Happy New Year and welcome to the new and improved Love, Renee Hannah blog! You may have noticed that we’ve been off the grid for the past 5 months- that’s because we’ve been hard at work re-creating our mission statement and what we stand for, creating new content we know y’all will love, and redesigning our website and social media presence.
Before I share everything that’s new with you, I’d like to take a moment to reflect back on 2018 and share with you some of the things I have learned, and how it has changed my life. This is going to be rather long, so feel free to grab a cup of coffee and get cozy!
I’d like to share with you some of my personal struggles. If any of you are dealing with what I did, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help, whether it be from me or someone you trust. Having someone to talk to can really make a difference. In the beginning of 2018, I was stuck at a job that I can only describe as soul-crushing. Not only was the work itself less than ideal, but the people I worked with were very unkind, and unfortunately, management turned a blind eye. As one of only three women in the laboratory, I faced sexism and belittling every day when I walked into work. I put up with it for almost two years, but when their actions began affecting my work ethic, I’d finally had enough. I can’t even count the number of times I would drive home crying, or just fall apart the moment my husband asked about my day. I fell deeper and deeper into my depression, and the final straw was when I confronted HR about the problem. She admitted to me that several other employees in my position had also quit for the same reasons, but because the people bullying us were senior employees (and we were short-staffed), management did not want to lose them, so they chose to do nothing. I was angry, and above all embarrassed. How could they let this keep happening? In April, while on leave of absence from a surgery and after a long discussion with my husband, I put my notice in at work and I never went back. It turned out to be the best decision for me this year.
I spent the next several months off from working a traditional job (working on the blog full time instead) and spent time traveling, seeing family and friends, and making time for myself. As many of you know, I struggle with anxiety and depression, so making time to do things I love was so important in helping myself get back on track to a better place after the last two years. I felt like an entirely new person, and even my family commented on the noticeable changes. That break was much needed and was only possible thanks to my hardworking husband and our living situation at the time. I know how incredibly lucky I am to have such a supportive partner and believe me, not a day goes by that I don’t make sure he knows that!
As great as things were going, however, there were a few things that needed to change.
In September, I logged onto my blog for the last time and temporarily took it out of the public eye. The months I spent working on it had morphed from a labor of love and pride into something I no longer felt familiar with, something that no longer felt right or exciting. It began to feel like a chore.
Blogging is something that I love dearly but I struggle with, and I want to be so open with you about that. Others make it look so easy: post a short article, some pretty pictures, and hit publish. But it’s so much more than that. Nowadays, everyone is trying to seek out how to start a blog or make money online. It’s an oversaturated market- what I mean by that is it’s becoming very crowded. Fashion bloggers are becoming a dime a dozen, and I was really struggling with what made me unique. What makes me stand out in the crowd? Why on earth would any of y’all read my blog instead of another more popular one?
I felt like I had lost sight of my uniqueness, of me. I felt like I was trying too hard to be a persona I so desperately wanted for myself, while judging myself for not being as pretty, as skinny, as rich, or as fortunate as the big influencers out there we all know. I would lay awake at night, scrolling through Instagram, and trying not to cry as I saw influencers over and over again sharing photos of them building these enormous, beautiful homes, traveling to exotic destinations, or buying their eighty-fifth Chanel bag. Jealousy and comparison are a dangerous, dangerous game. It’s so easy to say “don’t compare yourself to others” but like most things, it’s easier said than done.
At the end of the day, only I am responsible for how I feel. No one else is responsible for my happiness. The more I thought about what I struggle with, the more I realized that I was not alone. These things are being pushed in our faces from social media every day. The pressure to always be traveling somewhere beautiful and expensive, to buy the biggest, prettiest home; to have expensive things and always be updating your wardrobe. And as much as I would love all of those things, I also needed to personally reflect on all that I do have. I have a caring, wonderful, loving husband who would do anything for me, and has supported me and my dreams since day one. He deals with my crazy Sagittarius mind when I bounce from one idea to the next without finishing the first. He understands my anxiety sometimes better than I do, and knows how to keep me calm. I have two families- my own, and my new (husband’s) family- that have merged into one large, amazing family, and many close friends that mean the absolute world to me.
If you’re still with me, thank you for reading this far. I know it’s a lot, but it needs to be said. It means so much to me that you are even here at all. Let’s bring this conversation back to the present day. It’s January of the new year, and LRH is back and so much has changed. Instead of making resolutions for the new year, I have decided to choose three words to live my life by: Grateful, Simple, Peaceful. Grateful: I am grateful for all that I do have; my family, my friends, my health, a roof over our heads, warm clothes, and food in the pantry. I’m learning every day to live a more grateful life. To do this, I’d like to start by keeping a gratitude journal (more on that soon), as well as volunteering in my community more, something which has always been important to me. Simple: I am learning to simplify my life. I would like reduce how much I think I need, to not be so wasteful, and to not be so materialistic. I’d love to reuse what I have more and as a blogger, my goal is to utilize more of what I already own, instead of always buying something new. I know most of us don’t have that kind of budget, and we don’t need to. Let’s learn how to be creative with what we do have, while occasionally buying something new (because let’s face it, I do love to shop!) And finally, we come to peaceful: I intend to live a more peaceful life. By feeling more grateful and simplifying, I can bring more tranquility to my life. Learning to compare myself and my life to others less will also help to bring feels of peace. I am hoping that by living fully through these three words, I can bring more meaning into my life this year, and grow more into the person I am hoping to become.
Again, if you’re still with me, thank you so much for taking time to read this and to follow along. One of my favorite parts of blogging is getting to connect with people all over the world. I am hoping to connect and get to know more of you this year, and really grow this into a community where we can build each other up, feel good about ourselves, and lead lives we are proud of.
I spend a lot of time at the end of my days now reflecting on everything I’m grateful for, and discussing with my husband our plans for the future. We still love to dream big and share these hopes and dreams with each other, but now they have a touch of realism to them. I know that anything is possible with dedication and hard work, and both of us pride ourselves on being hard workers. We recently moved into a new apartment while we save for a house, and we couldn’t be happier. We cannot wait to build the life of our dreams together and share it with all of y’all, and I can’t wait to hear from you too!