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Welcome to Soft Launch, a column by Elyse Fox on mental health and wellbeing in a world that often feels anything but soft and cushy. In the first installment of the column, Elyse reframes new year expectations: what happens if we don’t hustle?
It’s that time of the year again, the seemingly abrupt shift from the warm and cozy (ok, and sometimes stressful and tense) bustle of the holidays to the stark, bright light of January. It feels like the holiday season flies by faster each year, the pressure of the final days of the year creeping in like an alarm you thought you snoozed. Plans for the year ahead build, resolutions are made, and when the clock strikes midnight on January 1, we’re supposed to jump into action, building that imagined new self in the new year.
But now we’re firmly in 2024, when all that excitement, stress, and tension have culminated and we’re left asking ourselves the same questions our friends and colleagues asked us a few short weeks ago: ‘What are your New Year's goals? How are you reinventing yourself? Any big plans that you’re excited for in 2024?’
I get it. We often feel like any chance to start anew should be welcomed and celebrated (and that’s often true!). But if you’re like me, all the pressure can leave you feeling sort of deflated. We’ve survived another year and all that came with it, and now we’re expected to reinvent ourselves? It can feel as if we’re operating like products, expecting a hard reboot overnight. But it’s daunting to go through the process of updating my phone to the latest iOS, so why would I expect myself to undergo a similar overhaul every 365 days? It’s a heavy mental load, and a completely unrealistic one if I’m speaking my truth.
What if we challenged ourselves to simply ✨continue? ✨
Who Am I?
I’m Elyse Fox, filmmaker, mental health advocate, and founder of the mental health organization Sad Girls Club. I struggled with my mental health for a big portion of my life until I paused to heal, finding alignment and purpose in my future. Through working in mental wellness for nearly a decade — particularly with the GenZ and Millennial population — my goal is to create spaces and build communities where everyone feels empowered to take control of their future with confidence.
Let me explain: When I consult with young creatives about their careers, I give context and background as to how I got to where I am. I’m probably overly transparent about the challenges, pivots (industry shadiness), and learnings I’ve had to maneuver and finesse my way through. I wrap up my spiel sharing where I’m continuing to learn as I grow. Some clients are pleasantly surprised to learn that I’m not an overnight success, yet many want a secret cheat code to get to their dream job in short actionable steps. But a key part of my own trajectory was not just focusing on the next step. Instead, I found that resting and taking time to just be were what ultimately led to growth. And this can be true both personally and professionally.
There’s inherent value in stillness. Taking a pause may seem as if you’re holding yourself back, but oftentimes, pausing helps us catch up to our thoughts to create clarity about the future. When you decide to sit in stillness, you’re able to ask yourself questions that align with your morals and goals, reconnect to what's important, and reclaim the flow of life you’re intended to live. Instead of reinventing yourself or forcing yourself to change, use stillness to revisit what you’ve already accomplished. In turn, this practice will help you rediscover yourself – and it’s a game changer.
As January comes to a close and the new year chatter dies down, try to remember a few things to help you prioritize what’s actually important to you in 2024 — and whether the change in the calendar really means as much as we like to think.
Reminders that help me continue:
Don’t feel as if you need to be everywhere all at once. Continue at a pace that works for your lifestyle. If someone else seems to be growing faster than you, let them. You’re riding your own wave.
Drop the trend hopping mindset. Instead, think of what you can build within your expertise that adds value and a fresh perspective within that industry or space. This is how you own your path instead of waiting to follow what’s next.
Source inspiration in unconventional places. I’ve been dedicated to adding more vibrancy to my wardrobe. I not only look at my favorite stylish girls (Sierra Rena, Alaia Ryan, B Hov), I also study interior designers to better understand how to play with shape, patterns, and mixing fabrics and colors. Dani Klaric is my go-to interior designer for inspo. Never limit where you can be enlightened.
Hide and seek. Don’t be afraid to plan a digital hideout and detox from the internet while you plan your next steps. I find myself losing way too much time comparing myself to others' timelines and I work better when I have sturdy boundaries with social media. Donye Taylor is a great example of someone who used ‘hide and seek’ to build her brand in 2023.
Practice mastery. My business coach, Tori, helped me understand the power of mastering a new hobby. I recently visited a tufting studio in Brooklyn called Scattered Kind and learned how to create a 2-foot rug in 3 hours. My hands were away from my phone, my mind was locked in on creating the cutest Bluey rug for my son, and I felt more accomplished than when I finished a day's work. The following day, I completed my entire to-do list with time to spare. Sometimes we need positive distractions.
If you were waiting for a sign to let you know that you have everything you need to be successful, here it is. Continuing may appear to be more of a challenge than starting something fresh and new but I challenge you to pick up where you left off in 2023, because your timeline is the only one that matters.
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue