I was moaning to the husband recently about my lack of progress in my professional life when he stopped me. He reminded me that I started out in October 2015 with 5,000 followers on Instagram. By January 2016, my numbers were over 10K. Exactly a year later, it stands at 44,900. I was so focussed on nitpicking my faults and lack-ofs that I forgot to see the big picture.
The growth happened organically, albeit with a few strategies put in place by me to improve my entire feed. I learned as much as I could about Instagram. Literally whatever I can get my hands on including putting myself out there to network. The latter wasn't as easy as I'm not exactly the most sociable person. It also grew by leaps and bounds, thanks to a lovely lady called Siobhan who founded the famous Instagram account called Pretty City London and featured my work on many occasions (Thank you, Siobhan. I'm eternally grateful!). It was mind-boggling to think a couple of my images drew more than 10,000 likes each.
I started collaborating with Hero to run Smartphone Photography workshops. A huge thank you to all who'd participated. More feedback were relayed to me so we decided that the final workshop was to cater specifically to businesses who wanted to incorporate Instagram efficiently as a marketing tool. I was blown away by the enthusiasm of all the participants who were so keen to learn that they happily stayed back for an additional 45 minutes.
Some clients wanted one on one customized sessions so one thing led to another, I started a small consulting business. Again, it wasn't something I'd set out to do beginning of the year. I took on more photography projects working with some of the most inspirational women (check out Online Stylist and Lois Avery) and brands that I personally like.
I'm still a long way from achieving my goals but I've learned that it's the journey, not the destination that matters. I remember hearing a talk by Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-a-Porter who drew a graph of her path to success. It was nothing like what everyone has imagined, a slow but definite upward trend. It was a scribbled mess with no definitive pattern. Yet, if you looked from afar at its 10 year performance, you'll see how many milestones it has reached.
Harsh words and dealing with difficult people
In the past year and a half, I've heard my share of harsh words, from raging obscenities, torrents of abuse to outright disbelief that I'd amount to anything. It's even more difficult when they're from a family member and close friends because you take their rants to heart.
What upset me was their sense of entitlement. Their "I'm more important than you"mentality. They take no responsibility over their verbal diarrhea. The fact that others have had to deal with the emotional scars from their many tactless tirades. That it's ok to throw tantrums when things don't go their way and screw anyone who happened to stand in their path. Because they're ALWAYS the victim. The words thank you and I'm sorry aren't even part of their vocabulary.
The very act of tearing another person down is often a sign of deeply rooted insecurities hidden behind a veil of arrogance.
The thing is I hate confrontations and I deal with them very badly. My first reaction tends to be flight rather than fight. I go mute and then tears start to form. And then I hide in my she-cave for weeks to recover. It's taken me this long to finally grow a thicker skin, to stand my ground calmly and apply a little wisdom. I had to make the tough decision to not let the toxic relationship continue. That's a difficult thing to do if you're a people pleaser, which basically means you're everyone's dogsbody.
It's normal to disagree. After all, we're all made differently. There are ways to compromise and work together without belittling the other.
"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly." - Proverbs 14:15.
I've been blighted with a number of severe IBS episodes (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). It's been a year of adjusting and readjusting my diet, sometimes on a daily basis. I've re-introduced some food types back into my diet carefully with some success. However, a few slices of dried mango brought me to my knees followed by a 12 hour non-stop of pain, vomiting and being close to passing out cold on the floor. It took another week of bland congee diet (and barely anything else) before the low level pain was just about tolerable.
I am thankful that it's IBS, not cancer. I've had a friend who succumbed to cancer unexpectedly and another who has just been diagnosed a couple of weeks ago. My health issues, in comparison, are minuscule and controllable with careful dieting. In fact, thanks to IBS, I'm even more careful with what I put into my mouth and my diet has improved tremendously as a result.
What did your 2016 journey look like?
**All photos taken with iPhone 6S Plus