The Day “Self-Help Content” Stopped Helping Me

The other day I told my partner, “I’ve heard something on this podcast that really made me think. It goes ” The only difference between you and the people who are successful, is that they’re doing it, you’re not“”. Well, something along those lines anyway. He looked at me and said, “Yeah (sigh), I don’t really connect to that, I mean, this kind of stuff just goes without saying. What’s the point of that kind of affirmation anyway?

I thought he had a point, but to be honest I also thought, because he doesn’t have Instagram or listen to podcasts, “Well, he doesn’t really get it, he’s not familiar with that kind of content. He might see it from a, not hostile per say but “meh” point of view.

A few days later, I heard the exact same sentence on another podcast, and for some reason, it made me feel really angry. I don’t know if I was angry at myself, or the type of content I ingest, or both, but I decided it was all a bit too much. What was? All the “self-help” content I listened to, watched, read about.

*When I talk about self-help here, I know the term probably is too vast, and a business podcast for instance might not be considered like self-help content, but basically to me it means, any content related to how to improve your life, be successful, be better at communicating, be confident etc. Hope it’s clear!

It started with a few success stories about people making it. It would usually go like this “I started from nothing, worked my ass off before and after going to my everyday job, and after a lot of hard work, not seeing my friends, or family because of the amount of work I was dedicated to throw myself into, it finally…worked. See what I did there?

Then I started to see people on Instagram telling their audience, “I know I posted this amazing photo of me on holidays looking glowy and all but just know that right now, I look and/or feel like shit.

I could not stop consuming stories about entrepreneurs, content creators, self-help book writers, people who inspired me. And, don’t get me wrong, some of them still do BUT, we’ll come onto that later.

Then followed, videos, TED talks, articles, Linkedin posts. They were all about the same idea, turned into a statement: you are responsible for your own happiness. Which, let’s be REAL, and nuanced, is so simplistic and just not true. It simply doesn’t take into account, culture, social background, education, life shit, anything. It’s an affirmation making you responsible for your own happiness but it sort of means that, if you’re not happy, well, guess what? That’s on you as well.

Then I started to see people on Instagram telling their audience, “I know I posted this amazing photo of me on holidays looking glowy and all but just know that right now, I look and/or feel like shit.” And everytime I saw that kind of post I thought, “Ok, then Why would you post that amazing looking picture of you in the first place? And then remind us that, hey, it’s not real life folks, don’t forget!” Some say, “I want my account to be positive, I want to spread joy”, etc. Which is a nice thought. Yet, they must be aware that this type of content does not have that much of a positive impact on people if they keep having to apologize for it, or deconstruct the images they put on Social Media for the sake of being honest and more transparent, right?

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It all started to make me feel dizzy, guilty and worst of all, small. I remember walking around in my flat, cleaning or folding my clothes away, listening to this podcast and hearing for the second time in a few days : “The only difference between you and the people who are successful, is that they’re doing it, you’re not“.

I stopped doing what I was doing, and said out loud, “Stop. This had to stop“.

I don’t want to meditate, or maybe I do, but ultimately, do I want to hear about other people LOVING it all the time?

Consuming all this so called “self-help” content was not helping me at all. Years ago I’d be excited about it, it felt really new and full of hope, and I guess in a way, it was really new and full of hope, and probably necessary as well. However that day, I thought, ” Too much “self-help” content is eventually going to fuck me up.

I don’t even think I want to be an entrepreneur. I don’t like to fake it until I make it. I don’t think it’s easier to give up than to pursue your dreams, it’s way more complicated. I don’t like making lists, I always loose them or if I don’t, I forget to tick the boxes. I don’t even like baths and candles, it’s so boring it does not help me to reset at all. I don’t want to meditate, or maybe I do, but ultimately, do I want to hear about other people LOVING it all the time?

I miss raw content, unedited honesty. I miss real life stories. You might argue that culture, online content should or could, amongst other things, make us dream. And I agree. The thing is what I was consuming was not making me dream anymore. Because you know what makes me dream? Real life. With its flaws, errors, misundersantings, wobbles, failures, successes, joys, hopes. All of it. I’m sick of the edited version. I don’t love the word authenticity but I’m going to be crazy and say that, I want more of it.

I want the good, the bad and the ugly.

This post is a bit rambly. You might disagree or think it’s just another rant against society, consumerism, social media, and it might as well be. Oh also, I’m well aware I might be contributing to that, yet aren’t we all? I’m not sitting here judging everyone, I’m just being honest.  Anyway, I’m now choosing very carefully what I watch, read, listen to “self-help” wise, and I’ll share it with you soon. I touched on that a few months ago, and I’ve already done a bit of clear out this summer. But it’s not over.

What do you think about all this? Do you feel the same or not at all?

This space is called Le Beauty Journal and I like to think beautiful things in life can be rough, raw and real. Same goes for happiness and success. Failures and disappointments. We’re just doing our best. Don’t you think we might need less “self-help” if we could just help each other?

It’s the little things you know.

Working From Home : 5 Tips To Be Productive

I’ve been working from home for the past 4 years. First I was a remote employee, now I’m doing freelance which is a completely different vibe. However, when working remotely my amazing manager and colleagues have shared their “working from home tips” with me over the years. I was definitely inspired by what I’ve learned on my own, and by what I’ve been advised… Though the first and only rule should be, you do you!

Why an article then you might think? Well because it’s always reassuring to read about productivity tricks because where to start right?

I was basically a Carrie Bradshaw in the making. Or so I thought.

But the actual truth in my opinion is : try things out, find a routine if you can but don’t freak out if days don’t look the same, if you’re not as productive as last week, if sometimes you find it hard to be motivated, if you find the line between personal and professional gets blurry or if you find yourself putting makeup on at 5.30pm because you haven’t left the house. It’ll get easier, and you’ll eventually find what works and what doesn’t work for you.

When I got this job where I’d work remotely, I thought “This is the dream. I can work on my computer from my couch in my pyjamas and have coffee all day long and not have to socialize with colleagues I don’t even find funny and…” I was basically a Carrie Bradshaw in the making. Or so I thought. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years…

  • Working from home is working, period.

This is key. What it means is, no your friends can’t pop around for tea so you have to make things clear for your friends, family etc. Working from home is great and it might look like heaven to those who don’t, but it’s still work. Let’s say you’ve decided to work roughly between 8am and 5pm for example, you’re as unavailable as they are. Why? Because you’re at work. Just so happens that work is located in your home.

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Try to make your office look nice if you care about that sort of stuff because it does help to get in the mood.
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You know how when you have colleagues, you take coffee/tea breaks? Well, take a little break during the day just to quickly reset and get your groove back. I always make sure I have a full pot of coffee ready in the morning to keep me going.
  • Get dressed. Or don’t.

Working in my pyjamas seemed like an absolute luxury and I believe it has to do with the fact that I hate waking up. I’m 29 and still struggling. In a way, keeping your PJ’s on means you don’t have to face the world the same way than when you get dressed, drive or commute to GO to work. You’re up but you’re still in the warm comfort of your own home, drinking coffee out of your own mug, wearing something comfortable.

Well, I hate keeping my PJs to work. Which in a way makes sense when you read this sentence doesn’t it? Would you wear your pyjamas to work? That’s what I thought.

However a friend of mine just loves it, and it does not affect her productivity at all, or only in a good way I reckon. I did try to of course because of this romantic vision I had and to be honest, I still have massive FOMO that I’m not one of those people who enjoy working in loungewear. I like to get dressed, wash my face, sometimes even put makeup on and then I head out to…my work space which is basically my living room. Though I have a proper office in there with a proper chair which is very important to me. It sets my mood and helps me realize that I have to get shit done!

  • Structure your day…

Try to start around the same time everyday, set a time to eat a proper meal for lunch and try to finish work like you’d stop working if you were in an office because everyone’s going home so why stay late if you’ve done what needed to be done. Of course in some jobs, you could always work, always do more, and find it difficult to actually stop. When I started my remote job, I was extremely committed to the mission and wanted to be sure I was working enough. I did not know when to stop and I’d end up at my computer at 8 or 9pm just refreshing my emails, checking projects that we’d be working on, trying to think of groundbreaking ideas… Let me tell you, I did not have one single good idea at 8pm on a friday staring at my computer. Basically, I found it difficult to stop working without feeling guilty so I told my manager. She helped me to set tasks and to structure my day but also, and that’s the main thing I guess, I knew she trusted me to do a good job. The only problem was, I wasn’t trusting myself. That’s a whole different issue BUT to help with that feeling, making lists, creating a routine and try to avoid procrastination really helped. So I started working fro 8am-ish to 6pm with a lunch break in the middle and when my partner would come home, I knew it was time to close all the tabs on my computer and put it away. I also disabled work emails notifications from 6pm so I wouldn’t be tempted to check and eventually answer. It’s a bit more difficult to do that as a freelancer because I only depend on myself but I try to stick to a real routine because it sets you up for success I think. There’s a time to work and a time not to, own it.

  • …but be flexible

If you have a doctor’s appointment, need to catch up with a friend or just suddenly want to get your hair cut you don’t have to take a day off. Enjoy! It’s one of the perks of working from home, you’ll finish work a bit later that day and that’s that. Allow yourself to make the most out of this situation. Also, working from home can get lonely so when there’s an opportunity for me to head out and talk to people, I take it!

  • Don’t forget to eat

I don’t eat breakfast though I really want to make it a new habit, but it means that if I realize at 3pm that I haven’t eaten anything, it’s bad. Set an alarm for your lunch break and stick to it. Don’t eat in front of your computer. Try and think about the meals you’re going to have during the week when you go grocery shopping. I hate cooking lunch for myself, so I tend to either eat something that me and my partner had the night before, or have something like a soup with a bit of cheese and a fruit for example. I’ve also recently discovered mackerel in mustard sauce which is quite nice… Ha, well, I’m sure you’ll do better than that, I’m the worst at finding things to eat in the flat and I don’t really know how to cook from scratch so it’s a work in progress! The main thing is to make time for lunch. People who work in a office take the time and it’s not being more productive in my opinion to eat a sandwich in 5 minutes in front of your computer. Take a step back, refresh your mood and ideas, come back to work.

Hope these first few tips helped and good luck with the working from home thing. Don’t feel guilty by the way if people don’t get that working from home is actual work, it’s getting more and more popular these days, they’ll understand it eventually. You just sit back and enjoy!

English summer, life discoveries and a well needed reset.

So, I took a break. What do you mean you hadn’t noticed it?

I know. I did not really think about it, I just took it which is good in a way, right? Holidays started with a long week-end around la Loire, followed by family events, then I went to London for about 10 days, came back and was basically in denial that summer was, in fact, going to end. Bring on autumn though, it’s by far my favorite season, but I have to say, I have loved this summer. It’s been crazy hot, I wore dresses every single day which you know was a new thing for me this year, I finished a book and started two new ones, I spent time with friends and family, it’s been NICE.

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To ease myself back into blogging I thought I’d share with you a few things I’ve learned and discovered over the past two months.

  • You’re on proper holidays when you have no idea what day it is. You’ve heard it before, but isn’t it so true? From my mother in law’s garden in the North of France to the crazy busy and hot Northern Line in London to my godmother’s vegetable’s garden in the middle of nowhere (I kind of had a connection with nature this summer, how insufferable of me!), I somehow managed to forget about days and time. It took me a few days of course but It had not happened in a few years, so I’m glad I was able to actually enjoy moments and not project myself in the past or the future. Oh you know what helps? Leave your phone away, don’t bring it everywhere with you, you will be fine.
  • Wine on the Eurostar is perfection. I mean I don’t even have anything else to say. Standard Premier was cheaper than normal tickets for some reason. Therefore, coming back home from London a little drunk because we had some free wine on the Eurostar was simply heaven.
  • Chemical exfoliation is not for me. I got super enthusiastic about being on holidays in London (I lived there for a year, that’s why I can’t shut up about it, I love it), and when in Liberty… bought myself the cult P50 by Biologique Recherche. Now, my skin has reacted quite badly to Liquid Gold by Alpha H in the past, not every time but a few too many, yet I really wanted to give a try to P50, and I could not retain myself when I saw the bottle on a (very lovely because Liberty’s a treasure for your eyes) shelf. Well, I applied it straight away when we came back home, and had an allergic reaction the next morning, that lasted 10 days! So I’ll stay away from chemical exfoliation for now.
  • Downsizing the number of people I follow on Instagram means I don’t have that many people to compare myself to. I took this decision after our holidays where I did not check my Instagram that much at all and consequently felt so much better about myself. I needed a bit of a reset. Of course I tried to find an app that’d help me to unfollow massive amount of people but I could not find anything that actually worked. They don’t make it easy for you, do they? So it did take quite some time but it was definitely worth it. Just be prepared if you’re thinking about it, might take an hour or so! I now only follow people who inspire me, and make me feel good. Easy peasy. I also have a personal Insta account with my friends etc, that I don’t use that much but it does allow me to separate the blog feed and the more personal stuff. I even got an Insta notification last week telling me “You’re all caught up. You’ve seen all new posts from the past 2 days”. Mad.

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  • Cerave hydrating cleanser if the perfect cleanser if you’re on a budget and have extremely sensitive skin. Extremely gentle, I don’t know about the hydrating claim because I leave it on for one minute but it does not strip the skin. I got it in Boots, but also found it in my local french pharmacy. Honestly, so good.
  • Real Techniques mini travel brush duo is cute and brilliant. Perfect size if you’re going away and of course, like all Real Techniques brushes, affordable and effective. Got them in Monoprix in my hometown, but you can get them in Boots of course, and online.
  • I need to start eating breakfast. I’ve never been a “morning person”, I mean, what even is that? (We’ll talk about that in more details in a different piece soon by the way.) I usually never, I mean ne-ver, have breakfast. It’s been like that since I was a kid. While on holidays, in my family and in London, I did have breakfast (i.e bread and butter) almost everyday and it made a big difference to my day to day life. So I’m willing to give it a go, I just don’t seem to find the motivation at 7am in my flat but I will make an effort. Might be life-changing for all I know, and everybody’s been banging on about it for decades so you know, thought It might be time I’ll think about it!
  • Now THAT, is a good show. We have been watching Treme the HBO TV series by David Simon who also is responsible for The Wire, probably my favorite TV show of all time. My friend really sold it to me and she was right : It’s brilliant, revolting, smart, moving, funny, best summer discovery.

That’s all for now! Hope you all had a lovely summer. Do share your highlights if you have any, I’d be interested!

I’ll be back, not in two months, no no, like, this week? This week!

Why Should Our Eyelashes Be Dark And Long And Our Body Hair Non-existent?

The other day, I was having my legs waxed, and because I find it boring and painful, I started a conversation with the beautician, and the subject was, as it often is, the tyranny of hairless legs. She said, “that’s very true, men don’t have to go through it. I wonder why, it’s so unfair. But I have to say it looks prettier and certainly feels cleaner when your legs are waxed.” I raised an eyebrow. I think I get to hear this sentence every single time I go to the beautician. No it’s not cleaner and why would we look better without it? Isn’t it the most natural state of the body? Also, why the fuck should we always smile and be pretty?

Now, I’m not blaming my beautician. I’m not blaming anyone really. It just makes me really angry to think that female body hair are so stigmatized. Also, to be contradictory because hey, I’m human, I wax and shave and epilate. All of these. And I hate it. But I do like how it looks. So you won’t find any definitive statement about body hair here, just a reflexion on this very summery subject, that I’m forced to face, only wanting to wear dresses and skirts because of the heatwave we’ve been having.

My mum doesn’t have any body hair really, and is a little bit proud about it, which really did not help when as a teen, I had to use Jolen cream on my mustache to dye it blond.

Today, I read a great article on Man Repeller written by Haley Nahman, the piece is titled, “4 Women on Loving and Growing Their Body Hair“. It’s a brilliant conversation, and definitely made me think, yet again, about how absurd having to shave/wax/epilate all the hair on our bodies is. One of the women being interviewed said something that stuck with me, “Your hair is who you come from, just like your eyes, lips and teeth. I love that. When I think about my bush, I think of bodies in the wilderness; we grow a natural blanket of protection.

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This really added a new perspective on my morning which I’ve spent exfoliating and shaving because I’m going away this weekend. Truth be told, when I read the article and scrolled down to see the pictures of hairy women, I was like ” hum, that’s a bit intense isn’t it? Oh wow, that’s how some women look with hair on their legs“. Because you know what? I’ve only, once in my lifetime, seen a woman sporting hair on her legs. I was in SF for a work trip, and this lady on the bus had a gorgeous dress and super long dark legs hair. Isn’t it crazy that it was the first time I’d seen hair on a woman’s legs?

My mum doesn’t have any body hair really, and is a little bit proud about it, which really did not help when as a teen, I had to use Jolen cream on my mustache to dye it blond. I was so envious of her and so self-conscious about my body hair. Though to be fair, she did tried her best to help me out you know, with dealing with those unwanted hair. I think I first got my legs waxed at 13 because she did not want me to shave, and told me that if I kept on waxing, I’d have way less hair as an adult. Of course, one summer, tired of having to watch my hair grow enough so I could get them waxed, I got my first razor, and the rest is history.

Boys definitely did not help with the body hair and stache situation. I grew up in the 90’s, I don’t think it got better, and have no idea how kids deal with it nowadays. But back in the days, it was very painful, and it has ruined the “already-not-that-high” self confidence I had. I’m actually so thankful for beauty bloggers who speak out about how they get rid of their body hair, and also thankful for this article on Man Repeller. You do you, for sure. I believe it’s brave in a way to let your hair go au naturel. I certainly don’t feel like I could do it anytime soon. Yet this article really made me think about the endless conversations about body hair with my beautician, my sisters, my friends… And after reading it, and reminiscing all the hair removal questions that I had when I was a kid, and all the shaming there is around body hair, I kept thinking : “Why should our eyelashes be dark and long and our body hair non-existent?

On that topic, I’d recommend you read Haley Nahman’s article, and read Man Repeller all together because it’s a super smart website. Nadine Baggott and Emma Guns did a good video about hair removal if you feel like you need advice in that department, oh and this conversation on, you guessed it, Man Repeller, is super interesting as well.

Anyway, no real answers but a lot of questions, thank me later right? I’d love to know what you think about this topic though!