Sometimes it’s hard to believe that seven years ago, I was working in a corporate job, hating my life and feeling entirely without purpose. But when I stop and think about it, my mind whizzes me right back to that place with ease.
In my early twenties, a loathsome job and a flat-lining career were my reality. As much as I dreamed of a life that was bolder, bigger and better, my lack of self-belief just wouldn’t allow me to make it a reality. It is no exaggeration to say that at age 22, I had pretty much given up on life. I felt doomed to a world of boredom and misery.
Whenever I feel like I haven’t done enough, accomplished enough, or achieved enough, I’m able to pull myself out of it pretty quickly by reminding myself how far I’ve come. And one of the coolest/weirdest parts of my job is that by simply doing it, I’m able to help out people who used to be in the same position as me.
My inbox is a busy place, and I often get questions about my business, my personal life, how I juggle the two, and all manner of other things. While I could just email my answers back, it makes more sense to share them with you guys, especially if they embolden you to actively create a life you’re excited about.
That’s why I’ve created this new feature, Behind The Fuchsia Curtain. It’s a little peek at what goes on, and I invite you to email me your questions!
Taylor sent me these questions, and I thought they were excellent. I hope my answers help you, uplift you, and inspire you to make some radical changes!
Q. What did you do on the side while starting up your brand? If you did, were you in a creative environment at least? How did you handle it?
Here’s what happened in the few months before I started my blog: I quit my corporate job at NZ Post, went to Burning Man, visited New York City for the first time and celebrated my birthday there, spent some time in London and Oslo, and then moved to Melbourne, Australia. I didn’t want to get another corporate or retail job, I wanted to start a magazine, but I had no money, so I decided to start with a blog instead.
I had no contingency plan, no side gig, nothin’. I tried selling clothes on eBay for a couple of months but it never amounted to anything (and I lost more money than I made). My boyfriend’s work situation was very unstable. He paid our rent, but money was extremely scarce, and that’s definitely the hardest part of starting a new project. Being stressed out about money sucks all the creativity right out of you, so I would always recommend people do whatever they can to make a little cash on the side, before their dream takes off!
Seriously: quitting your job to kickstart your dream when you have no money saved up is almost always a mistake, and creates a whole new slew of problems. If you lack the drive and desire to work on your dream in your spare time, you sure as shit won’t make it as an entrepreneur. It requires so much more energy, brainpower and effort than you could possibly imagine.
Q. What was the inspiring moment for you that made you start creating your vision? Or was it a moment of desperation?
Put simply, I felt like a corporate corpse. My life sucked — as it will tend to do when you spend 8 hours a day doing something you hate — and I couldn’t bear the thought that I would spend the rest of my days doing the same thing.
I was exhausted by working for other people and doing meaningless drudgery, and I decided that, if it came down to it, I would rather scrape by than kill myself in an office or a shop for the rest of my life.
I’m really thankful that I got to that breaking point so early on in life (age 22). I see so many people in their mid-forties whose careers are an exercise in masochism, and it’s terrible. Even if my blog implodes, I lose the desire to write, and never jot another gratitude list in my life, I’m pretty sure I’ll do whatever is necessary to avoid working for someone else.
It is simply not for me.
Now, a lot of people talk about that moment when everything changed for them: a lightbulb goes off, they receive a sign from the universe, or they are suddenly possessed with the desire to climb a mountain and move to Tibet. While this may be true for some people, for the majority of us, we will never experience that moment. No, it’s more likely that our misery and resentment and anger will slowly burn to a point where we realise we have to take the power back or we will go mad.
Don’t think that the absence of a lightning bolt is a sign that it’s okay to continue with the status quo. If you’re unhappy, do something, anything to escape from the slow crushing hand of mediocrity!
Q. Did you ever have a lull where you were having trouble staying committed to your blog? Did you envision what you’ve created now at the time, or did it just evolve naturally?
I have never had trouble staying committed to my blog… It would be like walking away from my child in a crowded parking lot! I have put so much work into it that the idea of abandoning it is something I can’t even fathom.
But I have definitely had moments where I get bored, and that is totally normal! If you do anything for long enough, you will definitely get bored. What you do after that is what will determine your level of success. To me, the only cure is to switch things up. When I get bored, I try to outdo myself: to strive harder, come up with something new, and scare myself a bit.
It’s good to feel nervous, piss people off, and branch out in new and abrupt ways. Those are the things that make life juicy and give our days their colour. I love it when people say, “Oh, I don’t like this feature” or, “I don’t agree with you.” That’s great, because for every couple of people who aren’t feelin’ it, there are plenty who LOVE it.
As for a vision, I am constantly tweaking and changing that, but when I started, it was really just an experiment. I never imagined how big it would become. And over time, I’ve expanded my view of what I do, too: I’m not just a blogger anymore, I’m also an author, a speaker, and an entrepreneur.
My career is constantly evolving, just like me, and I find it hard to sum up in a few words. I used to see this as a flaw, but now I think it’s a strength to not be boiled down to a catchy snippet. Better to be indescribable than predictable and dull!
In fact, as I was writing this, I found this by Jonathan Fields:
You change over time. What you thought your business would be evolves to what the market will sustain.
Sometimes this remains well-aligned with who you are, how you want to live your life and what you want to build. Other times, not.
There’s no shame in saying “things have changed,” then taking the actions necessary to allow you the space to redirect your energy toward something better aligned with who you are, what you want out of life, and how you wish to contribute to the world.
Q. When you finally went to N.Y., what did you leave behind? Did it effect anyone else in your life? Do you think that would have happened if you hadn’t went there just for your friend’s party?
I left behind everything and everyone I knew: my boyfriend, my friends, my family, and all my earthly possessions. I moved to NYC knowing nobody, clutching one suitcase, which I had packed for a week-long trip.
I remember kissing Si goodbye outside the New York Palace. He was heading to JFK to fly to London, and I was about to get a cab uptown to stay with a girl I’d met once before. When we said goodbye, I remember feeling so sad and knowing how much I’d miss him. Si and I expected that we would see each other again in a couple of weeks. But long-distance relationships are tricky to say the least, and as my one-week trip stretched into a month, two months, three months, what we had built over the past two years disintegrated.
As torn apart as I felt at the time, I have since learned that every time something painful happens, I discover how strong I am. It ended up being a positive thing for both of us. We have often talked about how a relationship doesn’t have to last forever in order for it to be transformative or meaningful. We both believe we were drawn together as catalysts for change in each others’ lives, and we fulfilled the purpose we were meant to serve for one another.
As for New York… I always wanted to live here, but I kept pushing the date back. I wanted to be perfectly prepared with a whole lot of cash in the bank, but the reality is that there is no such thing. Sometimes you just have to hurl yourself into the fire.
New York is the ultimate testing ground; it’s the school of hard knocks in application. Either you make it here or you don’t. A lot of people flounder for a couple of years before giving up and going home. Those of us who stick around and tough it out are a unique breed, indeed.
Moving here changed everything about my life, and I am so much more myself here than I was in any other place.
If you find a place that sparks you, you should move there. No ifs, buts or maybes.
Q. How do you handle understanding and refusing others’ expectations of you? How do you keep your image up when everyone expects so much of you?
I actually don’t feel any pressure or expectation from anyone else. This is a choice I have consciously made. Sure, I could think about the millions of pairs of eyeballs that have read my work, and totally freak out about trying to impress them and outdo myself. But thinking that way doesn’t make me any happier, any more creative, or any more prosperous.
Expectations only exist in other peoples’ heads, and I can choose to make them a part of my reality, or I can simply carry on. I just try to do the best I can, and mostly, I try to impress myself, or to write and create things I think my friends will enjoy.
A lot of bloggers freak out and think the sky will fall if they don’t post for a day, but you know what? Most of the time, no one notices. If your blog disappeared tomorrow, in the grand scheme of things, it wouldn’t matter at all. No matter which way you look at it, people have their own lives, and we don’t factor into them as much as we might imagine! Having this attitude helps me to look at things in a light-hearted manner and keep my ego in check! (Well, kind of… !)
Q. Do you ever get annoyed because people try to use you and how do you know if someone is being genuine?
I have a pretty good bullshit detector, and I easily sense when someone looks at me as another rung on an imaginary ladder. It doesn’t really aggravate me: I understand where they’re coming from and why, but I don’t give them a lot of time or energy.
I don’t do that dance, which is something people find out pretty quickly. And this isn’t a massive problem for me… I’m not exactly Michael Jackson!
Q. What was your journey before your blog was your main goal? Did you struggle at all to find a purpose when you were young?
YES. Until I started this blog, my life felt like a disaster.
I had no purpose and I felt like I was completely adrift, simply bumping into one bad situation after the next. I was bitter, cynical and pissed off… And I wasn’t afraid to let everyone know it! But at the same time, beneath it all, there was an undercurrent of hope. I wanted — more than anything — to be happy, optimistic, positive. I didn’t want to be the girl sneering at others, I didn’t always want to be on the outside looking in. But I didn’t know where to start.
I wanted to be a writer but I just couldn’t see how that would ever be a reality. I have since learned that you should never let so-called “reality” get in the way of what you really want, because if you want it badly enough, you’ll move mountains to make it happen.
Starting my blog gave me an outlet for my creativity, which was such a major part of what was missing. When you have been a writer — and when you have known, in the very back of your skull, that you are a writer, since childhood — not being able to do what you love regularly feels like slow death. Having the opportunity to share what you LOVE is a total life-changer. It has bestowed me with a sense of purpose, direction and self-confidence, which is pretty remarkable.
But that answer doesn’t help you much.
One thing that I did recently which I recommend to anyone in a similar position — that of searching for deeper meaning but not finding much to grab onto — is take the Fascination Advantage test. It’s about $30, and it shows you your unique strengths. My results told me I was the Trendsetter, a combination of Rebellion and Prestige, which basically makes me completely unsuitable for a corporate environment! Gaining a basic understanding of your personality in this way can be immensely helpful, and at the very least will show you what doesn’t work.
If you’d like to know more about the test (as well as how to be more fascinating), Marie Forleo interviewed the founder, Sally Hogshead, and they overturned some real treasures as they talked.
Ultimately, becoming the person you were supposed to be is hard work. It’s easier to toe the line, get a shitty job, marry some average jerk, and live a life of overwhelming mehhhh.
But if you want to be spectacular…
If you want to shock the hell out of yourself…
And if you want to live a life which gives you fucking zings of delight all the way up your spine…
You gotta take some risks.
And I’m so much happier out here, living on the fringes, than I ever was trapped in the machine.
Ecstasy and evolution,
 I really think #corporatecorpse should be an Instagram tag for sad office portraits… Don’t you?
Title image by Miles Aldridge.