Stuck between I don’t know, I don’t care and I don’t give a fuck! What a fabulous and totally appropriate T-shirt for today’s blogpost ey?
There are many perks to working for yourself in your twenties such as the freedom, both literally and creatively, the pride of creating a world for yourself and of course, in my case doing something I completely and utterly love.
But having faced a number of the downsides to being self employed all at once recently and having come out the other side I thought it would be beneficial to discuss this instead, as I am yet to see anything of this nature written online by someone in a similar position as I and I think it just might help a bit.
Discussing the downside to being your own boss and running your own businesses in your twenties is something I’ve wanted to chat about for a while. It’s a tricky subject to tackle as I am so grateful and so proud to have created this job for myself and I truly, truly love what I do. However, I think it’s important to show the downsides to life; the things that make us all human and I guess the things that go unspoken in this world of social media.
I often worry about these types of posts because it is now SO easy to offend someone these days, even by simply talking about the way I feel. I’m sure some negative Nelly will leave this blogpost having only taken away the fact that they feel I am “ungrateful” or “moaning” but they’re not the people I’m talking to, they never have been and they never will be.
The people I’m talking to in this blogpost are those that have supported me from the beginning, or even those that have only just started supporting me, but who have been there for me through the ups and the downs. I am very much a normal 26 year old Northern gal, who just so happens to be on social media and just so happens to work for herself. It’s taken a lot of hard work to get here and more recently a little knock to my mental health so I think it’s important to share this with you and to also act as a little bit of therapy for me too, ‘cause we all know how good it feels to talk! If you’re feeling at all down, lost or completely messed up, please know you’re not alone. Talk to somebody whether it’s me (my emails and DM’s are always open) or even better a close friend or family member. A problem shared is a problem halved after all!
So, six and a half years and a heck load of work, into this rather strange yet totally wonderful career online and just when I thought I had the whole thing sussed, something shifted and I began to spiral out of control a wee bit. Now I’m not being dramatic here but I really did change a little. Something inside my head altered and I was no longer the positive, proactive and driven person that I had always been. I began to doubt everything I wrote and shared, I doubted what I was wearing and I had a panic attack in the middle of a busy dance floor…
That was one of the scariest moments of my life and I actually can’t believe I’m writing this here. My mum’s not going to be happy with me for sharing this one, but if it helps just one of you then I’ll be glad I did share after all.
After my major blip on the dance floor I raced to my parents house at midnight and cried my eyes out for no reason whatsoever. I proclaimed that I’d lost myself, I didn’t want to do this anymore and that I wanted to hide away from the judgemental eyes of viewers and followers.
You see, when you read nasty and fabricated things about yourself online, despite how many or how few there may be, you start to believe them. You start to think that everyone else thinks that, and you inevitably lose yourself to the negativity.
Until this moment back in January I’d been able to brush off the negativity (after having a sulk about it for a day or two) but it was the moment I felt that I didn’t know what to wear in a morning that I knew that I’d lost myself well and truly. Styling myself was always something I was so confident in, even when everything else seemed so uncertain. I knew who I was style wise and I used clothing as an armour against the world or as a persona I wanted to create that day- the minute that faltered I knew it was bad.
After a period ov moping in my own self pity, I decided to take ownership of myself again. I sorted out my wardrobe, I added a new piece or two that really sparked joy within me and I brainstormed what it was that I was good at and what it was that I enjoyed doing.
Doing all of the above and sadly going through the tougher times of being self employed through being online made me realise how important it is to feel inspired in your work, no matter how that translates in your industry, I am a fashion content creator so like it or not I need to have some of the newness that is out there in order to style, write and inspire you guys, I can only hope that it allows you to make better and more meaningful purchases going forward.
Unfortunately negativity in this way comes part and parcel with a lot of jobs that are perhaps a little newer in the grand scheme of things or jobs that not everybody understands. It’s the way we as the individual deal with it that makes a difference and from here on out I’m trying to find that inner sass in order to turn the other cheek to such bad vibes.
I’ve heard this term a lot lately and it seems that sadly a lot of online creators are feeling this way; a telling sign of what negativity online, and I guess just working online entirely, can do to our self worth and our mental health. But it’s not just working online, this seems to be happening across a whole host of job roles; I think it’s a rather millennial issue that a lot of us are trying to deal with which is really rather sad.
I never really understood the meaning of Imposter Syndrome until this year when I felt guilty about something I’ve dreamt about all my life potentially happening. I’m still unable to feel proud or get excited about this prospect and it’s really quite sad. I know deep down that this is an incredible achievement but my stupid brain won’t allow me to realise that I’ve earnt it. Instead I feel guilty and not worthy of such a thing and the thought of actually telling people about said achievement is terrifying to me… Go figure!
I would love to be able to tell you exactly how I’ve worked to over come this one but the truth is that it's still a work in progress, something I’m trying to deal with and work out through time. I’m sure/I hope when said “exciting prospect” actually happens that I’ll be able to enjoy it for what it is but until then imposter syndrome is very much a part of my day-to-day life.
Ahhh that age old problem of nailing the work:life ratio. Something I was convinced I had nailed but something I’m realising, with time, comes in waves. Sometimes it’s level, other times it isn’t and that’s just life. However, it doesn’t stop it becoming a bit of an issue at times.
When I first took my blog into full time territory I had this down to a fine art. I loved being able to take the morning or afternoon off to enjoy the perks of being self employed. And if I wanted to take the day off to enjoy some time with George, friends, family or just for me then I’d do it, safe in the knowledge that this was what I’d worked so hard for and that I deserved it. I was confident in my routine and confident enough in my work to allow myself to revel in working for myself.
Fast forward four years and the guilt mentioned in the previous section is rife here too. I feel SO damn guilty when I’m having an off day, when I’m lacking in inspiration for blogposts and videos and when I’m in a CBA mood for even getting myself ready in a morning. The guilt is real, and due to this guilt my productivity gets a whole lot worse. But instead of allowing myself to feel this way and getting out of the house to do life errands instead of work errands, I beat myself up, which is absolutely not the way to tackle these feelings.
In the past few weeks I’ve tried to take the steps to regain the confidence and enjoyment I once had for being self employed. I’ve allowed myself to take the afternoon off in order to take my Nanna out for lunch, something I love doing and something I know makes a huge difference to her week too. I’m spending mornings with my cousins and their babies and I’m clocking off early to grab a glass of wine with friends and I can slowly feel my mojo creeping back in and it’s fab.
Being able to work for yourself is a luxury that not everyone has and I know that I should enjoy it while it lasts ‘cause it might not be the case forever. I’m also learning that taking the time away from my work actually helps in the long run, it provides more interesting Instagram Stories or vlog footage, it takes me away from a non-starter idea and works to give me the inspiration I need, and it of course does wonders for my happiness.
Learning to switch off is key for all kinds of jobs, there’s no point dwelling on what you could be doing, if you’re not feeling it then step away, take a breather and come back to it tomorrow. Work will always (hopefully) be there and in the grand scheme of things, is it really as important as taking your Nan out for pizza?
The Future Is Uncertain
Speaking of work hopefully always being there, it’s a struggle to know where this career in particular is headed. I certainly believe that social media will develop and grow and there will always be room for us online, however it’s a scary thought doing this forever, particularly when it comes to self worth and mental health. I think it’s important with any job to have your fingers in many pies, similarly to me with my blog and online world, and then of course with my clothing brand Saturday. I also have other things in the background that I don’t share online that act as creative outlets in case I want to move onto something else entirely. It’s a scary thing not knowing what the future holds, particularly with a job that didn’t exist past 10 years ago, but I just need to remember that no job is certain, the future is scary for everyone no matter what they do and we’re all in this world of uncertainty together.
And here I am, writing this section two week’s after writing the rest of this post, having had a bad day for comparing myself to others. I know it’s bad, I know comparison is the thief of joy and I know it doesn’t do me any damn good, but yet here I am on my very rare but very much there comparison spree.
Comparison is of course a part of every type of job out there, there is always someone you look to who might be doing a little better, working a little faster or succeeding a little louder, but it’s important to not allow this to affect us negatively. Don’t let what other people are doing ruin the way you see yourself (easier said than done I know) we’re all doing our thing in our way and in our own time and whilst it’s normal to compare from time to time, as long as it’s utilised in a way to spur you on to be better then unfortunately it’s something that simply comes with being human.
If I’m feeling less of a human, I try to think of 4 things that I am grateful for and as hippy dippy as that sounds, it always makes me realise exactly what I’ve got and brings me crashing back to earth with one almighty “GET A GRIP!” Try it, I’m telling you it works!
Tracking Data and The End Is Near (Of this blogpost I mean)
And so there we have it, the worlds longest blogpost (sorry!) But clearly I had a lot to get off my chest and whilst I’m sure these ups and downs will come and go it feels good to have written the feelings I’ve been struggling to process for so long down onto my very own blog, something I am extremely proud to own.
Sometimes working for yourself isn’t all it’s cracked up to be; Yes of course it’s fabulous at times and I feel so lucky to do what I love every single day, but it’s more the things it does to your mind and your self worth that are harder to understand. Not to mention it can often feel quite lonely doing this kind of job, so getting out and away from work is something we must try and do more of.
In order to try and tackle all of the above to the best I can I’ve resorted to tracking my own data, sounds weird but hear me out…
I listened to one of Emma Gannon’s podcasts lately, with Wah Nails founder Sharmadean Reid, where she discussed how important it was to track your own data in order to truly understand yourself, makes sense right! How are we supposed to know why we are feeling this way if we don’t have a little log on when we last felt it.
I know that when I’m down for no apparent reason and of course when my boobs ache, that my period is imminent. However, when I’m angry and unmotivated for no reason I can’t understand it and therefore punish myself for feeling this way which does no good for anything, especially not for my productivity. So instead I’m noting in my calendar when I’m feeling this way, so I can look back on it next time I feel that way to see if there is any correlation. Perhaps I had a night out the evening before, maybe I ate too many carbs, didn’t drink enough water, or maybe it’s a certain month of the year that brings me down, tracking this kind of data can only be useful in learning to understand who you are, what you need and how to get it.
For example, I feel extremely low throughout January and February, I mean, who doesn’t, but this has been a reoccurring theme for the last few years. Christmas is over, the festivities, parties and get-togethers are over, we’re back to work. But for me, work is very quiet and rationally (or deffo not) I feel like my career is over…
It’s been this way for the past three years at least, so next year, rather than revelling in my own misery and lack of worth, I’m going to ensure that I have a holiday booked for the end of January in order to stop this cycle from continuing, sounds great ey!
We all have down times, slow times and moments of doubt, it’s totally normal, it’s talking about it and sharing these moments with one another that make it better for you and for everyone else. We all need to know that we’re not alone in our thoughts and our feelings so we can help one another through it. So thats why I’ve written this post today and I hope it helps even just one of you to know that we’re all the same whether we work for ourselves or not, and that it feels better to talk, or in my case to write.