This is 44…Personal Thoughts About Growing Up And Aging Through Digital And Social Media

Tomorrow is my birthday, so to celebrate I closed the “office” for two days and I’m giving myself two “Yes” days (think cold plunge, walk/hike with podcasts, vintage shopping, wine at lunch, Barbie (2nd time) with my best friends, kids snuggles, man snuggles, pig snuggles, and friends from LA coming in to probably Alpaca snuggle). But we can’t let 44 fly by without a little self-indulgent/reflection post because this age/decade is so much more fascinating than I could have predicted.

To celebrate 44, I wanted to quote my friend Jason Derulo via Armchair Expert last week who talked about the top 10 biggest “missers” in NBA basketball – the players that missed the most attempts at scoring. As you might guess they are the GOATS: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, etc. The players that have the most misses, have the most wins. I found this stat so inspiring, comforting and have repeated this ad nauseam last week to my kids, friends, team, grocery clerk, UPS dude (shout out to Dustin) and anyone who will listen.

Mid-life is hard, but also so empowering. Like most people in their 40s, I’m really enjoying the clarity that comes from stirring the pot of life ingredients – i.e. heavy work/family responsibility, daily mistakes, some successes, terrible parenting moves, trips/falls, and recovering on all fronts. Oh and with a dash of try-hard-know-it-all-ism. Let’s call it middle aged soup. Every day is an opportunity to fall on your ass and get back up, which seems to get easier each time, until the fall is greater and the way back up is unknowingly hard. On a good day, I love this weird game of life, while recognizing that I’m lucky enough to do so from a really privileged vantage point. While my vanity doesn’t enjoy getting older, the increasing moments of clarity and wisdom are so worth it – and spoiler: you only get to have wisdom by aging. I’ll take the ladder.

Right now our kids are 7 and 9 and Brian and I are loving these “magical years of parenting” where they can get themselves fed and dressed, but don’t hate us yet. We have a slower, simpler life with dogs, pigs, alpacas, and a neighborhood/community that we value so much. But a career that is heavily embedded in social media is not always easy. I started my (second) career as a design blogger in 2010 before influencing on multiple platforms was a thing and adapting to it has been a REAL WILD RIDE.

2022 was specifically challenging in regards to social media. My relationship with it was already challenged. I fundamentally changed during lockdown and felt immense pressure to go back to a chaotic work life presenting “perfection” all day every day on social media and I just didn’t have it in me anymore. Meanwhile TikTok was disrupting this industry in a really alarming way and the numbers were changing fast. I didn’t adapt as well as I wish I had (mentally or professionally). The numbers were BUMMING me out. I was saying a lot of terrible things to myself that I don’t even want to write down. Essentially, I was full of insecurity/self-doubt and wondering if I still fit in. I’ve been doing this for 14 years, which is like 278 in social media years. Digital (specifically social) media is a game that has so much potential for reward (and I’m so grateful for parts of it) but due to the algorithms it often feels like the Hunger Games – we are all thrown into a battle where the second we figure out how to use the weapons we were given, the rules change and that weapon no longer works. My professional self-worth was getting caught up in it. We were scrambling to try to hit the numbers we had during Covid, and I was secretly wondering if flipping houses would offer more stability and better mental health.

This is also a HUGE reminder to us all – that social media can be very dangerous, mentally if you don’t know how to approach it in a healthy way. I didn’t start blogging until I was 30 and on social media when my frontal lobe was super formed at 33. And even I find myself super affected by “likes” and comments when I’m not in a clear head space.

Thank GOODNESS for my wonderful team. They do so much behind the scenes you have no idea and were so supportive. You see, there used to be just 1-2 social media platforms and that’s it (the blog and maybe OG IG). Now we have/GET to shoot, record, bank, edit, and publish content for 5-7 platforms most days (some vertical, some horizontal, some quick and catchy, some long form, some short form to promote the long form, some visual, some written, some with caption, some long articles, voiceover, etc). Each platform has different requirements, formats with different audiences that want different things. It’s really, really hard to know what will hit (and I’m not alone, all the marketing execs at top companies that I partner with and every content creator I know are equally flummoxed and trying new things every day). You have to look at it like a creative challenge that you get to take otherwise it can be an impossible place to lead from. Last year, I was trying to create the content mostly by myself up here, which wasn’t working AT ALL and I wanted to give up. I missed my team so much. I wasn’t doing the best job, I wasn’t enjoying it, I would forget to get the right footage for the right platform, and I was so mad – I used to be so good at this!!! I found myself really resenting social media, as if it were the problem, and I felt like such a brat. I knew that I was the problem. I had to make a big shift.

The Big Shift…

I took a break – some time to think/focus/read last January. Time is the world’s most privileged commodity of all and I am so grateful I was able to take some to reset. I asked myself so many hard questions. I went through all the “whys,” honed in on my value (shout out to Brené Brown). I read about blockages and started the work to remove the ones that were making me feel so terrible and negative about myself. I dove more into spirituality to feel more connected bigger/higher power/universe (who others might call God). If this makes you bristle or want to roll your eyes, I get that. This is not about organized religion (for me) or weird wellness stuff. Just feeling more connection to what feels good and bigger, to each other, and to the planet. All that meaning and purpose stuff. It might be placebo, I don’t care. Collectively it all worked.

It was like a pair of cloudy gray glasses were lifted off my eyes and for lack of any less cringey terms, I felt really supported, warm, hopeful, clear, and like I belonged here. My pep came back in my step. I felt light and bright again. I was saying yes again to opportunities that felt so aligned with where I wanted to go. I re-invested my time back HERE, into this blog – the one element of this job that I’ve always loved with my whole heart. And the numbers followed. Funny how that works 🙂

I’m so glad that I didn’t make any large changes when I was feeling so down on myself. I could give you all the steps that helped, books that I read, mantras I wrote and repeated – but it’s personal and specific to my life, my problems and career and I don’t want to evangelize or proselytize (but will in person if you want me to:)).

Boundaries… FTW

One thing I did (that I would highly recommend) is identifying the real pain points in my job and strategize how to fix those, without throwing out the baby out with the bathwater. When you are down it’s so easy to be like, “thats it, I’m calling it,” when there might be 1-4 changes that could make everything better. Not everything is fixable but my reaction to the problems and my approach became so much better. We started monitoring comments, which has been wildly good for all of our mental health. I now have a very strict and manageable on-camera shoot schedule rather than feeling the pressure to be “on” all day every day (the recipe for burnout). And on the days that I don’t feel like being on social, I don’t. A huge thanks to my team for posting and managing all our partnerships – it’s a really big job that is super invisible. They allow me to take breaks when I need to and they take the reigns to keep the business going 🙂

The days that are frustrating are less “doomsday” and more just “life”. Doable. All OK. And every time I feel negative (like if I invested heavily in a project that didn’t hit at all), I have so many more tools to help me see it as a lesson, not a total failure. Besides, the numbers are just numbers. The posts that give me joy and make me excited are what I care about.

I’m so grateful that this blog exists and is still growing. I’m so thankful that you are here and that we’ve been able to stay open and thrive despite every major digital media shift. And listen, the middle aged cliche is actually really comforting. Instead of a Porsche I have a cold plunge, and instead of an affair with a younger man we have some alpacas and piglets. The sense of reinvention feels exciting and ripe with possibility. There isn’t an “after” in this case, it’s a “forever tweak”. And I just won’t, can’t, and will never quit you. So thank you. xx

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Kaitlin Green | From: Our Back Patio Reveal! (+ How Everything’s Held Up To 6 Months Of Portland Weather)

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