stopped associating stereotypical beauty with confidence and happiness. Quite often there is no correlation. We need to go a bit deeper.
I rely on Travel to keep going. I’ve been truly spoiled in my life, being the the position to go on a proper summer holiday most years. This luxurious position has meant that I’ve become accustomed to it though, meaning my body and mental clock almost expects it as part of my yearly schedule alongside birthdays, Christmas, etc. This year my finances made it very irresponsible if not impossible to go on a proper holiday, and as Si had taken time off from work for a surprise trip to LA to see Ben, it was also difficult to justify taking more time away from our jobs. I felt completely bereft having not had my usual dose of escapism and Vitamin D. It made me realise how much I reply on holidays as an event to keep me going throughout the year. Something to look forward to, a change of scene and a departure from stress – something to live for. Sounds dramatic, but that’s how it felt this year, on my darkest hours I really struggled to find something to keep going for in absence of a sun drenched holiday. I’ve always been like a different species in sunny weather, I feel more energised and optimistic, and even though it’s a small window of positivity, knowing I can get to that place is important and something it’s useful to remind myself of. I plan to ensure I put away some money so that I can get away next year, but I actually think what I should take away from this is that I need to find other ways to achieve that level of happiness and serenity – I shouldn’t have to rely on fleeing the country to achieve it. After-all not all of us are blessed in having situations that allow us to go on holidays regularly, but that shouldn’t make us resigned to being miserable.
I don’t need Drama.I found myself distancing myself from a lot of needless things things year for the sake of my sanity and happiness, one of them being drama, or more importantly the people that seem to attract and revel in it. I know people who are very nice and who have a good heart, but seem to constantly make decisions, despite a lot of advice pointing them in a different direction, that have a certain inevitability about them. Then there’s the type of people that seem to be constantly falling out with people, causing ructions in other peoples relationships or friendship groups or intentionally doing or saying things they know will create a buzz of the negative or disruptive kind. I find this more prevalent amongst certain groups of friends in London, which is why I’m also spending more time in the relative quiet and peace of Surrey.
I’m not saying I want all my friends to have lives that have no bumps, difficulties or tension, not at all, as mates we will help each other muddle through those. But I don’t want to be around people who seem to get enjoyment from upsetting others, or look for this kind of excitement in their lives.
To truly exit myself from the drama, I have chosen to keep a distance from certain social groups and have even left a lot of WhatsApp groups that seem to like to talk about other people’s lives a bit too much. Yeah it can be fun to gossip from time to time, we are all guilty of that but I’m not sure it’s healthy to have an continuous stream of it coming directly to our palms.
I’m more Country than I thought. I always thought the end goal was to live in house or apartment in London, somewhere picturesque like Notting Hill or artistic like Shoreditch. I now know that I don’t need to be in the thick of it to be content. Sure, I miss out on a lot of socialising because it’s just a bit too far to nip into town for a quick drink or a meal, but I know I definitely don’t want to give up that feeling I get when I’m able to leave London for home at the end of a day of meetings. Th excitement and relief I feel when I head back out to Surrey, knowing I’m leaving the chaos and noise of the city behind tells me all I need to know in terms of where I’ll find contentment in terms of my eventual home. If I was to think primarily about my career I would undoubtedly be in a more convenient position if I lived in London, far more able to go to events/meetings that could propel my career. But this year’s made me realise that other things are more important. It’s those beautiful walks with loved ones in my nearby parks, the giggles at the local pub over a chocolate brownie, and evenings with my parents showing them the latest must see TV shows, that I’ll look back on warmly. I don’t need start studded events with current celebrities to be happy, as fun and glam as they can be. I figure I’ll treasure and appreciate those events even more too, because they’ll be so different from my cosy life outside of London, and increasing that feeling of gratitude is always a good thing.
I need to move out .This is no new epiphany. This is something Si and I have felt for a number of years now. It’s definitely not a choice to be living with my parents at our age, trust me. But this year in particular it’s put a huge strain on our relationship, the frustrations of a lack of privacy and independence causing us to be more grumpy and short tempered than normal, and with only each other for company, both of us taking the brunt of our mutual exasperation. I think it’s because what we thought was a temporary arrangement has started to feel increasingly permanent. The hopelessness of the situation has really gotten to us, as has a shared feeling of failure. Why are we in this position, when some of our friends are able to buy houses? We work hard, what are we doing wrong?? In an effort try instill some faith that things will work out I started looking into places to rent near us. It felt slightly torturous to be basically look at what we can’t have right now, but I enjoyed the pretending for a bit. I also did some sums and worked out what needs to change to get to the point of perhaps being able to consider renting a place, and I realised I’d only need 1 or 2 more sponsored videos a month to be able to make enough to finally do it. When you say it like that it doesn’t seem too crazy a thing to achieve….does it?? Anyway for the sake of our relationship and so we don’t lose out on our adult years completely we really need to find a way to make it happen, that much is clear.
I’m going to conclude this blog post with one of my fave quotes from my OG Ally McBeal….
‘The real truth is, I probably don’t want to be too happy or content. Because, then what? I actually like the quest, the search. That’s the fun. The more lost you are, the more you have to look forward to. What do you know? I’m having a great time and I don’t even know it.’