My Wavy Journey
Trust me to be doing my 2017 roundup on the 5th! To be honest the first week of January is always a bit weird, in school I’d be writing the wrong date most of the time and still eating the reduced mince pies. Remember Kristabel, you need to allow one ‘worse-for-wear’ day and one ‘WTF am I doing day?’, before things start falling into place.
It’s weird, 2017 is the year I’ve probably had the most clarity whilst living in an uncertain world. I’m going to stick to Kristabel-related aspects in this post (though I’m despairing at the news most days) and keep things mainly light and positive. Although I’ve had a fair few dips and freak-outs (no, you’re the one googling egg-freezing on a Friday night), I’ve tried to put strategies into place to combat this. Sometimes I listen to my productive side and sometimes I scroll endlessly before realising I’ve watched far too many American daytime tv clips on YouTube.
Now I’m itching to start writing properly again after some decent time off in Germany but before that onslaught, I thought I’d share a few musings on the past year. It’s a good ‘un.
Content Creator Kristabel
Over the past few years I’ve really tried to make my content reflect the person I am better, a freelance, accidental entrepreneur who strives for self-improvement, but also gets distracted by ANTM gifs. In terms of fashion, I’ve accepted that I’m not the kind of blogger who just wants to push product for the sake of it and as a result I’ve done less ‘forced’ outfit posts, where I have nothing useful to say. Instead I touched on my anxiety over showing cleavage, my twenty-something wardrobe essentials and whether the basket bag trend was just something ridiculous you bought for the gram I also really loved putting together my Black Friday post, it’s filled with shopping strategies you can use all year round (plus the story of how I got two Sophie Hulme bags for £85).
I’ve always been asked about racial diversity within blogging and I knew that it needed more of a complete analysis. We have to look at the historic reasons as to why black people are less likely to start businesses, the pressure that is put on us to succeed and the complexity of mainstream beauty standards. My post Black, British & Blogging was just a starting point. I interviewed illustrator Dorcas Magdebelo and MDMflow founder Florence Adepoju to try and understand the unique challenges black-owned businesses are facing. I also shared 30 black female content creators, some of my favourite braided hairstyles and another vibrant gift guide in my attempt to keep the conversation going.
Even though I put a little too much pressure on myself at times and struggled with self-doubt (leading to a few impromptu breaks), I now look back on these posts and wonder what I was stressing out about. It’s like I need a hindsight app to tell me ‘Yes, your points make perfect sense’ and ‘No, you don’t have to write the next Cat Person-style viral hit every week’. This year I need to be honest with myself, to stop when things aren’t really flowing and move onto a different task. Nine times out of ten I’ll be washing up and all of a sudden the right words will come.
Pretend CEO Kristabel
There seemed to be a lot of articles about redefining success in 2017 and it’s something I’ve always struggled with. Can I call myself successful when I’m in denial about my expenses and afraid of pitching? Of course there’s different versions for each of us and it’s also tricky when we’re on social media, watching someone who seemingly has it all and isn’t content.
Hiring a business mentor has definitely helped me reframe the way I see everything. Supporting myself in London and living away from my parents for the past three years is no mean feat and I was so focused on all the things I wasn’t achieving, that I failed to see this major point. Sure I wasn’t living a champagne lifestyle, but I was fed, watered and never needed to break into my savings.
In terms of Business Kristabel, 2017 was the year I managed to surpass my previous income after leaving my previous job three years ago. I know you may see a lot of advice about when to go full time, some people want to wait until they’re earning the same amount of money from freelance pursuits and others are okay with waiting it out (Miss Magpie Spy is also pretty honest about earnings too). If we get out of the blogging bubble, most businesses take a few years to become profitable (definitely listen to ‘How I Built This’ if you like a good journey), but their founders still persevere because of a bigger need. This is definitely my story.
Some major highs involved moving things on slightly. My ongoing CollectPlus work led to a Stylist magazine feature, I managed some small influencer projects, hosted events, hired Sade on a freelance basis to help with admin and worked on sponsored videos for the first time. December will be my tenth blog birthday and the aim is to compile everything I’ve learned into something tangible. I don’t necessarily have a five-year-plan, but I do know what I am passionate about and the themes that will shape my career, inclusivity, empowerment and challenging what has gone before.
America was the main focus for my travels in 2017. I was itching to go back to New York after a 7-year hiatus but I also wanted to understand more of the history that has led to many ongoing struggles today. I explored the Deep South thanks to my Trek America crew, maximising my time in New Orleans, Birmingham, Gatlinburg, Nashville, Memphis and Natchez. It felt emotional going to the places paramount to the Civil Rights movement and seeing the political contrasts with my own eyes, instead of through viral clips and hashtags.
I also finally booked a trip to NYC and packed it to the fullest, interviewing bloggers, seeing exhibitions and eating my way around the city. My Copenhagen post was also the first to be featured on Bloglovin, I ticked Hamburg off my German cities list and spent my 30th birthday in Budapest. In total, I spent 49 hours up in the clouds (and 21 reluctant hours in airports, according to my Life Cycle app). In 2018 I’ll continue to investigate what makes places tick, explore the local creative scene and have an open mind about each destination.
What’s Going On Inside Kristabel’s Head?
So the first half of the year was probably spent being in denial about turning 30, wondering how I could manage my inconsistent motivation and reflecting on some of my past actions. Perhaps a post titled ‘What Happens When You Don’t Hit Your 2017 Goals (Because You Didn’t Print Them Out)’ is in order. My instinct is to hide, forget and sometimes self-sabotage, instead of facing the music.
Now I try to understand and examine the ‘why’ when it comes to things I’m not doing. Example, someone will casually say ‘I’m doing a podcast, you should come on!’ Then it blows up and I feel completely awkward bringing it up again as I’m not plugging a book/
live show/line of tea towels. Now I try to decode the feelings of self-doubt and remember what I have to offer. Discovering The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin has definitely helped (I’m a Rebel) and made me think about how I have been able to make things stick. If I could apply my batch-cooking logic to my tax return, that’d be grand.
My birthday led to many heart-to-hearts (plus Carrie’s rather embarrassing Instagram Story of me body rolling in Szimpla) and realising that I need to take a few more risks, if I want certain areas of my life to change. I’ve also enjoyed seeing friends blossom on their respective journeys, meeting inspiring women at events and feeling proud of my creative siblings. It’s not every day that you see your brother pop up on Dazed!
Happy New Year to you all! It looks like 2018 will be interesting when it comes to my wavy life journey and as per usual I’ll be documenting it on the appropriate channels. Thanks to everyone who’s been reading and watching (holler if you remember the gappy fringe years) and I’d love to know any realisations you may have had.
2018 will be the year I finally launch a newsletter, sign up here so you’re in the know!