On top of being long overdue for a personal post, I think it’s something about this week that’s making me take a step back and reflect on what feels like a state of the union for anyone who has actually read my blog for any bit of time. For those of you who know me well, you know that this blog and growing a passion of mine has been something that has made me extremely happy for the past few years. You also know that this past year has been really hard at times and a lot of factors have played into a new challenge of maintaining a lot of work I’ve put into this blog, building relationships in this community, and my full-time career. Well, consider this our fireside chat because I want to share why and what’s been on my mind and heart lately.
Other people are calling this concept the anti-hustle… I’m just calling this “slowing down”.
A year ago this week I met MG (I actually wore this outfit on our first date.. anyone else remember what they wore for important events, too?) and not to sound cheesy or predictable, but ever since that day things haven’t been quite the same for me. I went from a period of time where I had taken a step back from dating, was focused on growing this blog as a business, was freezing in the New York winter, and had really only been here for 6 months to an entirely new and exciting change for me in a lot of ways.
No one ever really talks about what it’s like to have a blog when you’re dating.. but let me tell you… it’s kind of weird. Everyone instantly knows a lot more about you than typical strangers would and there’s a part of your life that you have to invite someone else into (and it’s not exactly normal). Also, blogging has changed a lot. Now in order to keep up with your brand and “aesthetic”, you use social media as a platform for selling, communication and quite simply advertising. Take a step back and think about what Instagram is like for most people. You follow your friends, a few brands that you like, a handful of parody accounts that make you giggle, and that’s about it. You might post once or twice a month (or a week if you’re into it), but never in a million years would you post 4 times a day every day year after year. Not only that, but you’re not private – that’s something anyone who starts a blog knows when you sign up for it, but when you think about it in terms of dating it’s a game changer. I used to never tell my new co-workers or dates about my blog for a while until I actually got to know them. As much as people want to think you don’t judge a book by it’s cover, you mayyyy judge their Instagram account. Fact.
Fast forward into last year… the spring and summer were a whirlwind, but in the most fun and exciting way. MG and I were spending a ton of time together every week, I was meeting his friends and family and introducing him to mine, and it was finally nice outside! Like any warm blooded human when the sun comes out, I just wanted to play (and drink rose). For the first time since I had started my blog it wasn’t just work or something else that was keeping me from being as dedicated as others, it was my life.
If you’ve ever unplugged for even a day you know how liberating it feels to set aside your phone/computer and just be present. I never had the luxury of doing that in my previous jobs – they were pretty close to 24/7 in some way, shape or form. As some things at work started to shift over the summer I was finally able to enjoy a full weekend and not constantly refresh my e-mail or need to hop on a computer. I also know that it’s not something that will probably last forever. Similarly like the first of anything in a new relationship I knew that our first summer was something I would only get once.
So I made a conscious decision to care a little bit less about what I was supposed to be doing to meet X, Y, and Z goals that I had laid out and care all the more about the wonderful things that were happening real time. And the result was so wonderful. You know how nice it is to go on an hour long walk without a mobile device? Or to sit by the pool with a book instead of a laptop? I’m telling you, it changed something inside of me. This constant need to know if people are communicating with me or if I’m missing out on something can be a gigantic distraction from enjoying the moments and people who are currently around you.
I’ll caveat this with the fact that you can’t change a zebra’s stripes. I know I’m sentimental and one of the most nostalgic 20-somethings you’ll encounter, so taking lots of pictures for me is less about the Instagram usually and more about not forgetting things that happened and using them to jog my memory of funny stories weeks and months later. That’ll never change and is something I know about myself. But, there has to be a balance, right? There’s something so wonderful about being in a moment and not needing to capture it for anyone else except yourself – whether it’s in your head or you do need a photo, there’s no pressure to align it with anything other than your happiness.
I strongly believe that there is a way to “have it all”… just not at one time. I read Amy Poehler’s book over the summer during the first 5-day vacation I’ve ever taken (and no I did not go anywhere because I was too exhausted to) and she said something that really stuck with me. She said that women always ask her how shes does it all – TV star, actress, wife, mother, etc. and you know what her response was? I don’t. When my career is going well, my home life is a mess and when I’m being a supermom my editor is yelling at me everyday about how awful my work is. There are always trade-offs.
For me, I can’t sleep at night if I feel like I’m failing my family (even from a distance) or my friends. It can be a quick text or email to say hi, a 5 minute facetime, or a really outrageous Bitmoji. As much as I love this blog and the community I’ve been able to be a part of, it’s a family and friends first scenario in my world (and a new relationship that was very important to me) and this year that’s been the story. That also has meant keeping a balance between having a “personal blog” and keeping some things truly personal. It’s meant not comparing myself and my blog to girls who do this for a living. It’s meant choosing brunch or low-key breakfast at a diner instead of organizing one that everyone Instagrams at, going out all day with friends and not worrying about writing an extra fluffy post that week, drinking my latte as soon as it comes, and having a little more balance between online and offline.
I look at girls who blog full-time (including a lot of girls I’m real life friends with) and I applaud them for their dedication and resilience. It is not easy and takes constant creativity, inspiration, and a lot of hard work to pull off what might be a 60 second or less read for a lot of people day in and day out. I know that there will be times when I feel like I’m crushing it and have been so blessed with incredible opportunities (like being in the May issue of People StyleWatch and getting to work with world renowned brands) and there will be times when I feel like I’m failing my readers and creatively would be better off having a first grader write my posts. The conclusion I’ve come to is that it’s okay – the part of juggling that everyone forgets is that at any given time there’s at least one ball that’s up in the air. It continues to change and as it does you’ll be great in one area of your life and struggle with another. The important thing is to set your own expectations of what “great” and “struggle” are.
This year I changed those definitions for myself and the result has been that I’m more at peace with my day-to-day life than ever before. By taking the time to slow down and savor what’s happening each day, it creates more opportunity for the hustle to happen on its own.
For now, I’m excited with where things are and will happily embrace whatever is to come. Thanks to my dedicated readers for sticking with me and continuing to be a part of the journey!