It’s a strange old world this blogging stuff. I love having a creative outlet, especially one where I can share photos – probably the part of blogging I love most, but from time to time, there’s so many external politics in blogging. For those not in the know, there was a recent ‘scandal’ within the blogging community whereby one of the company’s providing themes to numerous bloggers allegedly installed some ‘other stuff’ (I have no idea about the technical complexities behind this) behind the scenes. I checked my Domain Authority (I have no idea about the technical complexities behind this) and saw that my meagre 20, had dropped six points to 14. Great. I didn’t know much about the inner workings of these things, just that They Were Not Good, and definitely something to bemoan on my Twitter timeline, alongside everyone else complaining about the same problems.
I put the thought of it on the back burner. I’d idly scroll Twitter here and there, but otherwise I took a slight detour away from the blogging community. A narcissistic voice at the back of my head pointed out that no one noticed.
After a long battle with not knowing how I felt about my job I decided to throw myself into it head first. This meant I was largely on a first-in-last-out policy in my office. With a commute an hour each way, it didn’t leave much room for friends to understand my desire for a largely hermetic existence. Being good at my job and having the time to see friends became mutually exclusive. Some understood, some didn’t. I worked hard to change my attitude towards work and to force myself to enjoy the complexities in the numerous challenges that kept cropping up; but it was a continuous, conscious effort I had to make. It taught me a lot about the friends I had – those who were willing to stick around as I battled through what to them would seem like a solvable problem “get a new job”, but to me was tied in letting family down, having to return to an industry I’d lost touch with, probably take a step back and on and on.
I didn’t really ever think about my future, a love life was utterly out of the question (not least because I found myself still reeling from a disastrous relationship in 2018 – a handful of friends know about it, every now and then we discuss it and then I put it back in its neat little box as its too sad to do anything else with).
Blogging, I decided, was not really something I enjoyed any more. For everyone who proclaimed they didn’t care about the numbers, they – like me – found themselves thoroughly disheartened by algorithms, domain authority updates, Instagram likes – or lack thereof and so on it went. For something that was allegedly a creative outlet, a ‘space just for me’, it certainly seemed I had a vested interest in what other people thought of it all; I happily participated in commenting pods – where I met some lovely people, but I often questioned the authenticity of them; was I just commenting to receive a comment back? I would spend time pouring over people’s blogs, writing long diatribes of comments, usually only to receive a ‘nice post’ comment in return. I laughed about this with a few other blogger pals.
Between a broken heart, an epically dwindling social life (which was totally my own doing – I’m bloody tired and sometimes I just don’t fancy taking 3 tubes after an hour of driving, but sometimes its more effort to justify the cancellation than it is to just bloody go…), and what felt like a constantly uphill battle to just be good at my job, I found I just didn’t have the drive like before. I had started blogging for validation, and probably chasing it because it was lacking in other area’s of my life.
I couldn’t be sure what it was, but something wasn’t sitting right in my life. Really, I lacked fulfilment. I didn’t have a plan. One of my best girlfriends returned from a two year stint in Australia, and is now travelling South America before deciding whether she’ll live here, or America or maybe somewhere else that takes her fancy. Another one quit her job, air b n b’d her flat, and is busy exploring all the world has to offer. Others have the most clear and steady career trajectories – when their work is stressful, it’s because they’re actually saving lives. Or they’re working on something scientifically groundbreaking. Or dealing with high profile members of the government. Occasionally I just expect one of them to just say ‘Brexit? Oh yeah fixed it mate, no worries.’
…And not that I don’t think I’ve achieved a lot, because I know I worked exceptionally hard to become a director at 27 (my only life goal in my 20s), I’ve always been career driven – but despite the age old trope of ‘comparison being the thief of joy’, I can’t quite say I don’t find myself falling short.
May rolled around and with it, my trip to Turkey – my first taste of sunshine since a solo trip to Sardinia the previous June. For that trip, I had had visions of firmly cementing a group of close-knit friends, WhatsApp groups popping up post-trip, meeting up for a few drinks here and there in London but it became clear that whilst we were all nice people, we weren’t really each other’s people. It also led to an ill-timed holiday fling, the result of which saw me crying in my big sisters garden on my return, wondering when the fuck I was going to start getting this stuff right (spoiler alert: one year on, still no clearer on that).
The trip to Turkey was with one of my closest and newest friends – I met it with some apprehension. It was a boat trip, sailing the Turkish coast line. I continually put it to the back of my mind. I stressed over it fretting to my work girlfriends ‘and I think I have to sleep in a bloody bunk bed..!’. Anxiety reared its ugly head about the whole thing; what if the people on the boat were awful? That was going to be some close quarters living, and my personal favourite, ‘won’t that be brutal if the handful of days you’re taking off work end up being totally shit’. Work ramped up more and more. Turkey anxiety was largely eclipsed by everything-else-anxiety. Then before I knew it, the holiday was here. A grinning Simone met me at the airport. 2 flights later we arrived and holed up in a small, exceptionally chic hotel who true to form with Turkish hospitality, let us stay, have all-you-can-eat-breakfast for the grand total of 6 Lira (8 Lira was £1), and couldn’t do enough to make us feel at home. I remembered what relaxing felt like.
Then came the boat, and the crew. It was a match made in heaven. two girls and one boy, all of whom had done lots of travelling and exploring. We all delighted in how beautiful a place we were in every day. Ate meals together and stayed up playing cards. The girls were completely aspirational – passionate about exercise they reminded me of how good and pure a form of self-care fitness is. Sim as ever reminded me that every day is an opportunity to step into an adventure you didn’t realise you could have. She pushed me to do things I wouldn’t normally do (I mean, I do think she might also be the death of me, but at least I’ll probably die thinking ‘christ, I can’t believe I did that’ / ‘what a great story for my end on this earthly plain’).
Everyone on the boat was on a long stint of travels; they had seen and experienced so much, I found myself eagerly consuming any travel story they had to offer – from terrible hostels, to the most breathtaking experiences the world has to offer. It dawned on me that my life was not where I thought it would be. I don’t want children but I had always thought someone would have been along by now; they weren’t. Had I thought I would be some well-travelled nomad, simultaneously maintaining a high-flying career and glittering social circle? Or maybe, I’d just fallen foul to social media FOMO.
I wondered why I felt so considerably blue after my holiday – surely this wasn’t just a case of holiday blues? My anxiety ramped up alongside it – intrusive thoughts jumped at me, and I desperately tried to find the route cause. It was then I realised that it wasn’t so much one, particular, burning worry, but rather a series of worries about missed opportunities. The people on the boat were amazing; they had been everywhere, and had incredible experiences to share. I wasn’t quite sure my 2008 girls trip to Malia smashing in Kamikaze shots whilst dancing on a bar was quite the right frame of reference when the girls asked me where to go in Greece when they headed there after our trip ended…
So I started to devise a plan. I made a fluid five year plan; something that could roll with the punches but also afford me some travelling. I read Dolly Aldertons Everything I Know About Love in a day, and decided I had to be more open to giving people the benefit of the doubt. No more cutting people off and blocking them (unless of course, they have an unforgivable indiscretion, like say – a live-in girlfriend…).
I contacted someone I’d cut off. Maybe they’ll come around, maybe they won’t. I’ve made a decision not to validate whether or not changing my attitude to be more forgiving is the right decision based on the outcome of a situation; I’ll give the benefit of the doubt, and move on or move with it. I’m going to stop people pleasing; I’ll make a 5 year plan based on what I want out of the next five years, without shortcuts and plan-arounds to accommodate other people, but I’ll always stay kind too. I will be grateful for the adventure of everyday, but realistic that for the next couple of years, life will be the same – possibly a little monotonous; I’ll stop doing myself a disservice by hurrying myself along an imaginary timeline, with milestones only set by me. I will see the world in either small doses or big doses, it will be beautiful whichever way round it comes.
Most importantly, I will stop looking to superficial things for validation; a blog comment is lovely. A text back from the boy you fancy is nice. But it’s a false economy; it’s short-lived. Instead, I will think about how Michaela, in far flung Brazilia has called me continuously throughout her trip to tell me about it, despite being awful at keeping in touch – because she loves me and she wants to share that with me. I’ll think about the fact that Lee, my best friend of nearly 12 years(!) will always sit with me in the evening, listening to my shitty day and reassuring me that I can lose weight but also being wise enough to recognise that wine and chocolate are the cure for that day; how my brother will send me videos of my twin nieces laughing away, just because. Validation doesn’t really come from exchanges; it quietly creeps up on you, in small realisations that the people you love the most want to share the most precious moments of their life with you; I don’t think there’s anything more fulfilling than that.
a small disclaimer: I actually wrote this post several months ago but hesitated about posting – mainly because – meh, blogging! Since then I’ve had some of the best months of my life, an amazing summer, a great season with my netball team and I’ve even gone back to school (well, an evening class!) to learn Spanish… I’m looking forward to sharing many more adventures on here, even if all I see when I log on is ‘1 viewer’ (which will probably be me checking it on my phone lols), and finding fulfilment in all the beautiful things life has to offer.