Not Where You’d Thought You Be By Now? Welcome to the Club. Pulling Yourself Out of Depression and Cubicle Hell.

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Dress [Zara] Bag [Celine Tie Bag] Sandals [Manolo Blahnik] [Photography] #HBGPhotography

Dear NoteBrooke,

If you read my blog or, like, any of my Instagram “captions” (The word caption is placed in parenthesis here because I generally accelerate from writing one liners to composing short form novels below each and every one of the minimum  of three posts that I put up per day), you might’ve noticed that I struggle with relatively debilitating mild anxiety on a daily basis with rare occasion.

Until this year, though, I’ve never experienced symptoms that would be synonymous with depression of any kind.

In fact, I often sit in my shrink’s office — like a mute person attempting to make an urgent, vital point via the use of outstretched, flailing arms and ultra widened pupils alone – trying to force him to understand that, AFTER ALL, the only reason that I’m anxious in the first place is as a result of the fact that I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I’m mostly… happy. Therefore, I’m [obviously/rationally/justly] terrified that a bout of chronic anxiety would unavoidably STEAMROLL my otherwise generalized state of bliss.

Are you following my logic here?

Lest you’re wondering, friend, I’ll explain it to you like this — at the outset of 2015, I was working as an assistant producer and an investigative reporter, creating content for MSNBC. It was a position that, at the age of twenty-five, I was exceedingly fortunate to attain and that I had, at one time, truly relished. Due to a number of pragmatic issues, though, by the Fall of 2014, let’s say, it became readily apparent that my time at the company was no longer particularly fulfilling on an intellectual, emotional or financial level, and that I should commence the search for a job that would challenge and enliven me once again.

Instead, I chose, by default, (meaning, by neglecting to do anything of any real credence to change my situation) to remain at the same place day after day, while watching the life drain from me like the victim of a character from Twilight.  DO YOU EVER FEEL THAT WAY?

Although my job didn’t exactly inspire me to get out of bed in the morning (or, like, at all) with the zealousness that it once had, I felt that it was a safe option, and after experiencing a culmination of failed “careers” since graduating from law school at the age of twenty-three, I didn’t want to throw in the towel on yet another occupational endeavor.

Hey, I’m collecting a paycheck – I reasoned, which, is, after all, the responsible thing to do in lieu of the fact I’m (now) a twenty-seven year old woman who holds a law degree that she doesn’t actually…use, and whose also worn the respective titles of financial analyst, model, and producer/reporter, although – inconveniently — with the exception of the latter designation, I was actually wholly dispassionate about all of these endeavors.

And so, I continuously reminded myself of the fact that life isn’t always Giambattisata and Dior and that real adults (as opposed to very thinly veiled overgrown children) often remain in positions that they sometimes absolutely fucking hate due to the fact that they need a sustainable form of income to survive.

While occupying my state of zombie like catatonia, though, the universe — as it consistently seems to do when I place myself in these kinds of seemingly ‘comfy’ situations — quickly decided to field goal kick me in the face, catalyzing a quick departure from my job that ultimately culminated in the birth of my blog as it exists today.

I purchased the NoteBrooke.com URL five years ago when I was in my second year of law school. While sitting in the recesses of the library, I began to take heed of the street style photos of female fashionstas from around the globe, noting, with no degree of dissonance, the cultural phenomenon that was birthed with the onset of girls like Leandra Medine and Arielle Nachmani to the blogosphere.  I was riveted in a way that I had never been before by any personal or professional endeavor at the very thought of maintaining something like that.

As previously mentioned, I tend to stick to with things that feel safe, and at that time, sitting there in the stacks of the library, surrounded by constitutional law books and all things Alan Dershowitz, I had no idea how to go about garnering a readership base, generating an income, and/or creating a brand that would be reflective of my personal style with any measure of actual success or subsequent growth. So, although I purchased the URL, I only updated the blog about four to six times a year, pursuing it solely as a hobby while placing my central focus on more realistic goals that were directly in front of me.

Immediately after leaving my former company, I revisited NoteBrooke and commenced thinking about its resurgence as an active, engaging and high functioning website. For the first time in my life, though, I became mildly depressed;  while the idea of starting a blog seemed amazing, I had no concept of how to make it thrive, and I rationalized that if all of my other endeavors afforded secure, clear cut trajectories to success and had still managed to end in flames, then this couldn’t possibly be a plausible option. To further my concerns, gone were the days of publicly substantiating myself with a “suitable” title…I was no longer the impressive twenty-five year old up and coming producer and reporter. The thrill of seeing my work (and myself) on a television screen had ultimately fallen flat.   Time and time again, I had admittedly failed, and the idea of starting a website from close to nothing seemed like it was an impossibility on par with getting from row at a Valentiono show. Besides – what would I tell people that my profession was?

Hi, nice to meet you, I’m a…fashion blogger?

Or, better, perhaps, I’m — a digital influencer?

Kill.me.

In addition to the fact that I didn’t know anyone in the industry (I’ve always lived for fashion, but I’ve never worked in the field, so I had zero connections or affiliations), I truly didn’t believe that people would have a wide spanning interest in receiving the content that I put out, or, perhaps more specifically, in receiving…well, me.

I started sleeping late, feeling badly about my credentials (or lake thereof), and waiving listlessly in the wind, failing to conceptualize an image of the professional fate that I wanted for myself.

Throughout this period, though, I dug my heels into furthering NoteBrooke anyway, opting to purchase a used camera at a store on Ninth Avenue and to approach my former dog walker with a request to take my pictures in exchange for a small weekly stipend. I also wrote about what it was like to be a young woman who had failed to create the Carrie Bradshaw like state of existence that we all thought we ‘some day’ wanted for ourselves upon arriving in the big city.

Budgets, boyfriends, family, friends, fashion, finances — you name it, I wrote it, no holds barred – because, candidly, I no longer had anything to lose anyway.

After awhile, people did start to take note of my work, sending me emails about the fact that a post or an image that I’d put up inspired them in some way. I realized that, over time, by finding an avenue that I was passionate about and refusing to give up at all costs, I compiled a body of work that I was proud of, and that, although I didn’t have a title, money, or a huge following, per se, I loved what I was creating.

And, as is always the case when you’re exceedingly passionate about something, I sought to push myself further, elevating my blog to the next level, increasing the quality of my photographs and branding myself in a way that would be reflective of exactly who I am.  I actively opted to meet other people who are in this industry, and then carefully curated all of my content to reflect voyeuristic images of escapism to entertain my demographic of readers while also maintaining a realistic depiction of my day to day life.

I’ve learned that we can’t change anything in our lives without imparting our good habits consistently, or in other words — ritualistically.  Owning my own website was one thing, but seeing it evolve into a success would mean that I would need to create an editorial schedule, occupy an office space, get up at an hour that wasn’t…noon (depression — be damned), carefully research stylistic inspiration prior to all of my shoots, learn how to edit photos, hire a web developer, find a photographer who wasn’t my dog walker, etc. Upon coming to this realization, I made an active decision to do all of these things on a daily basis because I wanted my blog to be the single most impressive body of work that I had ever created.

NoteBrooke is, of course, still very much a work in progress, but for the first time in my life, I don’t want to go to sleep at night if it means that I have to forego writing the article that I’m intending to post the following morning. I want to shoot my personal style photos in the rain if need be (hoping to God that my spray tan doesn’t wash off, leaving me with full body dalmatian spots), update my content consistently, have a network of professionals who I’m deeply passionate about creating all of this with – ranging from my web developer (Hi Dan Bagnall) to the repertoire of talented photographers that I’ve established relationships with, etc.

For the first time in my professional life (which, by the way, has overlapped into my personal life in the best way ever) I want it all — not because it comes with any assurances, but because I love what I’m doing here.

And so, I’m proud to say that I’ve finally found my passion…

and I am a blogger.

X,

Brooke

  • Courtney Johnston

    You’re awesome! I wish I could obtain half of your vocabulary (I’m guilty of googling some words and writing them down)! I have A LOT in common with you, including but not limited to, slight depression, anxiety, love for fashion, etc.. I am always looking forward to new posts! 🙂

    xoxo

  • Nicole Dominique

    Words can’t explain how much I can relate to all of this right now. Thank you so much for sharing your experience & for inspiring others in similar positions. So glad I came across your blog!

  • Mary Caitlin McNeely

    So, so lovely to read. It seems that my name and photo could have been your inspiration for writing this, right down to the, ahem, law degree with which i do… Nothing! Fabulous writing style as well!
    XOXO – @alongleggedlife

  • Janette Young

    Wonderful blog post. I can totally relate to your story. Thanks for sharing so much detail.