My life 'Online' is great. Just head over to my Instagram account and you'll see that for yourself, but is it really that great in 'real life'? If you peel back those Instagram filters and Photoshop layers you'll uncover the truth. Just a normal guy who experiences the same highs and lows as everyone else, battling through life. Trying to be successful in work, experiencing different cultures through travel, searching for 'the one', trying to find time for friends and family whilst forever thinking what the fuck am I doing with my life?
This weekend started on a Thursday for me, as I was an usher at one of my friends wedding which was taking place on Friday. Being freelance taking time off work is always quite stressful as you have no holiday pay, no sick pay and no pay in general if you don't put in the effort and hours. Right now I'm working so hard creating content and have a variety of different collaborations of which are focused on creating advertorial and editorial content for the brands. Interesting but time-consuming. Having a few days off work made me think about the blogging industry in general, is it really worth all the work for the reward and why I continue to do it?
5 years ago I left a very successful career in IT working for a privately owned commodities trading house where I was the global head of networks, network security and voice communications. A role that took me around the globe, from DR Congo in Central Africa to the bright lights of Singapore in Asia and everywhere in-between. If only I knew what a travel blogger was back then! I left this career to pursue a better work/life balance, something that, looking back over the last 5 years I've yet to achieve and although blogging isn't the most challenging in terms of intellect it is extremely challenging creatively and mentally. I now work from home 7 days a week from 7.30am to about 10pm most days, if not later.
The blogging industry is an odd one, it's relatively new in terms of a career and most of the time it is very individual, a bunch of very ambitious, competitive people all contesting in a saturated market place. I've been creating content on my blog since 2014 and built it from a handful of page views to one that now competes with some of the biggest men's lifestyle publications in the UK. I'm really proud of where I've got in this new workspace, but I'm also immensely proud for each and every single men's or women's blogger out there. The very early adopters of the blogging life deserve so much credit, they were the visionaries of what created the industry that many of us work in today. Then you have the remarkable creative bloggers who have refined blogging with their professionalism and exceptional content. This selection of people are the ones who have elevated blogging into editorial content creation, a segment of this industry that is arguably the most cost effective and desirable for brands. Finally you have the late-adopters trying to make it, who are incredible; their desire and ambition keeps us all on our toes. The way we consume data has changed year on year and is going to continue to evolve over time, so who knows where we'll all be in 5 or 10 years time. Each and every blogger deserves credit as you've seen a gap in the market and capitalised on it.
This year I've been working really long hours creating content for men's lifestyle brands as I feel things have really taken off with not only my blogging but my business too and I need to capitalise on the good times. My business is London shirt makers Hawkins & Shepherd and I'm currently in the final stages of creating a new collection of 'Country Shirts' perfect to wear with a tweed jacket and in the early stages of designing a new premium Made-in-Britain range of shirts. It is all taking it's toll on my work life balance as right now there is very little 'life' going on as it is all 'work'. Even events which seem great on Instagram Stories are actually considered as 'work'.
At 37 and what seems like a great life, I've been successful in my career, I've started a year-on-year growing business and have capitalised on a new industry in blogging. I've met some incredible people, some intelligent people, some people that make me belly laugh for hours and some amazingly beautiful people. All that said I'm still single and spending the weekend at a wedding with incredible couples and families really hit home. Is work effecting my ability to find a girlfriend? Am I concentrating on work too much, that my life and what I desire in my future are being affected? Is work stopping me from seeing my friends and family? Why does work take up every spare hour of every day I have? And is this the reason why I can't seem to give even what 'on paper' is the perfect girl for me a chance? Am I going to be eternally single and 'Uncle Carl' to all of my friends kids? Work has taken over, fact. Which is why I've decided to take a life detox, that doesn't mean that I'm going to stop working - hell no! It just means that my priority's need to change slightly and I'm going to look at delegating more so that I can focus on life again.
If I look back at my relationship history in the last 7 years, it's been pretty shocking on all accounts. Other than one relationship that we brought out the worst in each other I've only really had a few two months flings (I don't really know what the call them) as they had potential but went nowhere. But it's not only my love life that has taken a backseat due to work commitments but it is also my fitness. Today I felt normal again after a couple of days of insane drinking, so decided to do a boot camp class on Clapham Common with British Military Fitness. How have I got so unfit?! So it's also time for a body detox which I'm going to record my progress as of tomorrow for a couple of months and see how far I can transform in a relatively short timescale of 8 weeks.
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Photography by Sophie Milner