This week has been New Zealand Fashion Week in Auckland. Plenty of fashion bloggers and influencers are in the zone, making the most of this annual gathering of the beautiful and influential in Auckland.
Wearing Maggie Marilyn with luminous skin, they seem to glide between Stolen Girlfriends Club and Juliette Hogan effortlessly. I’ve skimmed across the Instagram feeds of my Auckland peers, seeing them heading to shows and speaking on panels. They look like they’re having a good time and know what’s happening. It’s a glowy, alluring visage that is transmitted via a combination of instagram stories, feed posts and street style articles. It looks lush. But this year I’ve seen the whole thing through a different lens. I’ve been experiencing JOMO - aka the Joy of Missing Out.
What is JOMO you may ask? JOMO is something we increasing experience as we hit twenty-five and up. Like a sliding scale, your JOMO will elevate with your years. JOMO is sitting in your Pyjamas on a Friday night watching Snowfall on Neon and being thrilled with yourself for not staying for one more drink. It’s waking up the next morning without a hangover and going for a walk by yourself to start the day fresh, or snuggling down and having breakfast in bed with your partner. It’s having the confidence to say ‘No thanks’ to a creative workshop you would have otherwise really wanted to do because you realised that your two best friends have their baby-shower and thirtieth respectively on that same weekend. It’s savouring a whole weekend catching up on life admin.
In my life I’ve previously really really wanted to be elsewhere, quite a lot of the time. Some times it has been more noticeable, other times less.
So why have I gone from FOMO to JOMO?
As a girl raised without much social chutzpah for about 80% of my school days, I came to seek pleasure in my achievements. Tick boxing was my way to feel good about myself when I otherwise felt down. In addition, I have a brother who had learning disabilities which meant that my parents were focused on him. My job was to make sure I had good marks and excelled. When I did, I got attention. When I did averagely, I flew under the radar. But I always felt like there was a party going on that I hadn’t been invited to, or a boy I wished I could go out with, but who barely ever spoke to me. Such is life as a teenager.
As I grew older, and started this blog, I decided that I would say ‘YES’ to everything (probably inspired by some TED talk or episode of Marie TV). Yes I would write that article. Yes I would come to your event. Yes I would meet you for a coffee. I tried to cram everything into my life because I wanted to make the most of it, and of Wellington. So I said YES to everything again and again and again.
A few years ago, I saw people in New Zealand blogging and Instagram circles at fashion week. I really really wanted to go. I mean, this was what PROPER bloggers did - right? I wasn’t probably trying hard enough if I didn’t get invited to fashion week. I didn’t know anyone that would be there, except editor of Wellington Woman Magazine Lauren Mann. But I thought I could hack it. So I decided to tell my boss that I’d be working from Auckland that week, booked my plane tickets and applied for a media pass (it costs $60+ to just get invited).
And what happened next? Well, I met Jacinda Ardern on the opening night, pre her status as a global superstar. I made approximately one friend, Kseniia from The Style Jungle. And opening night was pretty good on the Monday. Some brands invited me along and for reasons I don’t quite understand I got to sit second row at Federation who were celebrating 20 years. I had thought that I was going to blog about being at Fashion Week, the excitement and creativity I felt. I attended shows for Federation, Huffer and Hailwood. I ended up skipping the show for Kate Sylvester, which I actually regret somewhat, because Lauren Mann and her friend Matias and I were drinking bubbles at her stepfathers house and having a great time. These were my highlights.
Unfortunately, the rest my personal experience was was much more boring/frustrating side. The reason? Well, first, fashion people have no sense of time management. Every single show was at least an hour late. This makes organising ones life around an event impossible you had a normal work day to do. People working in the law or banking/financial/policy world would have a total hernia. It threw everything out. I simply couldn’t go to the Wynn Hamlyn show in the end, because it started at 10pm. I had work to go to the next day! No one was paying me to be there and standing on my own sipping a glass of bubbles and desperately eyeing the other people around me to see if I knew anyone was hard work.
Second, there was no food to be had - so coming from my office directly to the venue, sitting through a late show and then making my way back to my friend Gina’s house in Auckland traffic meant I was absolutely famished. I think I bought McDonalds one night because I was about to pass out.
Third, I didn’t really like standing in the back row for one of the few shows I went to. I felt like I had no real reason to be there, a total imposter in the face of fashion buyers and news media, who were actually getting paid because this was their full time job. It all felt quite pointless. Yes, darn you, stupid ego.
I also felt like I missed the ‘rules’: these include borrowing loads of clothes from different PR agencies so you can be snapped ‘street style’. Sometimes fashion folk change outfits up to three times a day on a fashion week. At the end, everyone hands them back - which is totally legit and fine - but something I hadn’t planned for.
Some Instagrammers had organised to take a whole week off, borrow lots of clothes and stay overnight in expensive hotels. And that’s fantastic. Go them. But for me it wasn’t realistic to. To buy flights to Auckland, organise taxi’s around the city, accomodation and food out for a week would cost thousands to ‘do it properly’ as well as taking a week of annual leave. But also, more than that, the bandwidth it would take up in my head makes me buckle under the weight even as I just contemplate it. And at the end, I didn’t really see what I’d get out of it, except ‘networking’.
The last straw came when I woke up in the middle of the night on the Wednesday at my Ginas in her spare room, frantically scared. I suddenly was terrified I’d done it all wrong. My blog was wrong. I was wrong. I wasn’t fashion enough. I was a fraud. What had I been thinking, all along? This was all a terrible, terrible idea and I probably needed to give up blogging or start all over again.
But if you had looked at my pictures you would never have known. Happy outfits of the day were going out as though I was having the best time, just like everyone else seemed to be. At the time, I wanted to deal with these feelings in private and slowly work through them. I love sharing things online but my general rule is that if I am going through something difficult, I will only talk about it when some distance has passed. Firing up in the heat of the moment is no good. And do you know what? I’m allowed to do that and not have to explain every single feeling or be ‘real’ all the time. Sometimes we need space to figure out what we’re feeling.
At this point I had been publishing 3 blogs a week consistently for 18 months with only one two week break over Christmas. I’d put myself under so much pressure to be consistent with my content, I was missing out on everyday life.
After that panic attack in the night during fashion week, something changed in me. I remember one night sitting on the couch in our old flat at Oriental Bay and had the choice between either keeping up my blog writing regime to prepare a post on Sunday night for Monday morning, or watching Titanic with Matt on the couch and eat a Magnum. Reader, I chose the Magnum.
This year I’ve posted less than other years on this blog, which is partly what motivated me to do 30 before 30. What with moving around, some stressful personal stuff and extreme exhaustion after having basically worked two full time jobs at the same time for almost 4 years, I just couldn’t keep it up. I’ve also been sick in a way I’ve never been - unable to shake the cold for weeks and weeks on end. I was run down. It sucked.
If I went now, after 2 years extra blogging, I’d be better off. I have some great gal pals in Auckland I’d be able to join up with. People like The Sleek Avenue, Sauce and All Is For All are killing it. But it just isn’t my priority right now.
My proper holiday up north showed me the power of genuinely opting out and doing nothing for a week or so. It was incredible. I was rejuvenated to a level I didn’t know I could reach - because I wasn’t aware quite how deeply I’d fallen down the rabbit hole of tiredness. It was the best thing I could have done.
Finally, as I am about to turn 30 (and after a solid 10 day break on holiday with the man I love), I have somehow dropped the spur and whirr impulse, the need to compete by being part of the seem. By spur and whirr I mean that I see things and suddenly feel the impulse to join in (spur) and then that I’ll keep going to any end to see the job done, even if I drop down exhausted by the end (that’s the whirring).
My prioritise are shifting and while I have always loved, and will continue to love fashion and blogging, I just can’t be arsed doing half the stuff I used to feel I should. Things I still enjoy include doing the odd shoot with my main gal, Ashley Church, mentoring on Project Fashion, exploring the world of ethical style and conducting interviews with people working in the fashion industry and having discussions about their business. But I don’t enjoy the pageantry of fashion week. This mainly comes from having had a go, but then realising ‘Nope - not for me.’ And that that feeling is entirely fine.
Now I am making plans for my wedding, looking for a new flat in a few months and trying to find the joy in blogging again.
JOMO comes with that sense of don’t give a f**k that you get when you get older. I’ve certainly not nailed it but boy having a break and appreciating the power of lots of cups of tea, books and time with Matt helped put into perspective what really makes me happy. Ditto my best friend having a baby.
As Matt Haig says ‘Fear of missing out is a waste. You can feel terrible at the fanciest part. And feel wonderful at home alone. It’s not where you are, it’s how you feel. We are all at this most rare and miraculous event know as planet earth. The rest is just detail.”
In other words, remember that what you see on social media is just the best bits. In between the power suits, designer bags and blow waves there are blisters, missed cabs, food spilt on tops and very hungry bloggers. This doesn’t mean goodbye forever to Fashion Week. I learnt a lot from my one experience and am wise enough to know one experience does not a rule make. Lots of people in fashion are simply just lovley, and are better equipped for the highs and lows of navigating fashion week than I am. It takes a certain kind of person to ‘do’ Fashion Week and to thrive. For everyone at Fashion Week, I wish you the best time. As for me, I’ll be enjoying New Zealand’s latest fashion through the comfort of my iPhone while typing up boring documents at work, eating sushi, and feeling perfectly content.