Andy Williams wasn’t wrong when he sang “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” The festive season has always been my favourite time of the year! I love Christmas movies, Christmas music, and all of the sparkle and decorations. It fills me with joy to see everyone in such a happy, celebratory mood. I squeal with delight when I spot toddlers dressed up as reindeer, elves or Christmas puddings. And, as an extrovert, I love the fact there is so much to do, and so many people to see.
However, last Christmas I was absolutely miserable.
Throughout 2019, I’ve tried to be as open as possible about my career crisis. And it was around this time last year that the cycle truly began. It started out as a bad case of Instagram insecurity…
Over the course of the Christmas period I was constantly comparing myself to others; and I felt like my Instagram engagement and following weren’t impressive enough. I would spend hours on the platform, every single day, digging myself deeper into this hole. (The great irony is that my following was actually 1k higher in December 2018, and my engagement probably 3x better than it is now.)
Ultimately this Instagram insecurity was just a sign that I was feeling incredibly unhappy and unchallenged in my career. I never set out to earn a living on a photo-sharing platform, but throughout 2017 and 2018 my professional life veered off in that direction.
This lack of fulfilment finally made itself known around Christmas, last year, But it took me a good six months to unravel the emotions I suddenly felt weighed down by. So Christmas 2018 was just an absolute head**ck!
I didn’t feel festive AT ALL. I was barely able to enjoy Elf – my favourite movie of all time (which I can quote from start to finish). I didn’t feel particularly sociable. I wanted to hide away, but spending time alone made me feel even worse. I couldn’t snap out of the funk, and I hate being a Negative Nancy (apologies to anyone called Nancy) so, on top of everything else, I was also beating myself up and feeling guilty for being so miserable/ungrateful.
Overall, it was not my finest hour. And that’s why I’m hoping to make up for it by having the best Christmas, this year. Here’s how I plan to make December 2019 awesome…
How I’m Making This Christmas Better:
– Deleting Instagram for the week of Christmas. Last year I deleted Instagram from my phone for a few days over Christmas. And it was so freeing! I still felt a lot of pressure to be creating and sharing content right up to Christmas Eve, though. And I’ve only just realised that I don’t owe anyone this (and, also, no one would miss me if I didn’t). So this year I’m planning to delete IG for at least a full week. Maybe even longer. I want to just be in the moment, and disconnect.
– Kitten cuddles. My beloved cat Mr Twiggles passed away this summer at the age of 17. It was so heartbreaking, and there’s been a feline-shaped hole in our family ever since. Last weekend my parents adopted two adorable kittens, who are soooo cute and cheeky, and I can’t wait to enjoy all the kitten cuddles when I go home for Christmas!
– Christmas playlists 24/7. Christmas music always makes me feel cheerful (sometimes I start listening in September – don’t judge me!). This year I’m playing the Anthropologie Christmas Vibes playlist on loop, along with John Legend’s Christmas album.
– Spending more time with friends and family, less time working. I have a few pieces of content left to share, but then I’m clocking off for the year. For once I’m not putting any pressure on myself to continue producing content right up until the 19th or 20th. And, instead, I’ve been filling my diary up with social commitments. It’s very unlike me to prioritise fun over work, but I’ve finally got to a place where I can recognise my own limitations. And I know I have no creative juice or inspiration left in me for 2019.
– Giving myself the headspace to figure out what comes next. The main perk to taking some time off over Christmas is that I’ll be able to contemplate what I want from 2020. This year has been tricky, but I’m learning to trust the process. There’s a brilliant quote that I found on Instagram, which I’ve continued to revisit throughout the year. It says, “An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming,”
How do you plan to make this Christmas awesome? And, for anyone reading this who is having a challenging time this season, please trust me when I say things will get better. Hang in there – you’ve got this!
Photos by Victoria Metaxas