Last week I threw together a last-minute blog post about why I was taking a week off work (kind of ironic, taking a week off and the first thing I do is think OH HECK I’M INSPIRED TO ACTUALLY WRITE! But I’m all about rolling with the inspo when it comes naturally…) and how it’s possible to take time off from a job that pretty much requires you posting to social media constantly, lest you lose your blessed traction and fall off the social media radar and you know, die. And quite frankly, I couldn’t feel better right now.
I wrote about how you have to define what a week off means for you: and for me it still meant posting twice a day on Instagram, meeting up with Gemma twice a week for shooting, and okay, it even meant that I kept one work-related meeting in my diary and I did get up at 6am to shoot some outfit photos with Carl before an 8:45 Kobox class. BUT that was about it. I trained six days last week (recently, working out, and especially boxing, has completely become my therapy and escapism from stress), I went for dinner and drinks with work people (which was kind of a work thing, in a way, but not really – it was way more social…) which turned into a bit of a random night out. I went on a date. I ate a McDonalds, a roast, Dominos AND Dirty Burger (within 24 hours lol) I didn’t force myself to do any YouTube videos or Instagram Stories that felt unnatural to my emotions at the time, because I don’t want to pretend to be happy when I had been struggling, I didn’t reply to any email that I didn’t need to because my Out of Office was ON. And I spent a lot of my weekend watching series 2 of Queer Eye. Actual bliss. The pace was much slower, I was taking time to enjoy doing what I wanted to do, rather doing what I felt like I had to do, and do you know what? It made me enjoy all of my work-related activities way more. It made me appreciate how truly incredible my job can be when I get the balance right.
Slowing the pace down has changed everything, and it had me thinking hugely about success. What is success for you? What is success for me? The first half of the year for me shifted my success gage to being purely on social growth and earnings. They’re both ways of qualifying success via numbers, but if you’re constantly doing it based on the figures, it takes out all of the fun, excitement and creativity that made you fall in love with your job. It turns it purely into a business machine – clinical, somewhat forced and false. And hey, we’re in June, and I’ve spent 6 months feeling shitty for being focused on numbers when I know I’m a creative soul – girl gotta feed her soul instead.
I noticed that there’s also this insane pressure to LOOK busy. It’s in every career. It makes you look important, in demand, and popular. “Oooh she’s so busy all of the time it must mean she’s doing so well for being so in demand!” It’s the jet-set, live fast/die young, work hard/play hard mentality and it makes you look like you’re living your best life – and everyone else’s. It’s the whole conversation of
them: “how have you been?”
me: “oh, so sooo busy”
them: “but busy is good!”
Erm, no Susan, what would be good is having a proper night’s sleep, turning my damn phone off for 5 days without worrying I’ll lose followers, and gorging on a whole Victoria Sponge cake without feeling this weird pressure to capture the lols on social or take a #goals photo with it.
Let’s face it – who looks like they’re having a better life? The person jetting across town in Uber’s between meetings and showroom appointments, dinners, lunches, PT appointments, glitzy events at glamorous bars, and photo shoots, or the girl sitting at home in her PJs with her laptop on her knees? Who seem’s more exciting? Who is living the dream here? I’m regularly both, to be honest (as my Instagram stories probably tell you…), but I’ve actually found myself falling more into the former category, and I’m telling you it can just be exhausting.
I can’t help thinking that the way we view this can push us into a bad territory. If anything, the busier I am, the less successful I am – it means my head is often all over the place. I forget things. I’m exhausted and I can’t even talk to people – case in point: last week at the Blogosphere Magazine awards last week I struggled to string a sentence together because I felt so completely drained so sorry in advance if you were there and we spoke and I seemed a bit off. We fetishise and glamorise being busy like it means so much more than exhaustion, stress, and pressure – like it means that we’ve *MADE IT!*
For me, an element of pressure usually helps me to perform better in my job. But when the pressure gets too much, I buckle under it and bury my head in the sand and I freak out internally and it makes everything worse. I know a lot of the pressure I feel is self-imposed, but that’s the nature of self-employment. Piling on the pressure on can sometimes turn the freedom that comes from being your own boss into a jacket made of lead, weighing you down as the water begins to rise all around you. It can be totally drowning. And it can make it easy to forget that I’m doing my dream job, and it starts to sap the enjoyment from it.
I’ve written before about the struggle of finding work/ life balance as an influencer, but I think I’ve finally began to start cracking it. There’s a lot of talk online about people putting out false lifestyles out on the internet, and I’ve always strongly fought against any suggestion from others that my life online is that far from the truth of it (albeit, yes, a glossier version) but recently it had become a little bit of a lie. All of these photos of me smiling in v chic outfits, where inside I felt like I was falling apart, were a pretty far cry from the reality of how I felt when forcing myself to take them. How is that success? Taking some time off made me realise the importance in recharging. Re-evaluate what I want to do, instead of what I think I should be doing. Yes I love the busy lifestyle – sometimes. But I love being the girl in her PJs having a nap. I love being a social butterfly and getting dressed up to go to events. But I also love coming home to an empty flat where I can lie on my sofa naked in the quiet and not have to talk to anyone. I can’t be one or the other all of the time – I have to get the balance right.
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, under pressure to constantly keep up with everyone else, do not be afraid to take your foot off the pedal. Success is what you define it as – and maybe you just need to redefine it for yourself.
Photography taken back in Paris in March, by Allie // rush & teal