Last weekend started out as a pretty typical ordinary weekend. Coffee was first on the agenda. I had plans to catch up over coffee with Tiff from Velé on Saturday morning. Getting dressed was a breeze with my weekend uniform as of late: a jumpsuit and easy slides. I grabbed my usual coffee shop accessories: my journal, my sunglasses, my Hydroflask water bottle, and my KeepCup before heading out the door. The drive there was easy with none of the usual LA traffic. Parking was tough with all of the usual hipster traffic in Highland Park. I found parking a few blocks away, but it was free, so it was a win in my book. As I got out of the car, I looked for my phone to text Tiff to let her know that I was there early and that there was no rush on her end, but my phone was nowhere to be found.
When I realized that my phone was not with me, a flood of emotions washed over me: fear that I had lost my phone; pride that I had gotten to my destination without Google Maps; nostalgia for the simpler time before smart phones; relief that no one could reach me; and freedom that I could really go anywhere and it could be private and my own little secret. As I walked from my car to the cafe, I felt light and happy. I ordered my iced Americano, found a table for Tiff and I, and immediately began to journal. The first words I wrote down: “forgot phone at home—is that symbolic of how little I care about it or use it?” Little did I know just how pivotal that morning would be.
Since then, I’ve gone on to notice that I actually leave my phone at home pretty often because I did it once more that day; that I really don’t know where my phone is half the time; and that it’s rarely ever fully charged. This observation of the stark change in my relationship with my phone sent me down a spiral of questions seeking clarity: Where do I want to go from here? What is the purpose of Instagram? Why do I use it and what is it for? Is Instagram even necessary anymore? Am I running away? How do I want to move forward with brand partnerships? What do I want blogging/Instagram to look like in my thirties? Who do I want to be in my thirties?
And while I don’t really have concrete answers for all those questions yet, something has become crystal clear for me: I’ve changed. A lot. And so my blog/Instagram must change if I am to continue putting energy into them.
I started blogging at 19. I am now 29. It’s crazy to think that blogging has probably remained the most consistent thing in my adult life. Through all of life’s crazy twists and turns, I always had a space online to call my own—a place to retreat into; a place to express myself; and a place to reflect and process. The purpose and aesthetics of my blog have shifted over the years as I’ve changed and grown, but at its core, my blog has always documented my personal style journey. Over the last ten years, my style has evolved from wearing only color to now wearing no color; from consisting of disposable clothes to now a careful curation of clothes; and from reflecting trends and my want to fit in with everyone else to now reflecting who I am and my lifestyle. Over the last ten years, I have evolved from constantly apologizing to others to now being unapologetically myself; from putting others’ needs before my own to now doing what’s best for me; and from conforming to louder and stronger opinions to now holding fast to my own beliefs. So what does this mean as I begin what can potentially be another decade of blogging?
When I first started teaching at 22, my principal at the time would always ask: What’s the purpose of this lesson? What’s the point? Why are you teaching it? Ever since then, purpose has always been important for me and at the forefront of my mind, and not just in the classroom. Whenever I’m feeling lost and confused, I often go back to the why: Why am I doing this? Why did I begin? What’s the point? Up until now, my why was always pretty clear—to document my personal style journey. While that journey is far from over, I think I’ve figured out what is undoubtedly my personal style. I know what I like, what flatters my body, and what works for my lifestyle—and I don’t anticipate straying too far from that. My why then shifted to include documenting my minimalism journey. While that journey is also far from over, I think I’ve figured out how to shop more mindfully and intentionally. I’m not sure I need to continue to (publicly) keep track of my wear count or what I buy to hold me accountable. So what now? What’s the point of continuing to blog? Why should I continue? Do I even need to keep up blogging? These are among the many questions that have been rolling around my mind this year, and also have snowballed over into questioning my why of Instagram: Why am I spending time on Instagram? Why am I posting? What’s the point of my posts?
Over the last decade, I’ve had my ups and downs with Instagram. Through all of Instagram’s changes, I have always been thankful for the people I’ve met through that little app. When I found the ethical fashion community, I thought I finally found my people: I felt like I was a part of something greater than myself. I was with likeminded people. I learned so much from those inspiring people. The external validation of what I was doing and the changes I was making in my life, felt really, really good—so good, it was kind of addicting. I felt good about spending time on Instagram because I was using it for good rather than mindlessly consuming information. I thought I had found a new and better why for being on Instagram. It wasn’t until last December that I realized that my underlying why was the same as it has always been: to fit in somewhere.
Events from last December will always be something I now fondly will look back on where I can pinpoint the start of my awakening.
I still think back to December a lot. I do not regret the choices I made, but what happened then has forced me to make a choice: Do I shrink back and conform so that I can fit into a community or do I learn to take up my own space and hold strong to my beliefs?
Since then, the ethical fashion community has changed simultaneously as I’ve changed. Call-out culture is even more prevalent today than it was last Winter. There are more posts and stories about current sales and new-in pieces than about finding new ways to wear old favorites or even about the people who make our clothes. There are more ads encouraging me to buy something than personal stories being told. After seeing these kinds of posts day in and day out, I suddenly started to feel like I wasn’t enough—that I needed to change my beliefs, that I needed to say and do certain things to be “ethical,” and that I needed to buy new things to stay relevant. I wrestled with this feeling for a long while until I realized that maybe, just maybe, we weren’t so likeminded anymore after all. Maybe, just maybe, the ethical fashion community isn’t where I belong. Maybe, just maybe, Instagram is not so much of a place I come to for community anymore. And maybe, no definitely, I am enough.
This year, the change in the ethical fashion community encouraged me to dive deeper into minimalism. I am continuing to declutter things in my life that don’t spark joy or have a purpose. I am continuing to unbecome all that I think I should be. I am becoming who I am meant to be. In this process, it has become clearer what minimalism and shopping ethically means to me and for me. To me, shopping minimally is shopping ethically, and so I want to chase minimalism harder than I ever have moving forward.
I have never felt more alone or more sure of myself in my whole entire life.
This year of unbecoming has brought a whole lot of clarity for me. I’ve realized that I don’t need external validation anymore. I know I am doing the best I can in my sustainability and minimalism journeys. I no longer need to post a pretty picture of my coffee in a reusable cup to feel good about lowering my waste. I no longer need to post my outfits to feel good about shopping ethically and minimally. I no longer need to fit in somewhere I don’t belong. Forgetting my phone on that fateful day really brought some things to light: I don’t want to be influenced anymore. I want to be inspired. I don’t want to influence through consuming anymore. I want to connect through sharing. I don’t want to hide behind the label of being a fashion blogger anymore. I want to create freely and fearlessly. I want Instagram to be a place where I can simply be myself.
I am slowly unfollowing influencers and brands who don’t inspire me, and replacing them with artists and writers who do inspire me to embrace the artist and writer I am. I want my photos to evoke a certain mood and to tell a story. So much of how I am–how I dress, how I act, how I think–is a reflection of my mood, and I want to embrace that. I want to post even more slowly, more intentionally, and more unapologetically. I want my blog and Instagram to center more around my voice rather than my style. I always thought it was ironic that I fell into fashion blogging for so long when I’ve never thought of myself as a fashionable person. I have found that wearing mostly black has encouraged me to speak out and to express myself in other ways–through my writing and my photography–rather than through my clothes. I do think of myself as a creative, kind, and moody person, and so this is the part of me that I want to give more of my energy to. This is the part of me that I want to show more of on Instagram.
As much of a planner I am, it’s interesting I never thought of how I wanted blogging and Instagram to look like in my thirties until now. Maybe I never thought I’d be doing this still (I am a Sagittarius after all), but since I am, I want it be different. And so, it is going to be different.