The Style Side officially turns 2 today! I've been reflecting on what this journey has taught me so far. Looking back is a vital step in moving forward, comparison can light the path for what we hope to achieve as our values change shape over time. I've discovered a few things over the last two years...I've discovered I can't do it all, I've discovered I want a much more simple life than I thought I did, I've discovered some weaknesses within me that I didn't know about and also some strengths which have surprised me...
While my little blog has been been alive longer than 2 years, I officially turned my hobby into a business in July 2016 and what a wild ride it’s been. I’ve learned along the way that some mothers and some women can do it all - create, parent, love, socialise, inspire & fight with fire every day to be everything all at once. I’m not one of those women! It’s a constant juggling act for me sometimes fraught with anxiety and it probably always will be but I am so grateful to have a creative job which fulfills me.
Running from Sydney back to Canberra with my little 6 month old in 2014 I found myself in a deep financial hole following my escape from an abusive relationship. My phone was cut off and my back cards cancelled, I had only my car and the clothes on my back. Eventually I picked up a casual retail job - a tough pill to swallow for me after my previous role as an area manager looking after a dozen stores across NSW, but I sucked it up and made the most of it. It turns out those retail shifts were actually some of my best days back then, being surrounded by an amazing group of woman and having a purpose outside of the hell I was living. It was hard to juggle though, my phone would be buzzing constantly in the backroom, every time I checked it my stomach would drop as dozens of threats would be staring back on me on the screen. I spent many lunch breaks walking over to the court to apply for AVO's and seek assistance in a war I didn't know how to fight. I didn't know if I would survive, the fear and panic was a part of me, like air in my lungs, it was a constant, I lived on adrenaline. I remember the daycare drop offs, the late pick ups as I worked to provide for my son, always the last Mum to collect my little one. I would run in after sitting in peak hour traffic watching the clock, it would be dark and I would see his little face through the window, so tiny and fragile. I would be wrecked with guilt, he had already been through so much.
I bought our clothes at op-shops, I drove around with an unregistered car at times because I refused to ask my parents for help, the pride in me was too strong to show how badly I was struggling. My son was well fed, but I lived on coffee. I never received child support. I was tormented with death threats and dozens of abusive texts and calls a day. I was suffering PTSD but didn’t know it at the time. I never slept. My nights were spent feeding my baby, peaking out the window, checking the locks, waking to phone calls and messages in the middle of the night terrorizing my sanity. Life was incredibly tough. I was a shell of a person but made sure I was, first and foremost, the best mother I could be, fierce with love and a sense of protection for my little boy which was greater than any pain within me. I made sure we got by. I must have done something right during that time because I have the kindest, sweetest and most lighthearted little kid sitting me beside me as I type this. He is all I could have hoped he would be, secure, funny, totally ridiculous with his creative inventions and endless energy; he is a whole lot of happy.
During this unimaginably difficult time, The Style Side became my avenue to sanity, my means of staying connected to the young girl who studied Fashion and dreamed of a big career in the city, a dream that at one point was so close it was right there for the taking. This little blog was my saving grace, I never thought it would become my job. I’m not in this for riches, I don’t expect my blog will ever make me rich hah but it has opened up doors I never could have imagined. I have discovered that I don’t want grand scale success and a skewed work life balance, I just want to do what I love and work with people and businesses I believe in. I want to inspire women to love who they are, to love one another, to enjoy the lighthearted side of life without shame - fashion, style, creativity, beauty, fitness, photography, writing - whatever makes the darkness lift, I hope women climb towards that without fear of judgement. Life can be so terribly dark, what is wrong with finding solace in the light, wherever that light comes from? I've been shamed for taking photographs of myself in clothing which I love, shamed for utilizing my body to showcase the clothing I see as art to create images which offer me a creative outlet and support small businesses in showcasing their product, I've been questioned for sharing my personal battles publicly, I have been in situations and around people whose judgement has at times made me feel smaller than I felt while in the throws of an abusive relationship. That is wrong. I don't want to live in a world where anyone is judged or shamed for dancing to their own creative beat.
I’ve learned, after “having it all” in my life before all of this which in fact was wrought with falseness, abuse and control, that grandeur and excess are not what they seem. It irks me a little when people brag about getting to do what they love as though anyone who doesn't is not as good as they are, people who harp on about their success, about not working a 9 to 5 - I have been guilty of doing this myself. In retrospect, I don't think it is right or fair to suggest you have "made it" because you work for yourself or earn x, y, z. Hard work is to be commended but more than that, a good heart is to be commended. A stable job is just as valuable as a freelance job. We each find out footing somewhere in this world, what we do for a living is so far from the point of it all. Working for someone else is just as valuable as working for yourself. How you pay your bills is irrelevant in terms of your value as a person - there is no scale of success that is not measured in happiness. There is no scale in success that is not measured in how well one treats others.
I’ve learned how important it is to keep it simple: life, work, goals, whatever you desire, keep it simple. Life can be grand, exciting, explosive, but the goodness is in the simple stuff; peace, contentment, love, the simple stuff matters most