5 Tips for Surviving Adulthood
Just a lil disclaimer - this post is very long (whoops) and has few pictures. Sorry ‘bout it.
So this is probably one of those posts that, if I had a personal blog (or a journal, for that matter), I would probably share there rather than on my business blog. But, as I see it, I am my brand. And I am my business. Also, authenticity and vulnerability are two of those things that I sometimes feel are lacking a bit in this world. A friend of mine shared thoughts on social media recently that deeply resonated with me. They shared the struggle they have with balancing so many different things involved in adulthood - a business, social engagements, family, marriage. Last week, or really this whole past month, I’ve been hit, HARD, with adulthood. Turning 26 has somehow been a much larger deal than turning 25 was. I had such a different idea in my head of how my life and my business would look at this point in my life, and it’s hard when the reality doesn’t quite match the dream (not to say I am unsatisfied in any way of how my life has turned out - just saying I like plans and sometimes when plans don't pan out, it's hard to deal with). So, inspired by my friend, I’m sharing with you what building this business for the past few years has taught me, and the things I wish I had known when I started - these are my struggles, my thoughts, and hopefully some ideas for resolution for those feeling the same way (eh, maybe?) because the only way to get through this life is to stick together. Here goes - my slightly inappropriate thoughts on running a small business in the age of social media, in no particular order.
1. Social Media is not reality.
Social Media is a damn good liar, isn’t it? I mean, just thumbing through Instagram for ten minutes first thing in the morning, you’re bombarded with gorgeously styled photos of the seemingly best tasting food, most lovely products, cutest little kids, etc. Starting your day like that- woof- that takes some guts. Unfortunately, that’s how I usually start my morning, because I’m obsessed with Instagram. But, I mean, aren’t most of us?
Here’s the kicker - it’s a lie! I’m not saying that people are posting fake pictures. I mean, I definitely don’t think they are. But, most of what is posted is very curated, edited - it’s not the whole picture. That’s all fine and well - Instagram has become that social media. It’s become the platform where we share our “highlight reel”. As a business, that’s what it’s meant to be used for. There is nothing wrong with that. However, sometimes I just REALLY need to remind myself that what I see on that one blogger’s Instagram who I think is so perfect and has it all together is not the whole story. They have struggles and doubts and fears just like I do. It’s something I know in the back of my mind, but I often need to be reminded of it.
2. It’s important to surround yourself with a #tribe, or ya know, your super supportive friends and family.
I’m not sure when the word tribe got so trendy, but somehow it has. I don’t hate it. Though, sometimes I really do hate trendy things (please please, don’t make me drink a pumpkin spiced latte #vom). Actually, it’s pretty uplifting to know that a tribe is a popular thing right now. Because here’s a secret - those people that you hang out with all the time, they are the key to survival. They are your community. If I could only ever give one piece of advice to anyone starting their own business (or beginning adulthood, really) it is this - build a community of creative and loving people. They will lift you up. If you hang out with good, supportive, kind people, you probably already see their value and appreciate it. These are the people you call when you feel down, and they pick you back up again- even if they have to take turns doing it because, sometimes, just one phone call or hug isn’t enough. These are also the people who help you move TWICE within two weeks. Hold onto these people. Hold onto them for dear life. You need them more than you will ever know.
If you don’t already hang out with these kind of people, give it time. One day, a light bulb will go off. You will learn your worth, and you will begin to understand how that friend who never calls you back or somehow always makes you feel insecure and bad about yourself when you’re around them is not really your friend anyway. You’ll realize you don’t actually need them in your tribe because maybe they just won't bring the kind of value you need to it. I had a realization the other day regarding this topic, actually. I met someone new and, this might make me sound very shallow but I’m taking the risk to hopefully prove a point, after a few minutes of our conversation, I made the realization that we probably wouldn’t be close friends down the road. Now, this may come bite me in the ass and we could be besties next month, but I doubt it. You see, our conversation was very “surface." Most first conversations are this way, as is common for people meeting for the first time. But, what I’m saying is that within those 20-30 minutes or so of conversation, I learned that we didn’t really have that much in common with where our individual lives were at that moment. We could be fantastic acquaintances, but she wasn’t someone I was going to call when I felt down. Her priorities in life were very different from mine. I told Hobbs later that had I met this girl 5 years ago, I probably would’ve been friends with her. He was so confused when I said that. Well, 5 years ago, my priorities were different.
3. You’re enough. And there’s enough for everyone.
So this girl that I met the other day. Another reason this girl and I would’ve been friends 5 years ago but not now is because, for a majority of my life, I have had this desperate need to fit in and feel “ cool." Now, this girl - she was a “cool” girl. You know what I mean, the way she carried herself with such a confidence that just draws you in - that kind of cool, the “top dog” kinda cool, the “Regina George” kind of cool. Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Dude, confidence it up - please. But the reason that this was a bad scenario for me was that lusting after the seemingly "cool girls" only perpetuates my insecurities. Like I said, her current priorities are very different from mine. She knows who she is and what she wants, and 5 years ago, I sort of didn’t. Meaning that were we friends 5 years ago, I might have tried to change my priorities to better align with hers rather than accept and promote our differences. I might have tried to change my behavior to be more acceptable to her. That was the kind of person I used to be (and in some ways, weren’t we all at some point in our lives?). I just wanted to be part of the illusive “cool girls” group. Come to realize, around the age of 25, that no such “cool girls” group exists. It’s all in my head. What’s cool and what’s not is actually 100% up to me. Crazy feeling, huh?
Also, I should note, that just because that was the person I used to be does NOT mean that my relationships prior to this realization are in anyway invalid (or that my friends from before age 25 aren’t cool - because they are some of the coolest people I know). On the contrary, actually. I’m so grateful to still have real, true, be-my-weird-self around friends from all walks of life - from childhood to high school to college to post college life in NYC + Asheville. The people who have stood by me for all those years, those are the real cool girls. They accepted me for me long before I accepted me for me. They knew who I was and loved me for it before I did. They’re the real heros, here.
So how does this little scenario relate to owning a business? Well, in the same way that I always desired to be accepted by the cool chicks in high school, owning a small business kinda still feels like that sometimes. There are brands that you follow that are just so hot right now (to quote Zoolander). Those brands who are seemingly killing it are the cool girls. I want my brand to be included in that group. But the harsh realty, again, is that there is no group. You don’t just become associated with other brands and all the sudden you’re successful. Every business, every brand is different. You can’t become cool or successful by association. You have to work your hardest to build what you're doing right now without worrying about what everyone else is doing. I can’t remember it exactly right now, but there’s some saying about how there’s enough sun for everyone. There’s enough success out there for everyone to succeed. Another’s success does not take away from yours. There is not a limited amount of success available in the world.
4. You are actually the only person who can do anything about your current situation.
Ugh, this one is THE WORST. This is the one that I want to throw against a wall - repeatedly. I mean, I know it’s true, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying. I have to hold back snarky remarks when my parents and Hobbs say things like “how can I help you?” (Seriously, those people are rockstars for loving me so well.) Because, in truth, sometimes they really can’t. They can tell me they love me. They can support me emotionally. They can share my business with their friends. But when it comes to my feeling down on myself, there is absolutely nothing they can do to make me feel differently. Only I can change the way I feel. Feeling like I’ve come up short in my idea of success - that feeling is something that truly no one can do anything about but me. And this is one thing that I still struggle with daily. So, if you have tips for changing your attitude in a pinch, hit me up. But, like they say, the first step to recovery is admitting there’s a problem. So, I admit it, I have an attitude problem, and I struggle with it often. Now maybe I can move towards finding a solution.
5. Changing course does NOT equal failure.
Man, the hits just keep on coming. I blame my pride and stubbornness on my father. He’s without a doubt the most stubborn person I have ever met. Thanks for that, Dad. It's also one of the reasons he's been very successful in his own business - his unwillingness to ever give up. So thank you for instilling that drive in me, too. I should also mention that he is one of the most supportive and loving people I have ever met. I wouldn’t have even started this business journey if it weren’t for him - so thanks for that, too. However, that pride that I have festers into this voice that resides in the back of my head that likes to tell me, hey you remember that idea of success that you had in your head a couple years ago when you started this? Yeah, that’s not your current reality. You’re failing. Yall, I am NOT kidding. That stupid voice tells me stupid shit like this all the time. I drown it out the best I can, but I just can’t seem to make it go away permanently. I know that it’s wrong, and I know that these things take time and my naive-as-hell idea of success two years ago was WAY outta line. I know these things. I know them because my tribe is amazing and reminds me that everyone’s idea and road to success is different. But then that stubborn and prideful side of me comes out and whispers in my ear again.
When I lived in New York after college, I was so proud of myself, but I was miserable (at least for the second half of my stay). That might sound oxymoronic, but it’s true. This isn’t something I've talked much about with anyone, save my parents and Hobbs. But, this post is about vulnerability so this is the truth: I stayed in New York far longer than I should have out of shear stubbornness and pride. When I moved there after college, I told myself I’d go for at least a year. I initially went to go to jewelry school, which was only 3 months. Then, I ended up working for a small jewelry company for like a month and a half before they just really didn’t need extra help anymore. Then, I was just ROAMING the streets. No job, no real experience even. I was interviewing for things, trying to get a jewelry business off the ground, etc, etc, aka all the things I tell myself I was doing instead of what I was actually doing which was NOTHING. I was feeling sorry for myself, that’s what I was doing. I told myself I was going to live in the city for a year, and my year was not up. I had to stay. How stupid was that? I remember almost weekly facetimes with my mom and Hobbs sobbing about how out of place I felt and how I just didn’t know what I was going to do with my life, but I knew I couldn’t leave yet. Pride won. All I kept saying was, if I leave now, I failed. I failed at living in the big city. Everyone would talk about how she couldn’t hack it. Those words actually left my mouth. But, the hindsight-is-20-20 truth of the matter is, I just needed to change course. Literally only a few months after living in Asheville, I already felt more at peace and like I had found my place than I ever had for an instance in New York. Of course, I’m beyond grateful for my time there. I made some amazing friends. I learned what the hell I’m made of. I also learned some pretty rad jewelry skillz. It was a turning point in my life that I can only see now that it’s behind me. God had a different plan for my life then, and it was time for me to let go and see what he had in store. I had to let go of my pride to find something that truly gave me more joy than I could’ve imagined.
And as I’ve been writing this, I know that one of those turning points is coming again soon. I’ve been having similar feelings lately of what the hell am I doing? something’s not right but I’m too prideful and stubborn (and okay, scared) to change course, because that voice in my head still tells me that changing course = failure. But, I'm learning to fight it. I'm learning to combat that stupid voice and accept that change does not, in fact, equal failure. So again, in the vain of honesty, I have no idea what this turning point of potential change is, but I think this time I might be looking forward to it, and hopefully by 30, I can tell you all the things I’ve learned since 26. And hopefully, it’ll be a heck of a lot because right now at 26, my brain is only like 10% full of useful information (15% if you count song lyrics).
If you’ve stuck with me this long, BLESS YOUR HEART. Just an FYI, this post was not meant to perpetuate pity (lord, please don’t feel sorry for me), it is intended to show another side of MFF - the real, honest, very broken side. It’s the side that we all have, but sometimes social media and the world tell us not it show it. Because, the truth is, we are all broken, and we are all imperfect. But, and I mean this in all the honesty and conviction that I have in my body, that is the beauty of life - each and every one of us has these insecurities and feelings of failure and fear, and that is something to cling to. We’re a community of broken people, just doing what we can to help each other out and make each other whole.
So cheers to this community - thank you for keeping me going and lifting me up, friends, today and every day.
All my love,
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