May 23, 2016

Some post-vacation thoughts

I always come back from the UK jet lagged (woke up at 4 a.m. today) and hooked on cooked breakfasts (made myself eggs, beans, and wholegrain toast this morning).

Earlier this May I realized I hadn't been on a plane in nearly six months—which, if you know me in real life, was a pretty clear sign that I had not been quite myself for a while. I think in between starting a new job in January that's turned out to be a completely different office culture from any place I've ever worked, getting my apartment in better working order (new furniture, built-in-shelving, an overall rethink and refresh), and other miscellaneous feelings of directionless-ness (or new direction, not sure yet), I really needed to get away. So about ten days ago I booked a last-minute trip to my hometown (where I was born, lived until I was 5-years-old and later went to grad school) Oxford to clear my head, reconnect with myself, and to take a few days of quiet time in order to figure out what I want to do with my time, my life, my career.

For more than a decade now, I've been so lucky to have a career that's been my life—in the best possible way. Working in media has been everything I've ever wanted—creatively fulfilling; working with super-fast-thinking, charismatic, driven, brilliant people; building brands from scratch, growing legacy brands; moving from print to digital and really embracing all the fun that came with working in both newspapers and online.

But it's 2016. And the more and more I talk to my friends who work in the industry (almost all my friends work in media, and if not media, then fashion), the more I realize that working in the industry is a totally different ballgame now. And while I love the internet content-for-$$$$ game—anyone who's worked with me knows "scale" is one of my favorite words—lately I've been thinking that somewhere along the lines, we've lost our way. Or I've lost my way.

Before I got my first full-time job (at the New York Post back in the day), I think I did something like 10 internships. I worked at a liver cell research lab (and even had a byline on a published paper), spent a semester interning at Davis Polk & Wardwell, a huge law firm in New York, worked at the Dartmouth Admissions Office, interned at Marilyn (a model agency), and did a whole bunch of fashion journalism internships (Time magazine UK, British Vogue, WGSN).

One of the biggest "practical" reasons I decided to pursue a career in fashion journalism was because I realized I didn't like the confusing split lifestyle of working in an office job for half your day, then spending the other half of your time living a completely different life with completely separate friends who have completely different interests. I liked how organic working in the fashion industry felt: these are your coworkers and your friends, you work together and you share ideas, then you go for drinks and dinner after hours, then maybe to a fashion party where you see all your other friends from work. You all know each other, you don't have to explain anything to anybody, you're all on the same page. It's a way of living that still makes perfect sense to me.

For years I've had the great privilege of finding creative and social fulfillment in my jobs—which, in turn, have always turned into all-encompassing 24/7 mind-always-on pursuits. And I loved it. But the new reality of working in corporate digital media isn't what it was even three years ago. Or, at least, mine isn't. And instead of fighting my reality, I need to do the grown-up thing and finally split my life in two: work/play. I think maybe my mid-year resolution this year is going to be to actively channel this current reserve of pent-up creative energy into doing more stuff for myself: writing on my own platforms, playing around with video on a more consistent basis (vlogging?) and being overall more thoughtful and conscientious with how I spend my free time.

These are kind of undercooked thought starters just for myself right now. More tk.