*Additional episode this week. I HAD to say something. Recorded it yesterday but processing & upload speeds mean I was able to publish it only today.*

I maintain that most of the pressures are the ones that we perceive on our own. The world will always try to push you into a corner – but till what extent you let them push you is up to you to a large extent. I believe that. I live by that. When you are young and don’t have mentors who can guide you, these pressures can be devastating. I woke up to 19 year old Instagrammer, O’Neill’s video yesterday morning. I cried with her and I completely empathize with her.

I’ve been lucky to have mentorship and guidance and I’m also much older than she is but I feel the pressure nonetheless. It is not easy to combat those pressures solo. A support group, even when the support group doesn’t know they’re a support group, is important in this fight. I don’t intend to give up blogging or social media any time soon, if ever. I enjoy it and I stick my middle finger up to the pressures. My ultimate goal – as it seems to me currently – is to be happy. Is to enjoy what I do and to attempt to find *some* meaning in what I do.

I’ve always had a strange relationship with money. I’ve always wanted more – but only till a point where I don’t have to worry about “rent”. I’ve reached that point. Now, I find myself wanting *more* in terms of the work that I do. I will take time figuring out what it is that I want *more* of. But when I was 19, I did not know what the fuck I was doing – mostly anyway. It was 1999, my Dad had installed a computer at home in 1997, I used to use IRC Chat! I was in second year of a Bachelors of Commerce degree and I was dating boys, wondering why I was wasting my life & trying to not be scared about “What’s next?” I wasn’t aware of any opportunities that existed for me to do more.

I used to hand-paint and embroider greeting cards that I would then sell to my college professors and fellow-classmates who could afford to pay Rs. 300 per card. I’m not sure how I even came up with the idea of doing this but I’ve been a life-long student of the art of monetization. I’m guessing I always will be. Hopefully never at the cost of inner peace and integrity. And hopefully, if I ever do fuck up,  I will have the strength and courage that O’Neill has.

When in doubt, ask. Question the brands that you work with. If anything – ANYTHING – makes you uncomfortable, remember, you can walk away. That is your choice. You don’t get to blame external influences and say that you continued to make mistakes because of external pressure. The choice to accept that pressure is yours. Make mistakes – learn from them – sometimes you’ll repeat them. I know I did. Track that pattern and try to break away from it. Practice. Do not feel alone because you are not alone.

I’m sure there are other 35 year old women out in the world who are struggling with questions about “What next?” just like I am. It’s ok. Our struggles are more similar than we’d like to believe.

Make it a habit to step back from your work every 3-6 months and continually re-assess why you’re doing what you’re doing. The chances of you being satisfied with what you’re doing will be higher.

Aim to be *fit*, not thin. You owe it to your body and your work – you’ll do better work when you’re fitter. Please don’t starve yourself, it is detrimental to your health in the long run. Wouldn’t you rather do your best work?

Essena O’Neill… *hugs*

( On The Naina Redhu Experience, I talk more about things related to photography, blogging, the industry, social media etc. I’m doing these videos regularly now – every Wednesday 0900 hours Indian Standard Time on my YouTube Channel : youtube.com/nainaredhu )