I’ve found a note on my phone of which I recall writing on one of the first days of January, 2017. I say ‘one of’ as it was likely not the very first: I’m notorious for both forgetting and avoiding these type things (growth and the universal expectation that we set yearly deadlines on it). I struggle to discern a cheese scone from a cheese-and-bacon pinwheel at the best of times (and such has pertinence being vegetarian). Trying to discern my larger goals from the cloudy sky in which they reside presents itself as an almost equally stressful task.
Last year, when it came to my New Years resolutions, I kept it simple. I can’t say with certainty as to whether this was for practicality’s sake, or a result of pure laziness – but I’m assuring myself it was the former. I wrote four goals, each just two words long: a verb followed by a descriptor. I hoped that with these goals in mind, I would both absent-mindedly and consciously make the smaller decisions that would see their achievement. I believed that having these overarching goals would allow for freedom in my journey, and yet, ensure my own reign over its primary direction. This both has and hasn’t worked.
For my first goal, “sleep more”, I probably ought to have compiled a step-by-step. Because to sleep more never has been simple to me. For someone who thrives off an early rise; who likes to be productive or even, ponder the shape of the earth until 2am, the task is a complex one. I needed direction. I needed to know when it was right to keep going and when it was right to stop. When it was right to bask in my love for the morning and when it was right to sacrifice this kind of beauty, for more of that stuff they call beauty sleep.
If anything, I had more naps and in doing so, I became more open to my having of naps. It wasn’t that I taught myself to be okay with not being productive, or even that I began to label day-sleeping as a siesta (who wouldn’t want their day to involve one of these?). I simply saw sleeping as a productive pastime as well. After all, it is absolutely one. We’ve all tried to tackle an arduous task on little sleep. Quite often, it’s a waste of time. When I took a nap, at least momentarily, I loved myself for giving into how I felt; for doing what I knew was best to satisfy that feeling (and others) in the long-term.
When you look at the situation properly, my taking of naps was far from progressive towards my goal – counterproductive, even. They offered an instant solution to an ever-persisting problem. After all, I only needed a nap after having insufficient sleep in the first place. If I’d taken the time to write steps for this resolution, perhaps I’d have distinguished the true intention of my goal – to get longer, more whole sleep at once – from the reality that has become of it: making up for sleep at random times, if at all. Undoubtedly, this resolution will go on the list for next year.
The next goal I’ve listed is to “write more”. Indeed, I write everyday with my job – but I know myself and I know this goal implies something quite different. Here I demand that I grow my skill for articulation. That I better the compilation of my thoughts and their expression. That I see myself writing with more ease and more wit. In this sense, this goal is simple: it means to write more on here. It means to blog.
Now, I could quite easily look back at all the posts I’ve published this year and find out if I’ve written more or less than the last. But frankly, I needn’t do this – in fact, it’d be a waste of time. I know I haven’t succeeded here, just like I would know if I’d written enough. Sure, I go through periods where I write a lot; where I really prioritise this space. There are many, however – often long and drought-like – where I leave it to rest. I would often suppose that it is life whom does, more than I. But perhaps if I’d made more of plan, life wouldn’t have had the opportunity to silence this space quite as much as it has.
My final two goals are similar in nature. I’ve written “more paid ops” and “more international ops”. Allow me to clarify myself. In the simplest of terms, I wanted to be paid for what I love to do.. more. I don’t mean to say I wanted more money; I simply wanted the money I was earning – or it’s majority – to be coming from my passion work. The intention, then, was to make or to locate a career on a premise of passion, as opposed to one of pastime or pay-the-bills. As for “more international ops”, this simply asked that I did so on an international scale; that I connected with globally-based people, in order to collaborate with globally-based brands.
I’d be inclined to say a lot of this happened naturally. But again, I’d also be naive to undermine the importance of steps and of deadlines to my progression here. So what had been the difference? Why had I been more successful with these goals than I had been with goal #1?
This time round, I was well aware of the steps I had to take. They appeared obvious to me. More paid opportunities meant relocating 20-30 odd hours of the week to the industry I wished to be in. Being in the industry I wished to be in, meant setting a deadline on when I’d leave the industry I didn’t. And more international opportunities meant contacting and generating more global networks. Simple as that. If I didn’t send an email, align a meeting or pick up the phone, I didn’t achieve the goal.
So naturally, I did all these things.
Quite naturally as well, I realised the importance of steps. Indeed, there is an extent that gut will drive you. Sometimes, however, we have to premeditate our gut. That is, we actually have to teach ourselves to want something or to want to do something, so that soon, it becomes instinctual to do it.
This has been much the way of my skincare routine lately.
Over a month ago, I was contacted by Plantae Skincare – otherwise known as the purest skincare brand currently in New Zealand. They were interested to know if I had any particular skin concerns for which their products could provide aid.
Now I’ll be honest, I’ve been very lucky. I’ve never struggled overly much with acne, and that which I have faced, has appeared in the form of a one-off, nevertheless distracting pimple on my forehead. This, however, depicts the most of it. I’m not sure what it is that has prevented any major skin concerns. Perhaps, the mixture of Scottish, English and New Zealand genes.
What I did know at the time, however, was the extent other people swore by their skincare routines. And as social pressure would have it, I felt guilty for doing and having done nothing in the department myself. Another part of me was convinced that things wouldn’t remain this good forever. What’s more, if good was this easy, how difficult could great be? I was in.
A couple of days later, I received a box full of Plantae products specifically catered to my skin type, and my far from extreme, more everyday issues (dryness, dehydration, etc). I received the Ivy Cleansing Gel, the Bergamot Orange Cleansing Milk, the Vanilla Bean Day Cream, the Rose Otto Essential Oil and the Sea Buckthorn Berry Night Cream.
When it first arrived, I experienced the natural amount of excitement one does from receiving a parcel. And on that buzz, I began my skincare routine the same evening. Things were changing, folks. And yet, for I wasn’t yet prepared to commit to 5-or-so steps, they also very much weren’t.
Here’s the thing. I’ve avoided a skincare routine in the past, yes, because my skin has acted somewhat sufficiently at being skin – but also because sufficient or not, I’m bloody lazy when it comes to this kind of thing. Beauty in general, actually. For someone so interested in fashion, you’d think I’d find equal intrigue in make-up, but the truth is, 72% of the time it bores me to death. 84% of the time I watch make-up tutorials because I find the YouTuber themselves interesting to listen to. And a whopping 98.7% of the time, I haven’t gone on to buy the product(s) they’re promoting (I wonder if I’m the only one?). If we were talking clothes, however, I’m certain these statistics would display themselves quite differently. If you’re putting stuff on your face, however, I’m probably uninterested.
Let me put it into perspective. My make-up routine as of the minute – that is, my I’m-putting-in-effort-because-I-have-a-meeting-or-a-shoot-today look – is contrived of just three things: foundation, mascara and lipstick. The perks of being uninterested is that my make-up routine takes no damn time at all. And at the end of it, I’m still able to tick the box that deems I’ve made a socially acceptable effort towards my appearance today. Clear skin or not, this pressure still exists.
So there we have it. I tend to only wear make-up when it’s an unspoken requirement, or in the case that it credits a bold outfit (after all, a pale, washed out face certainly doesn’t).
There has been just one stage in which I have experimented in the beauty realm, and that occurred primarily out of the need for a hangover disguise (it turns out that a pale, washed out face doesn’t mesh so well with the hospitality industry either). When I asked AJ if he remembered this, he responded that I looked “oompa loompa pretty”, this of which he followed up with “no, you looked cute.. in like, a Willy-Wonka-chocolate-factory type way.”
What boys ought to learn is that adding a giggle at the end of a sentence doesn’t somehow erase the words they’ve just spoken. Too, that if my face is ever orange, I’m probably aware and you needn’t comment. Very likely, I ran out of time to fix it and figured it was better to be orange than late to work, blatantly hungover and under-slept.
I shouldn’t have asked.
To bring a long story back to its point, my extreme adversity to all things beauty and effort meant the odds that I would commit to even five steps of a beauty routine, were hardly in Plantae’s, or as I would learn, my own favour.
One morning, after a few days of not using the products, I woke up and felt an oddly urgent need to awaken my face. I enacted several steps of what has for days and evenings since, comprised my new routine. What was it that convinced me? The time? The date? A sudden breakout? It was none of the above.
The truth was, as much as the steps were important, I needed the why too. I needed the why to be big enough for me to complete the how. I needed a resolution to Plantae‘s set of steps, and I needed it to make sense for me.
To simply better my skin was not enough of an incentive for me. I wasn’t dissatisfied enough with my skin as it was. That I could awaken myself in a couple of minutes, particularly being a morning person, would be the why to work for me.
Have you ever felt groggy, and for lack of a word as satisfyingly blunt, like absolute shit when you’ve woken up, and then had it translate to your mood? Since using Plantae, I’ve felt genuinely happier, having managed to avoid almost angsty starts to the day. It’s gotten to the point where today, my flatmate was in the bathroom just as I was heading off for a morning workout. I honestly felt disappointed and notably less refreshed, given I couldn’t complete my morning skincare routine.
But wait, there’s more (duh)! I mentioned that I avoid wearing make-up at most-to-all costs. I say most because there have been occasions where I have felt a little too naked, a little too dead or colourless to commit to going au naturale. I’ve found that after using Plantae, however, I look better without make-up. I’m going bare-faced and not solely because I can’t be bothered with anything else – but because I can! Because the more I use Plantae and the less I rely on make-up to bring my skin vitality, the less I actually need it – even on those one-off, I-feel-like-I-should occasions.
Because I know I’ll get caught up in Christmas and in family and in glasses of Champagne, I’m making a plan now for my 2018 resolutions: it is to both know my whys and to articulate my hows. To clarify the resolutions that count and to count the steps that clarify them. This way, I won’t miss out on opportunities for change. No matter which way they come at me: with steps or with whys, I’ll know how to fill the gaps. I’ll recognise the importance of doing so.
Whether it be with Plantae, with self love or with your career, go further than your gut permits in 2018. Trust your whys, but don’t use them to disregard the hows.
The bigger picture exists not in spite of, but because of the small. Remember this in all you do.
Have a wonderful Christmas, New Year and 2018 (in case you don’t hear from me until then)!
Photos: Deanna Walker