Where to even begin? If I could describe this year in one word it would be growth. I started Elizabeth Shuai a few days after my 20th birthday, and man was I in a weird, dark place, (you can read my emo birthday note here). I remember last year I cried as if someone died, nearly every time I was wished happy birthday. It was a mess. I felt so alone, unloved, and sad, which I know didn’t make any logical sense. At the very end of the day, an old friend sent a happy birthday text, followed by the simple question, “how was your birthday?”. It was the first time anyone actually asked how my day was instead of wishing or telling me to have a “fantastic!!” day. (And yes, I broke down in even more tears). We ended up texting back and forth for a couple of hours, talking about pain, struggles, and life in general. He probably has forgotten about this conversation, but to this day it remains one of the most important moments in my life. It was one of the first times I’ve truly understood what it means to be there for someone when they need a friend, and to let them know that they are not alone. I still have the texts saved on my phone.
Fast forward a bit, I was out of the dark, and feeling better having just landed a summer internship. I was able to power through the rest of the semester, knowing that I’d be working, learning, and experiencing new things during the summer. Throughout my internship I gained so much knowledge about social media management and how to curate content, from copywriting to putting together feeds. Not to mention everyone I worked with was really cool, like, way cooler than me. It was kind of intimidating.
I headed into my junior year of college feeling pretty confident. I was also really excited to keep working on ES, even if nobody was actually “liking” or reading my posts. Growing my blog became a big part of my life, and I was trying so hard to find my voice, or my niche. What makes Elizabeth Shuai, Elizabeth Shuai? For a while in the fall, I tried specializing in men’s fashion. I genuinely love men’s fashion, so I was disappointed when my posts geared towards men were not as recognized as my other content. Oh well, at least I gave it a shot!
In the midst of working on gaining a social media following/presence, I think I kind of lost myself. I think I was trying so hard to project this ideal, “Elizabeth Shuai” image all the time, that I sort of forgot about who I actually was (aka just your normal college student trying to deal with life like everyone else). I started to isolate myself from the real world and my real friends. Of course, this ended up a disaster as I continued to lose touch with my own reality. Coincidentally, as I tried maintaining this fake persona I couldn’t for the life of me, think of any new ideas for content. I was so uninspired and unmotivated to the point where I basically wanted to quit Elizabeth Shuai all together. Not good.
Something changed in the New Year though. I decided to completely drop the whole idea of “trying”, and instead started to focus more on me. What are my goals? What makes me happy? What can I do right now to make today better? A lot of self care and self love has been happening over the past few months, and as cheesy as it sounds, I totally believe my well being has improved. I’ve started a lot of little daily routines such as listening to the NY Times podcast The Daily as I get ready in the morning, going to yoga class, drinking mint tea before bed, and doing the occasional face mask. Oh, I’m also obsessed with Oprah’s Supersoul Sunday podcast. I find it really inspiring and motivating. Yeah, I know at heart I’m a middle aged lady who enjoys things like Oprah podcasts.
While I’ve been working on this whole self love thing, I feel like I’ve also been able to brainstorm new ideas and create more content for ES, only this time it’s different. ES has transitioned from this tryhard, wannabe persona, to essentially my own personal creative portfolio. In my about page I say that Elizabeth Shuai is, “ultimately a creative portfolio of personal content which aims to inspire, inform and influence”. Writing for ES is more exciting than ever because I’m doing it all for me now. The content I create will go towards building a strong resume that can hopefully showcase my creativity more than anything. Basically, ES is essential for any and all future job applications in the field/industry I dream of working in.
Okay, I’ve gone on far too long. I just want to say thank you to you, 20, for allowing me to fail and learn and grow. You started out in such dark, fragile unknown territory, but look at how far you’ve come! Of course, you still have a long way to go, life will be amazing and okay and horrible but I know you can handle whatever comes your way. I say goodbye to you proud, and I can’t wait to see what 21 has in store!
PS. Shout outs to Nasma, Jade, Tera, JT, Sherin, Brooke, Caroline, and Libby