A few weeks ago I was feeling so low I almost didn't know how to scrape myself off the floor; I'm not a 'cry-er', I'm not overly emotional and I'm not into self-pity, but I genuinely felt like I was falling apart at the seams and I didn't quite know why. You may have caught my unabashed periscope broadcast, which started as an honest account of what it's like to be a full time blogger in 2015 and quickly evolved into what only can be described as a 'Big Brother breakdown' in front of the hundred odd people watching. I was sobbing, but between the sobs I was being completely open and honest about the pressures bloggers face in 2015 - it's often pushed under the carpet and simply never spoken about, so it's no surprise that it sent shock waves out into the community. Since that pivotal moment I've been able to take stock, re-align what's important to me and take a little time out for myself; what's been fascinating is the amount of incredible support I received from the blogging (and reader) community, many of whom admitted they totally related to every word I was saying. A broken heart and mind isn't as aspirational as the newest makeup launch from Urban Decay, so it's rare you see bloggers opening up and telling it how it *really* is - to those that want to know.
When you become a blogger you become not only the writer, but the editor, photographer, social media manager and web design expert. When you become a full time blogger, you add the skill sets of a sales manager, finance department, account management, marketing and CEO. That's a lot on anyone's plate. Unlike a freelancer (who often has a contract for a set period of time, which offers a little security and regular income,) a blogger has no clue where their next pay cheque is coming from - or if it will come at all. Campaigns and consultancy are often one-off projects that keep you ticking over financially for a week, before you need to find something else to ensure your bills are paid; there's no security whatsoever and you're only as good as your last blog post. Pair that with the fact that the ever increasing number of 'pro' bloggers are after a slice of the non-infinite piece of pie too, and you have yourself and incredibly competative and threatening environment. It's no wonder we're all going a little bit cuckoo and wondering why.
Blogging has changed so much from when I started playing the game back in 2010; bloggers were united in one common goal and there simply was no money. Five years later and, inevitably, the financial side of things has caused friction and split friendships apart; it's difficult (although by no means impossible) to remain friendly with everyone when you're all competing for the same piece of work. Although I do have my close blogging friends who have provided an invaluable source of support and reasoning while I'm in irrational mode, I've started to seek out alternative social circles and have definitely taken a step back from the cliquey world I previously thrived on. It's totally normal and rational to feel disappointed when someone has been given an opportunity you wanted, or you're overlooked in favour of someone that's massively inflating their stats to get ahead; however, it's how you react to that disappointment that's important. Rather than sulking and moaning, I'm now trying to turn that sinking feeling into a positive and ensuring it spurs me on to do even better than I was before.
Furthermore, working from home may seem like a dream come true if you slog it on the underground or motorway every day at 7am, but when you don't have a reason to get dressed or leave the four walls of your flat for three days on end, you will find yourself striking up essential relationships with all the couriers within a five mile radius. Sometimes I'll speak to nobody but my boyfriend and the postman for three days; sometimes I feel like I have to talk to myself just so I don't forget how to speak. The comradery of an office really is second to none and something people don't think about when making the leap to self employment; having someone to ask how your weekend was, read over a piece of work, bounce ideas off or simply have a bitch about a client, keeps your mind clear and focused. Not having anyone to talk to, rant at or ask advice of is incredibly difficult - especially when you work in an arena which is constantly evolving and there's really no set 'right and wrong' answer. Constantly second guessing and questioning yourself can have severe consequences; if you don't believe in yourself and sell your skills to others, then who will? Although there's no magic answer, realising that the same environment day-in-day-out does nothing for my mental state, I've started to spend more time in coffee shops and taking little day trips just for a hit of inspiration. It's amazing what a soy latte with a shot of sugar-free hazelnut can do for your emotional wellbeing.
The amount of time injected into every blog, as well as the passion and skill, is immense and should be recognised - both by readers and brands. When you work for yourself there's no such thing as a weekend, and days off are hard to come by; there's always something else to do, someone else to reach out to and three more things to tick off your list before bedtime. Social media may be 24/7, but it's important to understand you don't have to be. I've come to realise that the world won't stop turning if I don't post for a couple of days, or if I don't pin anything to Pinterest this week; putting more pressure on yourself is only counterproductive, so taking a step back could be just what you need in that moment. It's easy to take negative comments, anonymous insults or bitchy feedback personally - because a blog is a reflection of someone's inner most passions and interests. It would never be acceptable to walk up to someone in the street and tell them their foundation is too orange, but because we're online and intangible it seems that anything goes. That's pretty hard to deal with and can knock you for six if you're already having a down day, so perspective and a sense of humour really does go far. Learning to take comments with a pinch of salt doesn't always come easily, but knowing you have the power to publish or delete does offer up a solution.
Trying to continually come up with new ideas, new angles, new photography styles, new stories to tell is harder than you ever imagine; now many of us have been doing this for four, five, six years, we're reaching the point of burn-out. If you did any job for that length of time without a proper break, you'd inevitably need to make some major changes in your life. Although being a full time blogger is incredible and has opened up a career path many of us never even imagined, it's also important to realise the pressures that go alongside this kind of work. Eventually we're all going to deflate - whether or not it's exhaustion, lack of creativity, feeling overwhelmed or simply not having someone to talk to about what we've been up to that day. I guess I just wanted to say that it's ok if you're feeling a little bit down in the dumps or it gets too much; we've all been there and it's perfectly normal. Have a little cry, make yourself a cup of tea and start to implement small changes that will provide a cumulative difference overall - sometimes just admitting you're not ok is the catalyst you need to make a change. In the last few weeks I've gradually got my mojo back and understand where I need to place my efforts for the best possible outcome; I know what my skill sets are and I no longer feel like I should be doing everything and anything. I'm focusing on bigger ideas, worrying less about what everyone else is up to and re-igniting my passion for beauty. It's not the end of the world if you have a mini breakdown: we're still growing, learning and evolving. Nobody's perfect, but that just makes us all the more interesting.