I started this blog on the premise of changing my mindset on a city I’d lived in almost all my life. Wellington is a city where everyone knows each other. So after 3 years of blogging about the city, what’s changed - between it and me?
Over my time growing here in Wellington, the city has morphed and changed several times. Right now, I feel like the city is in a sort of periodic lull, where after the fizz of the tech start-up scene going off between 2015 - 2017, it has slowed a little. Fewer new things opening, fewer events. Perhaps it’s me, but it seems like the classic Wellington buzziness, from events like TEDxWellington and the initial glory of Xero taking over the world has paled. We need to think different and evolve. For example, just throwing an idea out there: maybe Wellington does NOT need another new craft beer bar right now? Just wondering… The bones of the Capital are still here, but we need people, locals, to build upon it, and aim for the stars.
That said, Wellington has pockets of innovation that persist, like weeds growing through the cracks on hot concrete. For example, last night while walking to dinner, Matt and I spied a new restaurant from the owners of Rogue and Vagabond in Marion Street. Place like Fifi’s are keeping the cafe scene interesting and colourful. Small and nimble fashion brands continue to thrive, like Wilson Trollope. Businesses like Aro Digital have popped up, creating interesting content and mindful marketing. A new conference centre is to be built.
People and small businesses are the thing that make Wellington different and special. And it shows when it comes to commerce. Wellington doesn’t mesh when the big international conglomerates come to town. We’re not built to submit. Remember when Starbucks tried to make a go of it here in the 2000’s? Almost everyone but one of their stores closed, because of our kick-ass coffee scene.
But we can’t rest on our laurels. It is so vital to continue to have that challenger spirit and willingness to give things a go. We need to evolve.
Let’s go back to the big two pros and cons of Wellington: The benefit to living here is that you can drink it all in, walk everywhere on foot and know your bearings, flanked by stunning nature. The downside is that when you’re in a slump, Wellington can feel a bit boring.
At the end of last year, when I came back from my holiday, Wellington just felt too small. I was struggling with its size having been in mighty London and really wanted to run away again, rather than to change my mindset. From what I understand, that’s a pretty common post-holiday-blues-universal-experience. I get it. But still, I’ve never been that down in the dumps…since a very long time ago. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I couldn’t help but think ‘What’s the point?’ of everything.
Now, since the new year, my mind has refocused. I’ve set new goals. I’m excited to save money and manage my spending this year; I’m looking forward to getting healthy; and more travel is on the horizon. Goals are so important in order to stay fresh and focused. Without them, life can be entirely demotivating and the temptation to fall into a bottle of wine grows stronger.
So how does that effect where this blog is going in 2019?
If you’ve been following on for a while, you may have seen that this blog and my Instagram, Facebook and other social media have evolved over time, just like Wellington. At first, it was very focused on reviewing theatre, events around the city and lists about what to do. Slowly, over time, I opened myself up. I wanted to share more on here about my experience of living life through my twenties, and my journey. I moved to writing about my experience of dating in Wellington, the struggles I was facing in my twenties and what life taught me. Along the way, I picked up some much needed sponsored content to pay for the Uber’s, coffees and website design this project entailed (blogging is actually an expensive hobby in 2019). Now, it isn’t because I thought the world really would miss out if I didn’t share my thoughts online. It was because I HAD to write to stay sane, working in a government department. And therefore, in order to keep writing and posting, my underlying urge has been to try and write what I want to. As a blogger, if you don’t like writing what you are producing, and don’t enjoy the process, it can be very hard to keep up a frequent schedule over a long time. If I wanted to keep going, I had to like what I did. And I knew I wanted to be here to stay.
I always named this blog ‘The Residents’ because I knew in my heart of hearts I wanted to leave Wellington some day, and go and see the rest of the world and experience living overseas. Naming the blog something neutral meant I could always take it with me. I have always loved and continue to love meeting and interviewing people, both from Wellington and increasingly in other places too (but always with a connection to home).
I could do things differently though if I wanted to be better known or play it safe. When it comes to run-of-the-mill blog posts, data confirms that it’s great to write in a BuzzFeed style about highly googled topics like Wellington and Coffee: yes, if I wrote posts like that every day, I would have a heck of a lot more traffic to my blog. If I stuck with just sharing nature and scenery of Wellington on Instagram, I certainly would have many, many more followers. People get it. It’s simple. But I’m not here to be the most popular.
So why don’t I write what I know will work 100% of the time and get viral organic reach on Facebook (a feat which is harder and harder these days). Honestly? It doesn’t make me that excited or happy to write that kind of blog post these days (well, occasionally I still do if inspiration strikes). I NEED to write to feel excited, happy and like I’ve shared something of value with you on a level deeper than coffee to get a kick from being here. I like being honest. This website was always supposed to be the Wellington human with all her biases, telling the story. And while of course it is valuable to know where you should go and get dinner, the posts I most love writing are the ones where you guys email or DM me and go “DUDE - I really felt that”.
Like you, I put expectations on myself to please other people. And over time, I’ve had to let those go and learn how to just be myself. It’s the only model which is truly sustainable, in my opinion, long term.
Last August, I changed my Instagram handle from @theresidents.nz to @lucyrevill_. I did this for a few reasons, partially to do with the advice of someone in the industry in London who simply said it was confusing to her why I was called ‘The Residents’ on Instagram (“It sounds a bit like a rental property company”). But also, my instincts knew that it was the right time to change. Almost since the start of my Instagram account, my profile mainly featured photos of the city but also personal photos of myself. I no longer wanted to feel pulled between being “The Residents” (an always tourist friendly hub where I shouldn’t talk about makeup or my feelings for risk of alienating some of my readers) and also myself.
Travelling and taking time off blogging showed me that not only is there a whole other world out there, but there is also a ‘me’ outside of my blogging, a more pure and unselfconscious ‘me’. It is difficult to describe, but when you’ve poured hundreds of thousands of hours of your life into being a ‘brand’ it can be tiring. Simply put I didn’t want to be ‘The Wellington Girl’ 24/7 anymore. I didn’t want to feel guilt if I posted a photo of a friend instead of a photo of Lyall Bay at sunset or be criticised by a middle aged man who likes mountain biking and is a real journalist for doing a fashion shoot in Newtown. I didn’t want to compete directly with other pro-Wellington sites anymore. I just wanted to be me and do things I found fun and share those. I don’t regret the decision at all.
So I might as well ‘fess up and say from March this year we’re moving to Greytown and in with Matts parents to save money. We’re doing this for a few reasons but mainly we just want to get ahead in life, and to be frank I can’t bare the thought of fighting for a half decent priced property to rent in the city. Yes, the commute will be something else. But I just felt this CLICK when we made that decision. I knew it was the right choice.
Life growing up is pretty tough; unlike in our grandparents day, where they were supposed to be shacked up by 25 with two kids and a mortgage, our long years of study and slow wage increases mean few of us sort our sh*t out until our thirties are waving hello from the other side. I’ve decided I’m cool with that. I never thought I would still be living in Wellington at 29. I never thought social media and the internet would create such vast changes.
One thing I do know though; I still love the feeling of the cold water at Oriental Parade crashing around my head as I run in after a hot walk home from work (approx 10 minute commute) . I love the majesty of sitting in the Embassy theatre, and being swallowed up by Aquaman. I love the sight of the houses embedded into the grassy hills above the harbour. I love driving on the motorway back into the city at sunrise.
No matter where I got in the world, or where I end up, I’ll always be from here, not because I decided to write about Wellington, but simply by virtue of the fact that I grew up here, and was shaped by those hills. I drove every morning down the Rigi to school with my Dad, hoping he would take the wrong turn off because he was distracted and thinking about work. I studied at Victoria University, where, if I close my eyes, I can still smell the smell of the Kelburn campus, soapy and musky. It’s where I became a person, and was made. I may not share a great deal with Katherine Mansfield, besides the fact I like to write, but she’s always been a bit of a spectre for me. She grew up close to my old school, I studied her in English and I have a quote of hers printed on a box where I keep my jewellery. In some ways, it is my informal mantra for my life and blog up until now: “I can’t say how thankful I am to know Wellington as I do and to have it to range about it.” I can’t sum it up better than that!