It has been a while since I wrote a blog post. But it is a good thing. And now that I did, what has two images of the same subject got to do anything with it?
June 27th, 2017 is when I published my first ever blog post, taking a plunge into the big booming blogging world. That is also when my second born had just turned one and my eldest would be four soon. Two kids under five is when I decided to have the third- my food blog! What is the big deal about it, one would wonder. Women do that all the time, have multiple kids and manage home and a full time job, a lot of times all without much help. And here I was, with just one full time job-of being a mom and managing the home on the side with a full time live in help. Fairly easy life!
That is the kind of story I told myself. There was no reason why I shouldn’t put more on my plate. After all, the world seems to be doing it all and doing it well!
So, I did! I managed my household, ran it impeccably (if that is even possible!), showed up for my family and friends every single time, cooked meals, started to teach myself food styling and photography from scratch, created recipes and shared them on the blog on social media and worked on building my audience on instagram. And I did it without slacking on any account, telling myself I could do it and ace it all.
After all, the world seems to be doing it all and doing it well!
I worked hard, on every single front, gave it my best, all single-handedly. But the curve isn’t always linear is it? Hard work and commitment do not proportionately equate to stellar results, at least not right away! The harder I worked, the more I shared for the love of sharing and helping, the more opinions I received.Not many understood what I was doing, few cared genuinely and fewer still, offered help, because the latter requires some effort, doesn’t it? But opinions and judgements , aren’t they spontaneous and effortless? So, they were abundantly bestowed- Are these your own recipes?, Do you actually do everything on your own? How do you monetise it? Are these your images? At first it was hard to turn a deaf ear and blind eye , but I taught myself to do that too!
And somewhere down the line, managing needless expectations, chasing numbers (all fellow creators would understand what THAT does to your creative spirit and well being), I lost the joy-of creating, sharing and helping. Three things that used to come so naturally to me! I could sense being stuck in my photography journey and not being able to improve. But I pushed through as that had now become second nature and was kind of expected.After all, isn’t that all “successful” people do? Push through and keep pushing through?
As if things weren’t hard enough, the anxiety COVID brought along with the restrictions on outdoor time and not to forget homeschooling (the constant ramble of not one but two “BBC stations” playing in the background and multitude of reminders plus the added responsibility of being a teacher, helping the children with all kinds of school work!) twisted the knife in the wound. The alarm bells still did not ring in my head.
After all the world seems to be doing it all and doing it well!
Until one day, earlier this year I injured my neck severely. I will spare you the boring details but in those weeks that I battled pain and sleepless nights I wondered what most people in my situation would- Why me?
And why now? When finally after all these years I was about to get some breathing room in my life with schools reopening as the COVID cases dropped, why did I have to be paralysed with pain? And then it dawned on me, this pain was a sign and a blessing from the Universe to help me slow down and make use of this breathing room to do just that- breathe, relax and recharge and not hustle, hurry and hassle!
And I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and without any guilt whatsoever .
Each time the itch to rush and do it all would surface , I would tell myself-slow, steady and one thing at a time. As the muck settled, things got clearer, priorities fell into place and the need to bulldoze through life started to ebb away.
Something else became very clear to me in the last six months- no matter how much I loved sharing and helping and building a community, I needed to stay true to myself and my social media image did not need to adhere to the hustle culture.Even though it came at the cost of slow or no “growth” on the platforms, contrary to what most social media platforms are trying to push-toxic ,mindless sharing which is little or zero value add in people’s lives and more than anything detrimental to mental health of the one who creates and of those who consume that content. And not to mention an absolutely unnecessary rat race and competition it creates amongst the creatives. I understood that the so called “influencer life” is not for me. Not in the popular sense anyway. If I did influence people (or even one individual) it would have to be in a way that truly adds value to their lives and not an “add” to my numbers or pockets. I had to go through what I went through to gain this perspective though.
I figured true growth, real growth happens when you pause. And nothing should come at the cost of who you truly are!
This clarity has also helped me focus my energies better on my inner circle, developing and honing my passion for photography and building my business. A simple example are these two images of strawberries, the first one was clicked late last year after almost one hour of trying out various set ups and in spite of everything the result was not what I had visualised . The second one was a outcome of a well rested mindful attempt. Which is a better one is anyone’s guess! Amazing what a well rested quiet mind can achieve, isn’t it?
The hustle culture is poisonous on so many levels than we realise and we owe it to our youth and children and the society at large to bring it out of fashion and never let it make a comeback!
Constant sharing and resharing and peeking into the lives of others to feel good (or pity) our own? Are these the values we are going to pass to our children? Are we doing them any favour? Some questions we all need to ask ourselves, irrespective of the fact that we share for personal or professional reasons, on our private or public social media accounts!
In my humble, opinion no society can thrive in the truest sense when more than half its populace is dependent on prescription drugs (which is essentially what hustle culture leads to)and the remaining are pretending (and convincingly so!) to have it all together (pun intended) with Caffeine and Botox !
Cheers and hats off to those who continue to thrive on hustle day after day but I am definitely not one of those and I have made peace with that fact.