So, the year that will forever be known as #worstyearever is over, and a lot of us are pretty happy about that. I am too, even though for me 2o16 actually wasn’t half bad. I had my best ever work year, and managed to make more than ever before without having any regular clients as in previous years.
I felt creatively loads more fulfilled due, in part, to the fact my aforementioned avoidance of working for regular clients. I should qualify that statement a little – all I mean is that I have been working for whoever I want on a totally freelance basis as opposed to any kind of contract work which dominated by 2015.
And in my personal life, I kind of smashed it. I got married! And I have to say something here, because I think a lot of people feel weddings are the pinnacle of a relationship, and that the ‘first year of marriage’ will be inexplicably hard. For me, the hardest year of our relationship was the year we spent planning a wedding. I honestly hated almost every second. I found little joy in anything and I’m not ashamed to say I had the lowest lows I’ve ever encountered. I questioned my own self worth, my relationship, my friendships and basically lost the plot. Although the day was great, I can’t honestly say it was worth the money, time or emotional effort we had to put into it. And if I could do it all again, I’d stamp my little feet and say: NO THANKS. Registry office and pub for me, please. And I’ll be wearing sequins and potentially trainers too. END OF.
Luckily, the wedding happened mercifully early in the year and the bit after has been amazing. We are three months shy of our one year wedding anniversary and it’s been the happiest of my life. AND we have a baby on the way…..another win of 2016! I’ve been documenting my pregnancy since week 12 so you can catch up with every last detail if you want.
I have digressed a little though, because I am now feeling super fresh and ready to set some intentions for 2017. NOT resolutions, because I don’t believe in them. At least not in a traditional sense anyway. As soon as I set off on my Christmas break in Paris, with posts scheduled and my mind as ‘off work’ as it could be, my head was buzzing with things I wanted to achieve in the new year. There are things I want to achieve outside of motherhood and there are things I need to do that don’t involve work. Brands I want to work with, projects I want to complete, things I want to hone in on and I don’t want it to simply be a list I write here that I revisit in 12 months.
I read a post the other day which totally inspired me to document my intentions for the year. Although they are all intentions after a fashion, this is more about letting things go — and forgiving myself for things. Things that have held me back in the past, and will do so in the future if I don’t firmly tell myself NO!
I’m going to aim to check in on these little forgivenesses every three months so I can re-callibrate a little, because I am a seriously scattered creative and I need to check myself regularly to stop my spaghetti brain from spiralling out of control!
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In 2017, I am forgiving myself for…….
Not being a natural fitness lover
I’ve never been what you’d call sporty, not at school and definitely not at uni. But I’ve always felt I should find something I’m a natural at…running, weights…….something. I don’t know why, because I’ve stayed pretty healthy without having to worry too much despite the natural slowing of my metabolism with age (urgh, age).
I guess I do love yoga, but I’d never want to do it three times a week, let alone erry damn day. I actually can’t imagine finding the time and inclination to do anything three times a week to be perfectly honest, and this year – I am forgiving myself for that.
Because I have a bundle of energy in the shape of an eight year old dog who needs three walks a day, and a baby on the way who, no doubt, will keep me pretty active. That, alongside my weekly pregnancy yoga is enough.
I am a total perfectionist. Which doesn’t always mean I spend hours on a piece of work until it’s perfect. For me, it actually means striving for perfection until I become overwhelmed, stressed and finally give up entirely.
We’ve all seen the JK Rowling Harvard commencement speech where she extolls the virtues of failure, and reminded ourselves that many successful people started our unconventionally (Richard Branson didn’t go to Uni…etc) but when it comes to ourselves, we are infinitely more critical.
I’ve made mistakes, and will continue to do so. And that’s okay, because it simply means I’m getting closer to achieving something good. The alternative is impossible….it’s just me, paralysed with fear doing sod all.
Making my little family my priority
Mr Wanderluce has a pretty demanding job, hours-wise. And mine is not a standard nine-five so I can be working at any time of the day, although I do try to keep similar hours to him for sanity’s sake!
But all this means there really isn’t that much time for anyone else. I mean, of course we want to see our friends and do stuff without each other but honestly, sometimes I feel a bit guilt-tripped into keeping up a social life with people when I actually just wanna hang out with my husband.
I don’t know if anyone else feels like this, but as I get older I care a lot less about meeting up with people so I can tick it off my list, as it were. I only want to spend time with people who make me feel good, and whose company I enjoy. Time is far too precious. I want to see less people, more often. And at the end of the day, my husband, dog and bump come first!
I guess the above clarifies what I want to say no to this year, but that’s not the only thing. Saying no has such a stigma attached to it, and I think it’s harder as a woman somehow. We just aren’t encouraged to say no in an assertive way – we are often told we are bossy. And that is a negative thing….despite the fact it suggests you are a natural leader!
Anyway, this year I am totally forgiving myself for saying no to people who want my time, those who want me to work for free and do stuff I didn’t agree to. I won’t be feeling bad when I tell someone my day rate, they say they have no budget….and I simply say, no.
I am totally sensitive, and that’s okay. Because while it can be annoying to others (and to myself sometimes too) it’s also a bit of a gift. I am really empathic (not empathetic) and I can be a great listener too.
All of those good traits come with the side dollop of being sensitive. So, for now, I’m gonna say I am totally okay with that.
Never earning enough
The nature of freelancing in the way I do is not having a regular income. I have a couple of people I write for regularly but it all has to come from me – if I don’t think of ideas, and actually write – I don’t get paid.
While that’s scary AF, it’s also totally liberating. I’m very lucky to have a super supportive husband who doesn’t demand I get a ‘proper job’ and to be able to support myself doing what I love. But it’s hard not to think about how much I used to earn, how much I could be earning and what my peers are earning – especially with a baby on the way.
But it actually serves zero purpose. I don’t do what I do to earn big-bucks — most writers don’t, so this year — whatever I earn is okay. And yes, I’ll be on maternity leave for the majority of the year so I don’t actually have time to worry about it!
Comparing myself to others
This must be the most common trope of all, right? I don’t know a woman who doesn’t pepper her litany with comparisons. To friends, to celebrities, it’s exhausting though, right? I don’t know that it ever get’s easier with age, I honestly think that’s a cop-out so we don’t have to take affirmative action against our own self-sabotaging minds.
Although in the blogosphere it feels harder to avoid comparison, it’s actually rife in every walk of life. I compare myself daily to other pregnant women: am I the same size as them at my stage? Do they have the ‘glow’? To peers and colleagues where I ask myself how they are doing so much better than me despite appearing to do the same external things.
It’s another of those things that serves no one but the little voice in your head telling you you can’t do XYZ.
Travelling where I want to
I guess being a travel writer & blogger adds an extra layer of pressure….but it really doesn’t have to. Last year Mr W and I were in a state of flux having coming off almost three years of travelling whenever and wherever we wanted without having to plan too much, or too far in advance.
But with annual leave and a dog to contend with we struggled to make time to travel anywhere, and when we did I spent far too long trying to find the perfect place — one we’d never been to before, one that would be off season, one I could showcase on my blog……you can really see my perfectionist side here, can’t you?
By the end of the year I’d had enough, so we sat down over a glass of wine and plotted out our year month by month. We accounted for the fact that I can’t fly after mid Feb, and won’t want to go anywhere around my due date too. We now have a rough idea of when we will be taking a break, how long for (roughly) and we have a big list of places we want to go.
I’ve been invited on a few press trips which, irritatingly are all in April (when I’m due to give birth!) so it’s unlikely I’ll be doing too much in the way of work trips until later in the year. But I might try to take a few solo European trips when Mr W can’t come instead.
Not having an obvious niche
I wrote a post late last year about this, so I won’t repeat myself too much except to say I am truly over worrying about this, or any other blogging rules.
Although I know I have forgiven myself for not following this rule, there’ll be others I’ll battle with at some point and I’m hoping that revisiting this post will remind me to stop, take a breath and forgive myself for not playing by the rules.
Owning too many lipsticks
I recently sorted through all my makeup, skincare, haircare…..the lot. And I have SO MUCH STUFF. It’s a veritable beauty hall in my gaff, and my poor husband puts up with it gallantly.
The thing is, I don’t really pay for too much of the new stuff as I kindly get sent bits and pieces. A lot of the time I feel guilty and offer it to friends and family (who, weirdly aren’t that arsed!) but I think I’m gonna stop that this year. Unless it’s something I actually don’t want, or can’t use, I will be keeping it and enjoying the simple joy a new lipstick brings!
What are your 2017 intentions?
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