ME IN THE NEW YEAR: CHANGES

Once again, I’m hardly being a trailblazer with this type of post, but in forcing myself to write it I hope it will lead me to figuring where I want to go and how I want to be in 2018.

Unfortunately, due to not reaching many of the goals I had for last (or the year before that…and the year before that) many of the things I want to achieve in the coming year will be a repetition of previous posts, but perhaps the way I approach will be a little different. After-all the famous quote says “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.

Firstly, I am going to stop chasing the same things that bloggers much younger than me are after. I think that because I follow lots of younger bloggers, or because they’re in my wider circle due to mutual friends we have, I had convinced myself that their path to success was ‘THE WAY’ when really I should have been looking to people in a similar demographic, in similar stages of life, or most importantly those with a similar POV or interests. I imagine these sources of inspiration are more likely to lead me to having some sort of career and blogging comfort. I’m not saying that you necessarily need to dress older, or behave differently when you reach my age, but I want to ensure what I put out there genuinely reflects where I’m at and what I like- while in turn avoiding any mutton dressed as lamb moments hopefully.

In terms of fashion in the last couple of years I’ve definitely diluted the level of ‘alt’ in the way I dress. You guys know I already find fault with the word ‘Alternative’, I wrote a whole blog post on it for gods sake, but I’ll avoid ranting about that again. It’s not that I don’t like rock or metal anymore, in fact I probably listen to more than ever, but I think I’ve just gotten increasingly more comfortable with embracing other styles of clothes I’m drawn to, and I don’t feel a pressure to always reflect my musical tastes and persuasions in the way I dress. Why make it easy for people to plonk me in a neat pigeon hole? I’m not saying I won’t ever put together outfits with rock tees, black lipstick, or anything else deemed edgy, not at all, but it will be when I WANT TO, because that’s what I’m feeling that day. I’m always very mood-led in the way I dress, so there’s definitely going to be some rocky and dark style days in my year ahead.

One thing that’s glaringly obvious from observing others is I need to get better at self promotion. I’m so awful at it I’ve even kept some of my TV appearances from this year completely secret. I see how some other bloggers post on social media, taking every opportunity to enhance or push their person brand (no shade, I marvel at it, and wish I could be proud of myself) and it makes me realise how useless I am at it. This is something I’m going to blog in depth soon. But I need to worry less about fearing that people will think I’m bragging, or even worse humble bragging, and showcase the things I’m doing or the things I’ve achieved with more oomph and enthusiasm. I have a feeling this will be one of the hardest changes for me.

I hope that this has translated already via my tweets and videos, but I’ve made a real effort to change my mindset in recent months. In the last few years I felt trapped in a negative and cynical space. I’ve been resentful and self pitying, and probably shown more of my negative personality traits than I should or would want to – particularly on social media. In the last part of this year I’ve tried to give more people the benefit of the doubt (or simply let them get on with it and not let their irksome behaviour bother me as much), and when I’ve felt negative emotions rise up inside I’ve taken a moment to decide how I’m going to deal with them. I’ve been thinking more carefully before I tweet, and asking myself will I regret it? Will it make me feel bad a bit later? Is it contributing anything helpful to the feed? I’m not saying I haven’t or won’t post tweets that are sad, troubled, stressed etc – I don’t want to censor what is my real everyday life – but I hope the overall tone will be more and more balanced as I progress into 2018. Not only is it going to make me a much more uplifting person to follow, if the law of attraction is a real thing, it may mean I have less to moan about anyway!

This year I’ve felt guilty about not being able to be the optimum friend for my existing and long time friends mates due to a combination of ill health, a crazy work schedule, trying to maintain a relationship, self care efforts, and lack of funds. Due to this consistent feeling in gut that Ive been a crappy pal, I made a conscious decision to distance myself from opportunities to make new friends or from nurturing many of my recently made friends. I didn’t want to add more people into the mix when I knew I was already unable to make sure the current people in my life felt cherished. So while I’m not planning to become part of an intimidating large blogger clique I’d like to have some quality one-on-one meet ups with more people. So in keeping with that, I hope to do some more collabs on my channel in the new year. I don’t care how many subs you have, but if you’d like to film something and can think of something that make sense for us to film together, because we have a shared interest or subject of conversation that links us in some way, do get in touch and let’s get something in the diary. The only issue is that I can’t have guests where I live so we’d have to film at yours, so location may be a deciding factor. But hope to hear from some of you soon!

I may be stepping back from the music industry a bit more in the coming year (unless great things come my way naturally and organically). I originally liked the fact that there were interviews and such on my channel,  it gave me a USP as there wasn’t much of that content contributed by bloggers and YouTubers at the time, it was mainly journalists and magazine uploading that form of content. But I never want to put out content that is already there, so in light of many more people doing this sort of content ( the fab Alicia, Tori, Jon, Zoe, Amy), some with similar subject matters, it seems pointless for me to keep doing it, or at least focus heavily on it like I once did. Perhaps this is a sign it’s my time to move on. Also, with problematic stuff surfacing about bands all the time at the moment it’s also become an area of extreme triggering for me. Anyone that’s personally gone through anything that could have mentioned during the #metoo outpouring will relate to how emotionally draining the past months have been, particularly if you have a job that means you have to be on social media a lot. I also can’t help but worry that I’ll be inadvertently promoting and endorsing a band that may well end up being ‘cancelled’. I need to figure out what to do music content wise that won’t make me feel uneasy, that will be unique to my channel, and not stress me out too much. Maybe a return of my Sophie’s shuffle playlist videos….although at the moment I’m just rinsing the same songs over and over so it wouldn’t make for a very entertaining series. From a business angle though, even when you get paid presenting work within music it’s always very poorly paid, so if I am to have my sensible adult hat on I should be putting my focus elsewhere for now, and perhaps try and look at music how I did as a teen – a place for escapism and for finding voices and words that make me feel safer, happier, or understood.

This leads me on to focus – channeling my time and energy into the right things. I touched upon this briefly in my previous post about smaller bloggers, but in short it’s working out where and when it’s worthwhile to graft and do unpaid work, and being able to recognise what type of opportunities are actually going to strengthen or progress your career in some way. This may mean turning down some really fun things, because I want to ensure I have time and energy left to work on the useful things that will contribute to me being able to achieve the adult life I so long for. I really want to put more time and love into my art next year and expand on the products I have for sale. I have some greetings cards on route from the printers and I am currently talking to a place that do vegan t-shirt printing to see if this is a viable option for the new year. I may even try and muster up the confidence to approach cafes and local businesses to see if I can offer them to products to display or sell. Si is constantly telling me I’m spreading myself too thin and as a result not giving myself the opportunity to nail anything. Although harsh I know he’s right.

So in keeping with this theme I will also take the less is more approach in some areas.I used to upload 5-7 times a week, but the last few months I’ve been doing 1 or 2 a week. I’ve found this so beneficial in terms of my feelings towards making videos. It’s also saved me from unnecessary burn-out, and surprisingly actually benefitted my sub count ( even though it still is depressingly slow). There’s  so many creators now, some uploading every day, there’s always something for people to watch, so it really isn’t integral to post that often to achieve growth or maintain a loyal fanbase if you don’t want to. I have friends that upload even less than me and they are growing way faster than others uploading daily, with the massive bonus that they still manage to have an enviable life/work balance and time to create videos they’re really happy with.

Lifestyle content next. Well, this very much depends on how things go and whether I can finally move out of my family home. I’ll tell you this much now though – if and when I do move into my own place I can assure you that about 80% of my content will be homeware hauls, decorating videos, DIY vlogs. I’m fully in the nesting zone already, even if I don’t have enough of the twigs and kindling yet. I love this sort of material, it taps into the homely and cosy side of my personality, but also my creative side. So if I can find content ideas that are applicable to my particular situation, I’d like to create more of that (ideas welcome). By the way if the above does happen I will also probably be the most happy and grateful person on YouTuber ever. For the time-being I’ll live this dream out via Megan, Zoe, Lily etc.

I want to talk about how my lifestyle is leaning close and closer to veganism too, but in a way that isn’t judgemental of those who haven’t made any changes yet. I think the aggressive approach to raising awareness of veganism (and the reasons behind the lifestyle choice) have turned many people off what is a positive movement for the environment. Rather than blast people unfairly, calling them selfish, cruel or misinformed, I want to talk openly about why it can be far more difficult for some people. I want to explore why for people with eating disorders, mobility issues, intolerances and mental health this may be a tricky/lengthy/impossible transition. Open and non judgemental conversations like this can only help, and I always want my channel to be a place where people feel relaxed to be themselves, ask questions and share.

I’m a bit torn about the changes I want to make in regards to my honest vlogs, or uploads regarding mental/physical health and life issues. Aside from referring occasionally to my personal issues in my weekly vlogs you may have noticed I’ve reigned in that part of my channel. What many don’t realise is that in doing these videos you put yourself in a position of responsibility and reliance. People will expect you to be there to offer and advice and comfort at whatever time they require it, they also expect you to have the answers – which I often don’t. The pressure of this got way too much for me, as did the constant worry I was going to say/do the wrong and lead someone down a potentially dangerous path. If you suffer with your own health issues, its so important you have enough emotional energy set aside to keep yourself going, if all that energy is channelled into strangers online you may/will probably find yourself struggling. I also feel that many things that I used to feel compelled to talk about, because at that time it necessary to raise of awareness of them, are now talked about frequently and publicly (which is great), so there’s no need for me to simply regurgitate. I don’t want to repeat things that I’ve already covered, nor talk about certain things because they’re trending or tapping into that relatable content popularity. So there will be changes here, but I’m not sure what form they’ll take yet. I do enjoy helping people and being that big sister figure, but I need to make sure I’m doing it in a way that won’t damage my own health, or useless in terms of adding anything valuable to the ongoing conversation.

I’ve seen a lot of other YouTubers and blogger’s do this in 2017 and it’s ignited a fire in my belly that has actually never really existed before. Despite it being a long standing opinion that if you put yourself on YouTube you have to put up with and accept comments however tactless, thoughtless, cruel, intrusive, confidence shattering, more and more creaters are taking a stand. This doesn’t make them ungrateful, entitled, over-sensitive, this just means they are finally utilising their own right of free speech and quite rightly defending themselves against the needless negativity (while trying to do their part in changing this toxic culture that seems to have intensified in the last year). I’ve never pressed block or mute, because I’ve always been scared that I’d be deemed weak, or worse, that they’d still say horrible things but I’d just be oblivious to it (which makes me feel very uncomfortable). In 2018 rather than putting up and shutting up, I will do whatever I need to do reduce the bad toxins infiltrating my online life.

I’ve been told I need to stand up for myself a bit better with people in my real life too. This year I’ve had a few people take advantage of me again, or people who have been insensitive to my feelings, all of whom have got away with it completely scot free because I hate confrontation and awkward conversation (this includes family members, colleagues, friends and internet strangers). I’ve got used to this happening and kinda just think of it as a normal part of life, but others observing these moments taking place have become angry on my behalf and urged me to change my ways in the new year. In 2018, I’ve been encouraged to let people know it’s not okay to waste my time, take advantage of my willingness to help, make me feel bad for things I shouldn’t feel bad for, or dismiss my feelings or point of view. I of course worry that this new stronger Soph might mean that I’m perceived as harsh, stressy, moody, diva-ish, but I have to remind myself that this types of things will only continue to happen if people are lead to believe, from my reaction to them, that it’s ok to treat me like that.

Another thing I’ve been doing this year which I hope to build on and continue in 2018 is making sure my days feature quiet kindnesses. As phoebe said in Friends there’s no such thing as a selfless good deed, and while she’s kinda right (it really does make you feel better about yourself) this doesn’t mean we should use this as an excuse not to being doing them. The point I want to make here is that it can mean so much more to people you help if you don’t post everywhere that you did it, these things should punctuate our day anyway, and should seem so normal they don’t even come to mind as a tweetable event. Do these things under the radar, even in secret, make the result of doing it the fuel, not what the reaction you get for telling people you’ve done it. I’ve been making a point of only posting these type ‘kind’ actions on social media if it’s raising awareness for a great cause/charity, which will hopefully lead to more people getting involved.

Till this year I had no idea how integral escaping for a week or two during the year was to my ability to keep going. I felt so sad for the majority of the summer knowing there was very little hope of escaping my intensely stressful living situation at home. I’ve also always been someone that thrives in sunshine, so I felt intensely bereft and malnourished for lack of it. So I want to put myself in a position where this kind of stagnant state isn’t possible again, so I am planning on putting money aside each month – a holiday fund if you will. I might have to sacrifice a few meals out or some unnecessary clothing purchases to make it happen, but I know that it is definitely worth it for my overall happiness throughout 2018.

So there’s just a few changes for 2018. In short, I want to be more bitching and badass, value and use my time better, be kinder, be prouder…..and hopefully change my address.

Tell me some of your work/life changes in the comments, I’d love to hear.

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