Four years (and a month) ago, I sat at my desk in my grey cubicle in my grey carpeted office and stared at an Excel spreadsheet while my eyes began to cross and water. I spun around in my lopsided pleather chair- certainly an original piece of furniture from the early nineties- and nearly toppled over a pile of Hanky Panky holiday samples to see my friend, Stephanie, grinning at the entry of my own personal hell. ”Ready for lunch?” she said. I nodded too quickly.
Spending half an hour across the street at Devon and Blakely with her over a cup of lentil soup was basically the highlight of my days. While I had a job that most girls would consider a “dream job,” I found myself struggling to excel. I was disinterested for the most part aside from the actual selection of product and styling of pieces. The entering of orders, tracking of shipments, and balancing of budgets was the majority of my role and I just was not what one might consider a “star employee.” I constantly felt guilty for not feeling giddy about my job and tried my best to be a superstar, but I was just not meant to sit behind a desk and crunch numbers. One day, one of my colleagues actually voiced that. She turned to me in a buyers’ meeting and said, “Kirsten, you’re too funny and pretty to be here. You should go enroll in acting classes or something.” An actress I’m not, but I was made aware at that specific moment that everyone knew I didn’t fit in the corporate world. I hung in for another year and a half before that whole recession thing happened and retail took a beating forcing many offices to eliminate entire departments and completely restructure their corporate offices. Stephanie and I were unluckily, or luckily depending on how you look at it, part of the trimming of the fat. We weren’t alone though. Ever see a bar full of buyers getting hammered before noon? Dive bars have never made so many martinis.
Fortunately, before all of the chaos, I had been on a double date with a girl who informed me she was a “blogger.” She was a very nice girl, but not particularly brilliant or earth shatteringly interesting. I thought to myself, “I can do that.” The next day, I signed up for a Tumblr account and bought the domain WhyDidYouWearThat.com. The idea stemmed from seeing so many girls wearing so many horrific outfits, namely leggings as pants. When I started blogging I hadn’t the slightest clue as to what I was doing. Fortunately, I had a college pal who was instrumental in setting me off in the right direction. Should I ever hit it big time, he’ll be the first person I write a check to. I wrote my posts anonymously. Honestly, I didn’t think anyone was even reading them. I was writing as a creative outlet to balance out all of the arithmetic of my daily tasks. I had totally forgotten how much I enjoyed writing. Instead of having conversations with myself in my head, I started writing all of my thoughts down.
Then something funny happened. I started seeing my hits go up and up and up on Google Analytics. People were reading this? My Facebook page started growing. Strangely enough, people were paying attention. Almost a year or so in, I wrote a post that was quite a bit more personal than my typical WTF?! posts. I even included photos of myself, which I hadn’t really done before. My hits spiked and I realized that I had cracked the code. I realized that I was able to connect with readers on a more personal level. I could communicate with them without polarizing them. We could commiserate. We could laugh. We could cry. We could think. We could be girlfriends… even though I don’t even know most of them. I wanted women to know that there is someone out there dealing with the same problems as they are: whether it be finding the perfect hair product, or clever way to hide bra straps, or heal a broken heart. I wasn’t here to make them feel bad about all the clothes and stuff I have that they didn’t (which I don’t have). I wanted to be a safe place, a fun place, a release from a shitty day at the office with an Excel sheet and bitchy clients.
And while I was kind of forced into figuring out what I loved doing by being fired, it wasn’t easy. I tried to get jobs after being laid off. I got a few, but they weren’t particularly fulfilling or long lasting. The jobs I would have wanted, I couldn’t get. I was either overqualified or didn’t have the “right” experience to get them. So, I realized that I just needed to put my head down and focus on creating something for myself. Sure, I have a long way to go and I’m still learning even now. I had no idea four years ago when I wrote my first post that this was what I was meant to be doing. It was just a silly whim that grew legs and started sprinting. There have been times I’ve wanted to quit, but I believe everyone feels that way at one point or another. I get frustrated that I’ve worked hard for years and still have not made it to where I want to be and some bloggers have just walked onto the scene and been scooped up by agents and brands and critics. When I see that happen, I get discouraged. I start to think maybe I’m no good. However, when I really think about throwing in the towel, I think about my readers. I think about all the kind comments and emails and the friendships that have come from doing what I do. I think about how much I really do enjoy writing and here I am.
So as to not make this all about “me” (you’ve got to be a little narcissistic to be a blogger afterall), I want you to know that sometimes when you are being rejected left and right and nothing seems to be working, it isn’t because you aren’t good enough. Maybe it’s just life’s gentle nudge telling you that there is something else for you. Maybe you just need to dig deep and figure out what you love and what your true calling is. Don’t feel bad because you aren’t fitting into that round hole if you’re a square peg. Know that you are just being pointed in the right direction and always know that there is a safe place for you here.
Thank you for four amazing years.