Weathering the storm when things are rough is a skill that every twenty-something should have in their arsenal. It truly doesn’t matter how optimistic, happy-go-lucky or just plain lucky you are, chances are you’ll face bad seasons as you progress through those tumultuous twenties. And even though your favourite Instagram influencer seems to be sailing through life completely unaffected, sporting a completely new outfit every day in a new far-flung destination and with unrealistic pastel colours swirling around them, I promise you that isn’t the case. The bottom line is that we’re all fighting our own battles and there will probably always be another just around the corner. Sorry.
A few weeks ago, I was ‘that’ annoying blogger, splashing their dirty laundry all over Twitter and complaining that life was just dealing the wrong hand for me each and every time. I mean, it’s easy to say you’ll never be that guy but venting and just letting it all out is usually a good start for us mere mortals.
Rough patch stormed and weathered, here’s what I did to successfully shake things off.
I mean… how could I not?!
Took some time out and off
Part of the rough patch that I was dealing with was born of two client projects coming to very unexpected ends, both long-term and both that make a considerable impact on my business and livelihood. For some reason it’s considered crass to talk about these things online but as somebody that is establishing themselves more and more as a business owner that, for whatever reason, people look up, I felt that it was important to share the lows as much as I do the highs. And sometimes, things are terrible and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
As a team we were politely asked not to come back in to the office, so I threw myself in to taking time off and embracing a period of quiet and calm. I mean, it’s safe to say that isn’t me at all! You’ll likely never hear me advise you to sit and do nothing again! I’m kidding, of course. Regardless, I took some time out from hustling and time off from my everyday schedule. It was just what I needed in order to give myself some headspace to consider what had happened, why it may have happened and also give my mind a break from constantly whirring with cogs turning every moment on the hustle. Sometimes, changing up your routine (however regimented or not that might be) is just what you need. The lesson here? Hustling constantly will lead to burnout not a breakthrough.
Let yourself be sad
I am SO thankful for this online community that I’ve built so carefully over the years. No, we aren’t millions of people strong, but we are a good ten thousand or so (no, I don’t believe it either) and you are all such good eggs. Like, ridiculously great, cruelty-free eggs. Shortly after my business bad news, I experienced some seriously awful racist abuse. I’m finding my place as a social issue activist and am really enjoying using my platform for good and to raise awareness by sharing my experiences, and so I did, and you were all so incredibly supportive. And what I learned was to let myself feel sad.
The outpour of messages from everybody took me by surprise and instead of defiantly soldiering on, I realised from each and every message that I’m allowed to be sad about these things. I’m allowed to go home and feel like utter shit and do whatever I feel I need to to get myself back on track. In this case, it was curl up in a ball, not look at social media and mindlessly watch YouTube videos from kind creators until the world felt normal and safe again.
Digital detox and declutter
Next in my Michelle Does Breakdowns came the comparison trap, that I’m sure is no stranger to any fellow blogger or creator!I ended up falling ill on Thursday afternoon and almost passing out on the Underground in London which, now that I reflect on it, was probably a result of all the previous stresses I’ve mentioned.
Why don’t I have 50k followers and the ability to comment on 100 posts and slide into DM’s every minute? (Because I don’t buy followers or use bots.) Why can’t I have so-and-so’s X, Y and Z? (Because I’m saving for my first home that I’ll love and cherish more than any Instagram-trendy accessory.) Why am I gaining 50 followers but my count stays the same? (Because no bots in this house but plenty of people do use them.)
Why can’t the algorithm show me posts from my followed accounts as and when they’re posted instead of the same handful of almost identical influencers? (Because Instagram is intrinsically geared to the public as a whole and there’s probably 20 normal Instagram users for every influencer out there.)
I had a meltdown at the state of my follower count even after blogging for 8 years (I mean, granted I’ve only been on Instagram for 3/4 years but, still…) and I could see someone I personally know buying followers but being rewarded for it, and then I remembered: I control that all. Unfollowing people doesn’t make you a bad person, it just puts you back in charge of your mood and that godforsaken app. A little declutter and deciding to step away from the platform entirely until I feel good enough to be back has been genuinely SO transformative for me, in the least w*nky way possible.
Talk about it
If you take just one thing away from this post, let it be that it is SO good to just talk about things and not let them consume you. As always, that’s easier said than done but whether it’s talking to somebody you trust, calling the Samaritans or reaching out to a therapist, talking is so bloody great for your mind.
Once the business worry, racist abuse and comparison trap worked its’ ways on me, I felt closed away, my chest was tight with anxiety and I felt like I was going to break into a thousand shards of Sailor Moon Crystal magic at any given time. I fell physically ill and was mentally a little ill too. How insane that your body will always tell you what’s up first? It isn’t the first time I’ve felt that way, and I’m certain it won’t be the last. But small things like venting to my boyfriend, brain-dumping everything with my sister and having an awesome friend like Bee who constantly checked in with me daily, hourly, did me more good than I’ll ever imagine. I’ll be endlessly grateful to them each for that. Spilling out every niggle I had in my mind felt like having Thor’s hammer (no, not that!) lifted from my chest which was glorious, thunderous magic in itself.