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counterculture: becoming velveteen in 2017

countercultureTaylor P.Comment
"Untitled" by Kathryn Young

"Untitled" by Kathryn Young

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.
— Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

 

 b e c o m i n g 

In 2016 I was faced with the daunting task of reevaluating myself as a person and as a company. I was forced (sometimes kicking and screaming) to embrace my imperfections as a new mother, daughter, girlfriend, and brand identity and it caused many direct and indirect changes in how I decided to move forward with this brand and its complexities.

I came into the beginning of the 2016 a very broken person without a definitive direction. I had lost my job I loved, completely lost my motivation, a lifelong dream felt like it had died, and I was in a very painful relationship that was sucking the very heart out of me. I became much colder as a person, more distracted, and the blog suffered as a result. But in the midst of chaos there are little miracles that give us greater insight into who we are and where we need to be.

2016 was a year of profound change for me on a personal level and it helped me reconnect with my higher self, my true self, in ways that were nearly a decade in the making. I became a new mom after a very horrible pregnancy and childbirth experience but it gave me strength I never knew I had and the confidence to let go of fears about myself and my competency as a human being. I had to take time out, which I never had the time to do the past several years, and that made me reevaluate who I was as a person and where I wanted to be. I was able to do a lot of self-reflection and the mental and emotional footwork that can only come in solitude and time which made me a better person in all aspects of my life. It started out as a very destructive year and ended as a very healing one in which I came to terms with the fact that I was stronger and more capable than I ever realized. Even when tragedy might have struck, as it almost did multiple times this year in sometimes major ways, I was able to overcome fear and anxiety in ways I previously had been unable to. 

b e c o m i n g  REAL 

I transitioned into this new year learning that success isn't always a linear process. Sometimes it means taking two steps forward and two steps back (or, in my case, ten) to be able to articulate yourself correctly. Sometimes it means reevaluating the image you see for yourself and making adjustments to your perception of who you are as a person versus who you are as a quantitative brand. Talking about ourselves so often while engaging in a balancing act between being publicly present  and disengaging our egos can be a tough act to follow at times.

I think as a creative person it can be quite difficult to put yourself out there as a brand in a way that doesn't become disingenuous and self-serving. For me, being introverted in an extroverted way often becomes uncomfortable. You are letting people into your private life or at the very least a carefully curated image of who you are and what you want to present as a divine truth of your character or vision. Because at the end of the day, on some level, it is a business or a gallery showing-- there is really no escaping the reality that it is not intrinsically genuine 100% of the time no matter how much you wish it were otherwise. That would be impossible to achieve even with the best intentions. And by speaking so much about my personal experiences, I fear that it comes across as a level of narcissism and superiority that doesn't actually exist within me. I am much happier behind the brand, behind the scenes where I am not a figurehead for a cause. 

In my daily life, I often strive for being honest to a fault and transparent so it is sometimes difficult for me to "put myself out there" when I really just want to bury my head in the sand and pretend someone else is manning the helm that is prettier, wealthier, and more creative. We often want to come across as more put together, more light and airy, more fun and vibrant-- all while engaging in the daily struggles of existence that never make it from pen to paper because of fear or hesitation to show what is more sacred and less interesting to the masses.

For myself as a company it has been a long and arduous journey fraught with may hats and may mistakes along the way. I feel as if I am always embarking on some new venture or another. This blog has been a labor of love-- of finding what works and what doesn't. Life gets in the way and despite my best intentions it usually leads to a hiatus as a result of the ill-fated writer's block that comes with piling too many things on your plate at once. I'm surprised I'm not a culinary genius at this point with having so many pans in the fire! Consistency has been a disappointing and unachievable goal placed on the back burner somewhere between careful planning and differing reality.

This distilled version of myself is something I struggle with, as I often think if we push data too far in one direction we become flat and meaningless but the other direction we can come off as narcissistic and petty. For anyone that knows me on a deeply personal level it is probably quite surprising that I would choose to brand myself so publicly as I am an intensely private person. I struggled with poor self-image most of my life and was extremely uncomfortable when put in situations where I had to share myself or sell my persona as something shiny or flawless. 

I grew up with my nose in books and my head in the stars so I am not interested in the spotlight but as a lifestyle blogger I know that branding is important. You are selling yourself as a brand and not a breathing entity at times and need to meet the expectations of your readers even if they differ from actual concrete reality. This can be often be disconcerting and exhausting, though, because there is often a pretty obvious disconnect between the integrity of who you are as an evolving person and the stability of your image as a "brand." We don't think it matters but as a rule most people don't like change and there is an unspoken level of perfection that we like to see other people strive for in order to inspire that vision of perfection for ourselves. 

I am probably the least likely person to win the perfection award but perfection can be achieved when we stop holding unrealistic expectations of what perfection is which has been a tough lesson for me in life. So if I have any actual goals this year for this blog on a personal level, they are to be more articulate  and more genuine as a person and as a brand. You will likely not see perfection this year but instead be privy to little imperfections, tiny failures, and something more representative of being more tangible.

 


For the new year, my current process is three simple words: BE MORE VULNERABLE.

What is your mantra for the new year? 

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