4 years ago, I was stuck in a routine. Work, home, work, home and the occasional meet up with friends. I thought, there should be more to do. Something productive, something to get me out of the routine, something that always made me feel accomplished. I realised, I needed a creative outlet. Hence, this blog.
Fortunately enough, that was also the time I started traveling and had enough income to push out a few fashion write ups a month. I had stories to tell, photos to share and reason to create. Back then, I didn’t need anyone’s validation. I kept it my secret with a few. Actually, one, my boyfriend. My audience count was just 1 for a long time and that didn’t matter to me. I was just happy to be curating this online diary of mine. Happy to be creating.
Photo: Aboard Emirates, traveling from the UK, April 22 2018, a remake of a photo I did back on my first trip outside the country and my first trip to the UK, July 2013. Simpler times.
Months passed and I finally had enough content to share with the rest of the world. I didn’t want to whilst it still had 5 stories, in case I decide it wasn’t the path I wanted. I remember how scared and anxious I was with how people will perceive me. It was like opening a window to see me, my quirks, my likes and dislikes. A window to freely judge me. Sharing to people was never a priority because it frightened me and honestly, it still does. But I carried on because it made me happy every time I edited photos, or wrote anecdotes or whenever I clicked published and the fact that I already had 5 readers.
The blog started to gain traction, I was featured here and there, and found a blogger family in Cebu Fashion Bloggers. I found a different sense of happiness, the one that depended on numbers. I gained followers, likes and comments and it made me happy. The attention I got fueled my love to create even more. I wanted to please everyone. I wanted validation in every post, every Instagram photo, every Facebook status. I ate statistics for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The 5 readers became 20, to 50, to 100 and so on. I felt proud. People talked to me and took time to tell me they love what I do. Asking me what I was wearing, where I was eating, where I was traveling. It felt good to share, be heard and be taken as an inspiration.
I also saw how others ran their business. Yes, it ultimately became one. I had opportunities in exchange for money, for experiences, for clothes, for even more attention. A brand. That’s who I was becoming. Of course, I started to think like one. Who wouldn’t? The bourgeoisie, the media and the important were suddenly within arm’s reach. I had to present myself like I was worthy enough to dine or be in the same event with them. That my brand had something to offer. That I am a brand people should know about.
And this is where I went wrong. I treated this path like I was back in school. I had to excel, I had to get good grades, I had to be in the honor’s list. To my dismay, this isn’t just a textbook I can study nor a test I can perfect.
I gave myself deadlines, forced myself to churn ideas non-stop, made the standards higher. I stopped blogging about the little things or life updates because that didn’t perform as well as my fashion posts. I created content for everyone else but me.
I remember getting so mad because I didn’t have anyone to shoot the content I wanted. That when I finally got help, it rained on shoot day. That I had an amazing lookbook idea but the clothes didn’t arrive on time. That I didn’t get to post many original ideas before anyone else because I did not have the resource to. Or when I finally published one, one I’ve worked hard for and really proud of, only a few read it.
I expected myself, a one-woman team, to produce quality content as often as the blogger who had writers, editors, photographers and unlimited resources to travel and buy fashion trends. I had the passion and the right ideas but I didn’t have the control to not beat myself up for not being able to execute it. I beat myself up for not having as much following as the others.
It also didn’t help when I learned of people cheating and buying their way to the top. I decided to keep up, tried to cheat the algorithm, liked posts in exchange for likes, commented for the sake of getting comments, followed for a follow back. I tried to do what everyone else was doing in the hopes that I wouldn’t get left behind. Except, I did. I haven’t grown for months and that disappointed me. Worse, I stopped being honest to who I am. I’ve forgotten why I’m here in the first place. I turned all these into a nasty number game. Giving myself undue pressure to be like everyone else.
I mean, who cares if I didn’t post on time? Or if I didn’t get to wear that trend first? Or that I didn’t get to visit a tourist spot before everyone else?
I was exhausted.
I wasn’t in the same place as when I started. I had so much more going on behind the scenes, too. I had pressure coming from all sides and this one definitely categorized under unnecessary. So, I stopped everything Ron Does Things. I gave myself intermittent breaks on social media. Going away for a week at a time. Then a month. Then more than a month. Then it got to a point where it didn’t hurt anymore if I couldn’t post a photo or a story in weeks. I’m losing followers as we speak (or as I write and as you read), and it finally doesn’t matter again. Quitting doesn’t seem to be such a stupid idea anymore, and I’d happily deactivate across all social media.
Until yesterday. I had the sudden urge to create again. I miss it. I miss creating without pressure. I miss writing stories. I miss curating my own galleries. After all, this blog helped me stay sane when all I ever did was stare at codes and computers. I want the creative outlet I craved for without making it such a big deal.
So, I suppose I won’t be quitting after all. What a clickbait title, eh? But maybe, just maybe, I’ll do it right this time. If not, and I decide to disappear again, you know why.