One Year On - What I've Learned

One Year On - What I've Learned

Guys, I’ve been blogging for a year.  A YEAR.  It has been a whirlwind, a slog, and everything in between, but unlike any other experience in my life it has been 100% mine.  I made the decisions, I worked on it as hard as I could (or couldn’t), I put my ridiculous “sense of humour” in the public domain.  A year ago I would have sneered at someone describing writing about dressing up as transformational, yet here I am, transformed.  So, I thought I’d tell you all the things that I’ve figured out this year.  There’s only five.  I’m a slow learner.

People will believe in it

I wanted to start a fashion blog a long, long time ago, but I thought people would find it hilarious (and by that, I mean I was afraid they would laugh at me).  At one point six years ago I even started a blog, tried to build some content in secret, and ultimately (and unsurprisingly) deleted it. 

Now, I haven’t gotten all new friends and family since that point in time.  It wasn’t that they were unsupportive back then, it’s that I didn’t understand how much people will believe in you if you are doing something you feel excited about.  Those same friends and family members have been so interested in the blog, have read it and told people about it and have asked me how it’s going.  My Mum is probably more excited about this blog than any other human alive, because guess what?  People who love you just want you to do things that you like and that make you feel happy and successful.  Thank you to every person who spoke to me or emailed me or reached out in some way to tell me they thought what I was doing was good.  You really helped me to enjoy this year. 

If you have a secret thing you really, really want to do – please tell someone who loves you and believes in you. You will be the better for it.

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Accept help and make friends

When offered help, there's a really annoying small person inside me who shouts "no! I can do it MYSELF".  That person needs to shut up, because I cannot.  Being independent all the time can be pretty much the same as isolating yourself, plus it just makes things harder than they need to be. Turns out, saying "hey can you help me please" or "yes, I'd love it if you took those photos of me" is the same as saying "I trust you" and "I value you".  

Lucy is essentially the reason this blog exists.  Not only did she ask the right question at the right time, thus revealing my secret blog desire, she followed through and she helped.  She helped me set up the website, she took my first photos, she helped me buy a camera, she (nicely) forced me to set up Google Analytics when I was feeling lazy, she has been generous in introducing me to contacts and in giving me advice when I needed it. 

Mum and Julie have taken photos of me, Daniil taught me about the exposure triangle so I could finally work out how to take photos in low light (and loosely understand the Manual setting on my camera, which is v handy to know), countless people have shared their knowledge about New Zealand fashion.  Total strangers have agreed to work with me, have shared their ideas and have been interviewed.   It has been INCREDIBLE to experience this generosity, and to experience it without exception.  Thank you so much if you have been kind to me this year.  I truly, truly appreciate it.

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You have the power

There are elements of this blog that are embarrassing.  I take photos of myself posing it up, in public, with a tripod, at least twice a week.  Passers-by are regularly confused and entertained by me.  I get it.  There are also elements of this blog that are hard work.  I have to think of three posts’ worth of things to say every week, I have to find a picture of myself where my face isn’t weird, it’s tough times.  And there are elements of this blog that are confronting.  People recognise me now (very occasionally), and sometimes my lawyer world and my blog world collide at events and it’s slightly weird.  (But in a good way, don’t stop saying hi!)

I’ve spent much of this year building on my knowledge about my brain and my thoughts and my #feels.  The blog has been a wonderful vehicle for practising what I’m striving to learn – that I have the power to decide how I feel and how much I care.  I carry business cards in my camera bag now, so that when people ask me what I’m doing (and they do – a lot), I can give them a card and hopefully get another reader.  There have been times when I’ve been too exhausted to blog, and I’ve consciously chosen to take a break – to rest, not quit.  And I’ve given a lot of thought to the impact of this blog on my capital-C career, and decided that anyone who thinks that this blog means I can’t have some reasonably clever thoughts about securities law is an idiot who I don’t care to work with.  The last is particularly freeing.  Shame, guilt and fear are all a waste of my time, and I refuse to unthinkingly feel them about something that I enjoy so much.  

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If you try, you will improve

Oh my god, this blog a year ago.  I started with a totally different idea of what kind of blog I would write, and those early posts are a testament to that delusion.  My photos, my Instagram, my writing…all of them changed over the course of the year and, in my opinion, all of them improved. 

All I did was make the best thing I could at the time, and occasionally look back at my earlier stuff and go “noooooo”.  The latter spurred me on to try harder.   In whatever you’re doing, it’s important to look back at your work and see with clear eyes what you could do better.  But even more important is to keep trying to be better.  It’s not enough to wish it, you have to intentionally identify what you can do to improve.  For me, that came down to changing my writing style to something more natural, learning how to use my camera better, and learning how to edit.  With any luck, I’ll keep on trying and I’ll keep on getting better.   

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So just keep fucking going

When I started this blog I did not know that I was also going to take on a new job that would, frankly, hand my ass to me on a plate.  I lost 5kgs from stress this year, I’ve spent many many hours going “I fucking hope I’m doing this right” while doing it, and I'm pretty confident I’ve already worked my full year of contracted work hours by now due to all the overtime.  It was killer to try and keep this blog going during all of that. But I did.

JUST KEEP GOING. When you’re falling asleep upright with a computer on your lap and a half-written blog post – just keep going.  When you have zero content and it’s Sunday, don’t panic.  When you’re at work at 11pm and you’re crying from sheer exhaustion, just send one email to one person.  Tiny, tiny steps are still steps.  If you need to stop, and I did on two occasions, make a clear plan for how you will start up again.  You will eventually be through it and you will be able to look back and I promise you, you will feel so proud.  

I do.