Hello interweb, it’s been a while. To be honest I feel like I’m on unfamiliar territory. I started writing this post in March, shortly after my 25th Birthday, and have been sporadically adding to it throughout the year. Now, as 2019 comes to a close, it is my goal to finish this post before I say ”Happy New Year!”
This year has been about personal growth and deep introspection; I’ve formed a closer relationship with myself, and got a better understanding of who I am and what I want. Last year was rough, personally, and I suppose I needed to take a break from one facet of my life to focus on another. I’ve always struggled to compartmentalise, especially when I could no longer decipher where Girl On Your Mind ended and Maxine began. Ultimately, I needed to regroup and return to this online platform with new ideas and essentially a new outlook on who I am as an individual, as a blogger, and more recently, an entrepreneur.
Maybe I should start off by explaining why I retreated and what I’ve been focusing on. I returned to Durban last year to work and save money towards a new venture that has kept both Dan and I very busy, leaving little time to do much else, hence the lapse of blog content. As I mentioned in my last post, we’re in a transitional phase, having taken the last year to up-skill and work part-time. During this period, I hit a creative wall and experienced what can only be defined as a quarter-life crisis. I needed to disappear from the online space. I deleted Facebook and Instagram off my phone, went on an indefinite digital hiatus, and subsequently fell off the face of the virtual earth.
Being ‘offline’ helped me be more present in my life, and more mindful of how I spend my time. I’ve filled my spare hours with reading books, listening to podcasts, real life conversations, and spending more time alone, something I’ve never prioritised, and am learning to enjoy. My mornings are especially sacred, and I’ve made an effort to cultivate routine; morning habits that keep my mind clear and in order. The most integral part is limiting my exposure to unnecessary stimulus or decision making. Instead of waking up in the morning and checking how many views my Instastory received or deciding what next to post, I grab my yoga mat and either stretch out my body, or meditate for half an hour. Instead of scrolling through senseless memes on my Facebook feed, I’ve started journalling my thoughts and anxieties to declutter my mind. Instead of searching for recognition or external validation, I’ve tried to express gratitude for all the virtues and blessings in my life, no matter how small.
This has inevitably made me more secure and confident, and I now look to myself for meaning and happiness, rather than others. Having reached the quarter century of my life, I am more aware than ever of how quickly and surreptitiously time passes by. I have become obsessed with optimising my time, getting the most out of my day, never wasting a second and always being productive. I want to extend my capabilities, acquire more knowledge, explore new fields, and figure out how I truly can become the best version of myself and just Live. My. Best. Life. Now, I haven’t morphed into some Duracell bunny with endless amounts of energy, and I vary rarely accomplish everything on my to-do list, but I aspire to do and be more. Ridding my life of anything that didn’t contribute positively to it was a necessary purge, even if just a temporary one.
That is not to say that this blog contributed negatively to my life; I adore creating content and I actually want to dedicate more time to this space. My love for writing, styling and photography continues to evolve, and these posts can often be a catalyst for emotional honesty, self-reflection and life-troubleshooting. It can be incredibly humbling. But sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back and re-establish your ‘why’, by defining your purpose and revisiting the ‘plan’. It hasn’t been an easy journey; I’ve subjected myself to myriads of self-deprecating thoughts and criticism; Why am I a 25 year old waitress still living with my parents? Sometimes I am fully equipped to deal with the self-loathing by consciously acknowledging that the way I feel right now is not how I will feel tomorrow, or even in the next hour. That helps me peacefully detach from those feelings. But sometimes the noise in my head is so loud that it completely immobilises me and I end up not doing anything at all. I’m not always strong enough to see the bigger picture and from time to time I give into the lull and have a good cry, after which I usually feel better. My aim isn’t to be eternally positive or even happy – I welcome the challenges because they make me appreciate the good times so much more. I just need to learn how to navigate through life when I feel like the glass is half empty.
Kicking social media to the curb has been a game changer; rather than distracting myself by engaging in other people’s lives, I spend that energy fixing my internal struggles, and improving my immediate surroundings. In the past I’d go to bed feeling absolutely knackered from an otherwise uneventful day and wonder why I was so devoid of energy when I hadn’t really gotten anything done. At the beginning of this year I made a promise to myself to prioritise and nurture my mental health; I’ve really tried to limit my exposure to the endless pressures of social media, be it the infinite search for perfectionism, the act of constant comparison, or drowning in impostor syndrome.
With that said, I fully appreciate what social media has done for brands and creators alike; the fact that people (myself included) can even aspire to have a career outside of the 9 to 5, from a working space of choice, and the opportunity to collaborate with other like minded individuals, is fucking incredible to say the least. I still intend to use it for my business, but I’m in the process of cultivating some necessary self-control; I don’t want to regress to feeling compelled to showcase every bit of my life like a bad reality TV show.
The older I get, the less sure I am of my views and the more I constantly question my personal constitution and opinions. I used to be quite arrogant, the kind you’re allowed to be when you’re a vivacious young adult. I was completely stubborn with fixed opinions, and while I still maintain my convictions, if you can convince me of something contrary to my belief, I’d like to be open minded and entertain your argument instead of enforcing mine. We are all subject to confirmation bias; our brain’s automatic system filters out everything we see and hear because it requires a lot of mental energy to challenge our preconceived beliefs. Most of the time we don’t have the full picture, therefore don’t actually know the truth. Far too often we argue from opposite sides of the fence and fail to understand the other’s point of view. Social media can sometimes facilitate and even perpetuate this sort of division among people – another reason I choose not to add to the noise.
Another thing I’ve learned this year is that goals often take double the effort and twice the time to achieve, and it can often feel like they’re getting further and further out of your reach, despite the fact that you’re working your ass off to attain them. But what I’ve realised is that although it’s important to have goals and work towards them, we have to be happy during the actual process of growth and not just once that goal has been achieved. We should not tie our success to the end result, but rather the journey, whether or not the goal is reached. As Courtney Carver from Be More With Less said, ‘’When you are hyper focused on the end of the goal or a specific measurement, you discount everything that unfolds along the way. There is great opportunity for growth and joy long before you reach the end. ‘’
An anecdotal example of this is waitressing; a job that can be thanked for so much of my personal growth, financial gains, and business opportunities, yet is often overlooked and berated as being mediocre and embarrassing. Obviously I do not want to be a waitress forever, but I acknowledge its importance in my journey. It’s what I can attribute my new found confidence and financial independence to; when looking back, I acknowledge how isolated I was; working all day from home with my only point of contact with the outside world being work emails and Dan. Now I’m guaranteed to meet new people every time I go to work. It’s also flexible, with no deadlines, homework or major responsibility, giving me time to focus on studies, old hobbies, new business ventures, and spontaneous travel. This year I visited the Darkensburg for the first and second time in my life, once to celebrate my 25th birthday. These visits provided me with a small glimpse at the places I have yet to explore and if I have to settle for intermittent waitressing gigs to help me do that, then sign me up.
Waitressing is also how I met my new business partner and friend, Simone Bufé, with whom I launched my first clothing collection, Girl On Your Mind | The Label. Designing my own clothing has always been part of the plan, I just didn’t think it would happen so soon. But it has, and I fall more in love with the process every day.
I guess my closing words will be this: I love using this platform to share my thoughts and ideas, obstacles and achievements, interests and views, as a way to give permission to others to do the same. In a world with so much information and connection, we have never felt more alone. I want to create a community of honest conversation, for people to open up, discuss, and feel less isolated. I’m excited for the future like never before, but I’m also happy right now. And that’s great. Here’s to the end of another eventful year. I wish you all nothing but happiness, peace and rejuvenation during this festive season, and I thank you for still reading my very long, convoluted posts. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
All photos taken by myself and Dan Erasmus.3