How To When You Just Can't
It’s a New Year. One year after I wrote a blog that helped me through a hard time. A blog where I felt I could be nothing less than honest. A blog that might have helped me change a lot on the inside, but still leaves many unanswered questions on the outside.
Let’s back up. You might have read my blog early this year “The Emotional Toll of Social Media”, and while it was published in January, I started writing it way before that. I had basically quit what I was doing. I wanted to quit the fashion business and most of all the Instagram business (and by business I don’t mean the type that earns you money, more like the type that drives you crazy). So I did. For 3 months. That doesn’t seem like a very long time does it. Well it wasn’t.
So I took my break, an important mental health break, and slowly tested the waters then tiptoed back into the sea of retail, but this time, if all went well, it would be on my own terms.
As part of some therapeutic exercises, I was slowly turning our fourth bedroom into a home office. A girly space that would be just for me. Basically the little girl room that I never got to decorate. A place where I could write and think. A space that although it is not yet finished, it is one that I love and enjoy.
A place where I feel like I Just Can. As opposed to many other moments in life where I JUST CAN’T.
If you know me, you have heard me utter these words hundreds if not thousands of times as it relates to numerous things in life. But don’t mistake these three words as an excuse for me actually or physically not being able to do something (other than climb trees and go ziplining).
Urban Dictionary uses the following definitions for I JUST CAN’T or I CAN’T as it relates to this blog herein:
1- When you are at a loss of words due to someone else’s stupidity
You get the picture. For most of us who are regular on social media, we are bound to see many things that are outrageous or crazy. And therefore, we just CAN’T. For example, those that seem to have all that they could possibly need in life, and the means to live in such fashion, yet they are constantly unboxing loads of free packages sent to them from luxury retailers. I CANNOT. How about the teachers and nurses and people who work their asses off to help the sick and teach our children, whose salaries do not reflect the work and devotion they put into their professions? How about send them a box of goodness?
The young girl who clearly can’t afford her lifestyle that is full of injections, plastic surgery and countless fashion hauls that she posts on YouTube. How does she sleep at night? These hauls are not free, she is spending, and posting. Is her measuring bar of success the amount of people that watch her videos? As far as I can see, her hauls are not sponsored. I JUST CAN’T. Furthermore, I recently read an article about a girl who plunged herself into massive debt because she kept spending all of her money on travel, food, and designer clothing to try to keep up with her Instagram account. Really?
The naked bodies, everyone’s “professional” take on makeup, skincare, beauty, food - it’s endless! I CAN’T. I ask myself all the time, what is my added value to this insane world? My sales pitch? My fashion try ons? Sometimes I look at my own stories and I CANNOT!!
So how can we navigate this mess we have gotten ourselves into to get to a place where we Just CAN.
I promised, on my journey, that I would remain authentic, and learn to love myself more. I started engaging with my customers more, and I think the bottom line from that exercise is that I was learning and accepting, day by day, that what I was doing was making me happy and there had to be a way for it to translate. I heard someone say (on Instagram) at that point, that if you are out there hating others, maybe you need to look inwards because that hate is coming from within and you are just projecting it out onto others. The lightbulb went off.
I spent too many years beating myself up. Feeling stressed and frustrated. This business is really hard. I came into it RIGHT when there started to be a shift. I was selling makeup and then Sephora happened. (I could have pioneered the Instagram Makeup shit if it existed back then!) I was selling numerous items in general and then online shopping exploded and every single brick and mortar store started expanding their product assortment in order to keep up and get people in. Nothing was exclusive anymore. So basically, for the past almost 15 years, I have been fighting the fight and in the process, beating myself up about it when I wasn’t succeeding. Or rather, not meeting my own measuring stick for success.
But there IS an upside. Sometimes after I post some Fashion Videos I want to crawl under my desk and delete it all. Because I CAN’T. But then the orders start coming in. Wait a second. Maybe my little DIY stories aren’t so bad. Some days I can easily say fuck it and just go out there and be myself. But confidence is hard. You’re either born with it or you do some deep psychological soul searching for years to get to the good place. So other days it’s hard and I feel stupid or silly etc. If only I could just remove that little piece from my psyche, it would all just be so much easier. But back to the upside...it worked! I put myself out there and it was ok. Nothing bad happened and my customers thanked me for trying on the styles on so they could see in person what it looked like and I’ve turned it into a weekly segment.
And yes of course I wonder what the haters say about me but it doesn’t really occupy my thoughts as much as my own self confidence to be honest.
So in a way I see this as a follow up to the blog mentioned above, from last year. And in that blog, I took some photos on the beach. Photos that I would never have dreamed of posting publicly but for added value, I did. I don’t regret it because I think it was a very good jumping off point for me to be able to say I CAN. (Even though I look at them and I CANNOT) but they are out there and so be it. This past summer I was back at the same beach and I was feeling better about all of it and I decided to take some follow up shots for good measure. So I dragged my husband to a pretty corner and started shooting (for the record HE CANNOT with the photo taking). The weather was stunning and the bathing suit was decent. It worked. And I felt like I accomplished something. I got to that place where I can jump around and take the pics and I can find one among the bunch that I like.
I feel like I often write blogs and ask alot of questions, and leave a lot of open ended discussions because the truth is, I’m not a profesh. I’m not a preacher and I don’t think I will ever have the answers and I certainly don’t want to pretend to. I don’t think I will ever stop saying I CANNOT because really, half the time it’s amusing. I mean come on, of course a part of me wishes I can be that girl that has the perfectly toned tummy, smooth butt cheeks and awesome cleavage and pose wildly on the beach in my barely there bikini, but I never was and I don’t think I every will be and I’m accepting that because I made some important changes in my media life.
I spent so much time scrolling and saying I CAN’T and I knew I had to reign it in and take charge. There is so much noise out there that it’s overload and it wasn’t working for me. I was following dozens of trainers and girls talking non stop about their workouts and healthy eating, it was making me crazy. It’s not my style. No Days Off! Food eating (or non food eating) Challenge! 30 Day This! No Sugar No Carbs...No Life!! Hell no. Listen, I’ve said this before, I live a relatively healthy lifestyle, balanced one may say but this past year I decided to slow it down instead of turning it up. I can’t spend two hours a day exercising, it’s not for me. I stopped trying too hard and I listened to my brain and I started to focus more on Yoga, picked up Pilates, cut the training down to one day a week (if that!) and a day of Spin. And you know what? It worked. For me. I feel better with my quieter fitness plan and my body and mind are thanking me. No I will never “shred” or have any sort of pack in my mid-section but I also know that I was not born to be that way. I unfollowed the ones that made me feel like what I was doing wasn’t measuring up. Ciao, because guess what? I CAN and I’ll do it my way.
Honesty is my jam, right? So here’s another admission of guilt. I spend a lot of time measuring my success against what I perceive to be other people's success. It’s horrible, and I admit it and I CANNOT anymore. It’s appalling. The problem is, no matter how happy I am with the product I’m turning out, the clothes I am selling or even the pictures I take, I still have to rely on others to accept it, like it or buy it for it to transpire into actual, tangible success. My own personal version of mental and emotional success is one thing but you, the reader, the customer, the voyeur are the ones that can make the other stuff happen. That’s just the way the world goes round in this business. People will say oh it’s not about the followers or the likes but a certain following has to be established, it IS somewhat about the following, there is a reality to this.
I recently listened to a Podcast called “Redefining Success” and one of the guest speakers, Mary Marantz described the ABC’s of how not to be successful. Basically in a nutshell she talks about you seeing three different people related to your industry. Each doing one thing that may be different or better than what you are doing. We then start to build this mega monster in our head telling ourselves that if these people are doing one of these things then they must be doing all of them. And then it doesn’t stop at and we have 5 or 10 other people who are doing things we aren’t and we just can’t stop thinking that we have to be doing all of it and more too. Why is what other people are doing the measurement for success? It’s not even possible to do it all.
The problem is that with more, there is never enough.
The solution at this point? Cater to the following I DO have. Remind them how much I love and appreciate them because they are the ones reading and buying and lifting me up. And that would be you. You are the ones that make me say I CAN. So thank you for that.
In all. I CANNOT with Social Media in general, you know that. But I have to if I want to keep getting these words out there and if I want to keep it all up. And I want to because I love it, you know that too. I pledged to start off 2018 on a quest for Self Love and while I don’t think that journey every really ends, I’ve covered some major territory. For 2019, I pledge it to you. Those that do follow, and like and comment and shop and wear and laugh and cry with me. So tell a friend, maybe two because maybe they want to join in on our fun and let’s continue on this path together. If you CAN then I CAN too.