disclaimer; a long blog post that I started long ago. A result from over analysing social media, confusion, frustration and venting. enjoy!
I don’t know about you but over the past year or two I’ve been finding the noise of social media all too much. It feels CONSTANT and somewhat repetitive, narcissistic, fake yet weirdly it holds a presence in our lives. I realise that I may have slammed the industry I work in but you must admit that the volume is at an all time high. It can be overwhelming, bad for our mental health, influence for bad and not good and silence voices that may not seem to be topical, trendy or beautiful.
The question is, how and when do we realise that we need to change in our relationship with social media? Especially when you have developed a toxic codependency relationship with an app. Codependent because the app needs you as a customer (or you as ‘their product’) and you ‘need’ the app for business or simply interacting with friends.
My business is mostly online and social media is a huge part of that so responsibility comes from whatever I put out. It’s also extremely easy for me to go scrolling down the instagram rabbit hole of beautiful interiors, people boasting about productivity, how active, healthy and wonderful peoples lives are etc.
It can affect us all
Sadly, I found myself drifting further away from my own creativity and excitement for sharing on social media and my blog. The weight of how you are valued via an app can get a little heavy. Alongside the previous mentioned social media pressures, there’s also the business side of social media where you, as a business, are judged on the value of numbers such as followers, engagement, impressions etc. In my case there have been many times where payment for my work is based on my follower numbers rather than the work provided. And my frustration began to grow. I understand that working on social media campaigns require reach and engagement, I get it, however work is work. People deserve to be paid fairly.
I think generally social media got to me. I needed to quiet the noise. It can get a bit too much sometimes. With this overwhelm I hadn’t produced as much content as I’d have liked. Which is partly because of certain health issues I have. I’m not going to go into it now but living with health problems while balancing work life, not know how you’ll feel each day can be stressful at times.
Often I do the predictable, pick up my phone, infinity scroll, observing peoples ‘perfect lives’. Leading to increased levels of anxiety and plummeting self confidence (I’m not alone in this I’m sure). Of course I understand that this is self induced by becoming subconsciously addicted to social media. But it’s a hard place to avoid when it’s a big part of your business and life these days. A common consensus after chatting with friends and a people in the industry is that social media has in someway put pressure on all of us. A lot of us are feeling it. Lockdown didn’t help either!
The need for change
It was actually February 2019 when I’d had enough of feeling this way after a certain anxiety led freak out. So I took some steps to make time for myself. Reassessing what I wanted to share, who I’m following online and what work I actually enjoy doing. Like I mentioned before, I’ve got health issues and on one particularly poorly day I imagined being in hospital again, I asked myself ‘if this was it, would I be proud of the work I have achieved?”. To be perfectly honest, the answer was a harsh no.
I like the work I’ve produced, I LOVE the design industry, of course I do. But in recent years I’ve not achieved what I’ve wanted to. Having many years blogging I can tell you that the industry has changed A LOT. And I often get bundled up in a blogger/influencer lane that essentially didn’t feel like a fit for me. Which left me feeling quite distant to the blogging world. I wanted to get back to the path I was once so passionate about, without the crippling weight of comparison, anxiety and frustration. I really missed being creatively free and inspired. So essentially I needed a break.
Shifting my work life in order to make enjoyable and creative again is (part of) the answer. One big step (and not very business savvy for the social media industry) is that I’m no longer chasing numbers, followers or likes. GASP. I do appreciate each follower, like and share. I love to chatting with my followers and I’ve made great friends over the years too. Not to mention the amazing work I’ve been able to get. SO it’s not all bad I simply don’t want the numbers pressure on my shoulders right now.
The main question is, what work do I actually want to do? What makes me happy? Do I have to have the numbers to do that work?
I’m not looking to be the most popular person in the room. The idea makes me want to curl up into a ball. Nor will I continue to link my worth and my professional worth to a social media number. My knowledge is worth way more than that. So you get it, “Hannah just do what makes you happy”, right? It’s not always an easy path to take.
yah yah, I’m trying.
To be clear, this is currently a work in progress. Many freelancers often find themselves re-assessing and re-structuring their business every few months to keep up with the industry. I’m not alone. Change needs to happen for personal and professional growth. And using social media platforms will continue to be a large part of my work but now my focus is to ensure that my creativity and enjoyment are at the forefront.
Rename, Remove, Listen, Read and doing that living stuff
After realising that I didn’t feel connected with the blog name ‘Hannah in the house’ any longer, I changed my blog for my name sake. Which I did for my birthday in 2019. This was a positive step to embrace my own creativity and not hide behind a weird alias. I wanted to be proud of introducing myself again so we welcome www.hannahtrickett.com.
I made a big point to enjoy more of the simple things in life rather than being a spectator. I’ve shared some of what I do over on Instagram from sea swimming, especially cold water swimming and dipping, bike rides, stepping into nature and enjoying art galleries. Basically enjoying and experiencing the wonderful things Copenhagen has to offer.
To manage my anxiety I removed myself from all groups on social media and turned notifications OFF. I found myself becoming increasingly stressed as soon as I saw a notification. The groups I had joined aimed to be like supportive groups for bloggers but during that time of increased anxiety it didn’t work for me. So I stepped away. I then started to listen to a few podcasts about business and self improvement. As helpful as their intent, this also became too much noise and a pressure to perform. Instead of following the advice I became frozen and fell into a deeper anxiety hole.
Thoughts kept on popping up in my head “how has everyone got their shit together?‘, ‘I must be doing something wrong‘, ‘maybe I’m not as good as other people and I should step away‘……..
So again, I unfollowed, it wasn’t healthy to keep that hanging over my head. I did find some great podcasts however, ones that didn’t push productivity, instead a healthy enthusiasm for design, creativity and culture. My current favourites podcasts include :
- The Modern House (absolute favourite)
- The Archipelago Podcast
- The Idealists
- Monocle weekly
- The Creative Voyage podcast
One podcast episode spoke out to me in particular, from the Archipelago podcast a with an episode called ‘you say yes, I say no‘.
The interviewee Svend Brinkmann a professor of psychology at Aalborg University and the author of several bestselling “anti-self-help books” gives insight to the oppressive ideology of the ‘yes’ world, the damaging side affect of social media and the consumer economy. His clear yet brief explanation of his philosophy for the joy of missing out and stand points felt very close to what I believe and wish to learn more about.
I’m no philosopher or academic but after listening to this podcast twice, reading Svend’s book ‘The Joy of Missing Out: The Art of Self-Restraint in an Age of Excess‘. I’m drawn to read more about Stoicism, maybe if I can understand a few Aristotle and Søren Kierkegaard exerpts that would be super interesting.
Currently I find the ‘self -help’ industry rife in the social media world. It”s everywhere from life coaches, daily quotes and constant ‘positive’ thinking messages. It’s ALL OVER INSTAGRAM and I have personally found this damaging to my mental health and I had no idea why until I heard Svend Brinkmann’s point of view.
He also touches on the best selling self help book ‘The Power of positive Thinking’ by Norman Vincent Peale became an instrumental influence for Donald Trump. In short this ‘positive thinking‘ rhetoric has become gospel for one of the most dangerous US presidents of modern times. Peale even officiated Donald Trump’s first wedding. eww. Now deceased Peale’s work and words still continue to thrive in the self help world selling over 5 million copies of his book and counting.
My point here is that what is seemingly ‘self help’ can in fact be so selfish that can damage other people’s lives. Maybe a little off topic for my personal re-evaluation of social media but this has made me reflect on who I listen to, take advice from and question. I’ve unfollowed quite a few people too.
Listening to the design and culture podcasts that I mentioned above have helped me step away from the pool of self help in social media, that made me feel pretty crap. I’m learning to step away from this toxic positivity. Which surprisingly has freed some mental space to find my creative path once again.
So when I say “reshaping my business’ I mean rediscovering creative passions and including those in my life and business
Because my career has become so varied and then not enjoying everything that I as doing, I chose to look back at my education and career to fully appreciate how I’ve grown. I’ve written down a list of my creative skills that I’ve learnt over the years. This range from Ceramics at University, Interior design in London, Styling, blogging, writing etc. Then pinning down what I’ve missed doing. It became clear that I sorely missed ceramics.
I’ve attended sculpture classes in Copenhagen for the past 3 years which I love. But this wasn’t enough, I have felt that I wanted more tangible creativity in my day to day. Essentially I’ve missed being in a ceramic studio which were my favourite times at university, I cried when I had to leave. I can’t explain why I never gave myself chance to see it through other than I’ve always thought that it was unachievable. I could never afford a studio so I avoided the heartbreak.
This June (2020) I signed up for the Yōnobi ceramic wheel throwing class which was incredible. I never tried wheel throwing at university as I was quite the 9 part mold slip casting enthusiast. Then I couldn’t stop. So I enrolled in the Tortus workshop, an intense week long workshop where I levelled up my wheel throwing skills. Now officially obsessed, I’ve become a member in the ceramic studio where I can create and practice my ceramic skills as I’d like.
Who knows where it will go. For now I want to increase my skills, get better. We’ll see. I’m enjoying it and I’m alright for someone who’s only started throwing 4 months ago. Why the hell did I ever think I had to choose between ceramics and design? I love both so much, so I am going to do both.
As for my blogging/writing/photography work I’m keeping it going but now with an even tighter control on what I share. Rather than sharing all that is new in the design world I wish for my work to be much more curated. I hope to continue sharing my love for well made, considered design, functionalism, and modernist values.
My work is a mix and I love it that way. Routine is something I run from so having a variety of work makes me happy. Having that creative freedom that I was missing means so much. It feels good to change it up.
Last lesson I keep telling myself – Stop comparing
Easier said than done. But one realisation that I laughed at myself about was that, for some reason I was comparing my life to a bunch of healthy, financially secure women in their late twenties/early thirties. Wow, how instagram can trip you up.
I’m 37 and my life is drastically different to the people I’ve compared myself to. So why was I constantly putting myself down, wanting their life? That’s the beauty of media. I’m not immune to it, it’s hard not to compare sometimes, we all do it.
I’m also not innocent either as I create content that may seem aspirational. I style dreamy shots and beautiful products. But when it makes you feel crap about your own life you need to turn off the channel. I learnt that the hard way. I won’t portray a life that isn’t real but my job is also to enhance a product/design, in doing so the photograph has to be styled. I’d like to keep that quite clear. I hope it translates. It’s a work in progress.
My work, my business – what to expect
Well. I wrote a long list of criteria, explaining in each point what I will do and what to expect from me. Though now I’ve decided not to show it. I’m keeping that private. I don’t want to induce performance anxiety on myself or anyone else reading this. What you will see is me being me. A wonderfully creative mix of work. It may not seem so different from an external view point but behind the scenes it’s much happier.
One thing I can assure you is that I won’t be writing any self help advice!