As I write this post I am currently on a flight to Cairo and I am typing it into a Notes app on my phone. I'm pretty sure the creepy guy sat next to me is reading over my shoulder as I type as well.
Scrolling through twitter this morning I saw a tweet that jumped out at me. And it stuck in my head and through the day all these thoughts have been popping up at me. Then, I was having another (whatsapp) conversation with a friend this morning and she said to me 'Just enjoy life Stacey, don't worry about the little things. Do all the things you've dreamed of now not tomorrow...'
And that made me think even more during the almost 4 hour flight (I'm a big thinker) 'what is the dream'?
Now I'll be honest, I like my blog posts to normally end with a conclusion-a decision made on whether I like a product or don't or, if it's a personal post, a summary of what I am going to focus on/change/start. This post isn't going to have a conclusion because I still haven't decided.
I've spent the first 3 months of 2017 telling people 'the dream' this year is to go to Paris in Spring and buy a Chanel handbag. I felt like that was the way to best 'celebrate' what I achieved last year professionally as it was my best year ever, but also to 'celebrate' surviving the challenges last year threw at me-the breakdown and break up of a 13 year relationship, a secondary diagnosis, further surgery and the menopause which really hit me like a charging rhino. I felt like I deserved it. I still feel like I deserve it. And I wanted to do Paris in the spring because that really sounded like the dream-I want to go with Dani my best friend and enjoy dappled sunshine, cafes, wandering the streets in pastel colours (me not Danielle, she'd rather die than wear pastel) and practising my French on any poor French person who will listen. I wanted to stroll along the Champs-Élysées and take so many Instagrammable photos I'd struggle to choose what to post. I wanted to visit Chanel (and maybe Dior) and buy 'the' bag and then skip out, black and white Chanel bag in hand, full of the joys of Parisian joie de vivre. And in all honesty, the trip to Paris still feels like the dream. I would love it. I haven't had a holiday since July 2015. I have visited the UK but any expat will tell you, going home isn't a 'holiday' because you get pulled (and want to be) in a million directions trying to catch up with everyone who is important to you.
But Chanel? And here's where the story might get a bit controversial and this is NOT a dig at anyone at all, this is my own personal thoughts. And something I am still completely undecided on. I own two Chanel WOCs-one is brand new, still in the box and has been for 2 years. The other I have used maybe 3 times. The thing I use from Chanel the most is my Chanel card holder and that was a gift from Danielle. I'm actually thinking of selling them both WOC's to put the money towards something I would use more. But why am I thinking of buying more Chanel if I don't use what I have?
To me Chanel is the most luxe I would buy without stepping into Hermes (and personally, I'm not going there). A Chanel bag was always, in my mind the symbol of success. But I now feel like it's losing its exclusivity a bit. It seems to be becoming more and more mainstream (I feel) with seemingly every twenty something YouTuber I watch owning multiple Chanel bags. Now again, please please please do not think I am making a statement of hate, jealousy or being snide here-I watch Lydia, Victoria, Claire and Tamara (to name a few of the UK based bloggers) and I absolutely enjoy their content. They all have completely different backgrounds and I am a big believer of you don't know what goes on behind closed doors. You can see how hard some of these girls work because they're constantly on the go, churning out content. Some of them have agents, brokering deals behind the scenes and a lot of what you see is, I suspect bought with discounts, gift vouchers or is simply gifted directly. Some of it is just bought with cold hard cash they have earned. I'm not touching on disclosure here, that's a whole different topic, I'm simply saying that it's important to keep perspective that this is their job, we see a tiny fraction of their lives, we don't know their financial backgrounds or situation and therefore we have no right to judge and that not everyone can 'become' a YouTuber who spends their days being dressed in Dior, Chanel, Gucci etc. These girls have wardrobes that are completely unattainable for me-and I'm a 36 year old investment banker. It's important to retain perspective. These girls make it look effortless and easy-who wouldn't want paid trips to the Maldives, to attend exclusive events held by luxury brands and to collaborate with a promote these luxury brands? But it's not 'normal' and sometimes I worry that viewers may start to feel inadequate if they can't afford the lifestyle some of the big youtubers enjoy. Sometimes, no matter how hard you work, you won't have the opportunities you see Youtubers getting. Maybe I overthink these things-maybe young girls are savvy enough to separate youtube life and what they see in a 20 minute 'luxury' vlog from the reality of most peoples daily lives. But I hold my hands up and say I do watch their content avidly and I do lust after certain bags-and that's why big brands are working with these girls. But honestly, the vast rate at which some of these girls are accumulating luxury, designer handbags is starting to feel uncomfortable. My YouTube subscription feed is filled with unboxings and luxury hauls and 'come shopping with me at X luxury store'
But back to me. I am questioning if I am falling for this very consumerist, materialistic 'I must have designer to show I too can have my Instaglam life'. Is it the dream or is it just what I am being told is the dream? I genuinely haven't decided.
Then there is the minefield of which Chanel bag I would buy if I did go. And here's where I have actually made a decision. I'm going to stop listening to everyone elses opinions and chose what I like. I've had conversations in real life and online where people have said 'oh I don't like that style of bag' or that colour/material/size and I've made a mental note that I mustn't then buy that bag-that's just insane! If I'm going to drop a toe curling amount of money on a square piece of leather I am going to god damn love it. Other people's opinions don't and can't matter in a purchase like this. I mean, yes I will do my research into the bag-see if people who actually own it dislike anything in particular about it so I can make a sound decision that it's the right bag for me.
Longer term and being more 'deep' for a moment, I know that I need in invest some time working out what is 'the dream' ultimately. I've lived in Dubai almost 12 years now. I honestly thought I would be married and have children. The dream would be based around my hopes for my children and giving them the best life possible, making memories and not necessarily buying things. Taking photos of everything and making old fashioned scrap books of our adventures. But that's not the way life panned out.
At the start of each year I write down 3 mantras I want to work towards that year-they might be a single word or they might be a phrase. One of the three things I wrote down at the start of the year this year was 'make more memories not buy more things'. And that's why Julie's tweet stood out to me so much today because it reminded me of one of my mantras for the years.
I honestly don't know whether I will take the trip to Paris and buy the Chanel. If I don't do it by May, I feel like I am unlikely to do it at all. Part of me thinks 'just do it, you deserve it, go and make memories/treat yourself', the other part of me thinks I should be more sensible and save that money for some yet undetermined event in the future. It's that feeling of 'screw it, you only get one life' versus 'am I doing this for the right reasons'?
I also fully accept that it could be pouring with rain in Paris in May and that the SA in Chanel could potentially be rude as hell and I wouldn't enjoy the shopping experience! The other thing I lack at the moment is the time to plan the trip-to research properly where I want to stay, to shop and to eat-because eating is important in Paris and I want all the excellent French food.
As an aside, I did spend the whole weekend thinking I was going to stop blogging. Temporarily at first until my exams are done in July but maybe if I didn't miss it, just stop altogether. I really do love Instagram and feel sometimes you can make a point more easily there than in a blog post. It's 'lazier' and it's easier. And it takes so much time to do good blog content and although I believe I have a valid voice I'm just not 'big' enough even after 4.5 years to get the views I think that effort actually warrants. But a strange thing happened. I got a flurry of comments on my last two posts over the weekend. And it made me feel kind of 'valid' again.
If I have learned one thing about all these jumbled up thoughts today it's that I am going to focus on doing things that make me happy. I don't need to please or impress anyone else. I also don't need to justify myself to anyone. I won't be ashamed of liking a bag because I've seen it on social media. I'm not in competition with anyone. I'm going to do me. And I don't need a designer handbag for the Instagram post. I think I am quite a 'real' person, I've blogged about difficult times and on my instastories I try to be positive but also real.
And that's why I need to be sure about this purchase-that it really is going to reflect surviving 2016 to me and not just be a way to boost my own self esteem through an Instagram post. Every blogger has done it, everyone wants to create content others like. I openly admit, I sometimes need validation that people like me. Even though I am a grown up, I have massive insecurities about pretty much everything about me. It's my birthday this weekend and I am hugely excited but at the back of my mind I am already thinking of the photos I want to take and have you seen my friends??? They're all god damn goddesses. I'm going to look horrendous next to them.
But Instagram isn't really validation and it shouldn't really be a measure of validation-because people are liking the content they see on the screen not necessarily the person behind it. Those likes on an Instagram post are a very temporary high.
I would love love love it if you shared your thoughts on any of the above-I know it was a bit all over the place and covers a few different streams of thought but if you have any thoughts on my thoughts I'd love to hear them!