Georgie’s top 🔟 of the decade (2010–2019)
It’s been a while.
I don’t even really want to talk about it, or the reasons why I kind of randomly disappeared from my blog for basically two months. (I had a post in between the weird silence, but it was kind of due to that spur-of-the-moment post-conference-talk high.) It’s actually kind of depressing, and I was actually depressed for some time. I basically got really burned out without doing much at all. After writing my Passion is immeasurable post a couple of years back, I know that I wasn’t doing much – this wasn’t a case of me lacking some self worth even though I was doing a million things.
So effectively, that was really depressing. Everything in my life looked painfully unexciting to me. I realised I was basically just going to the gym, eating, working, and sleeping, and blogging – one of my only hobbies – was crawling down the drain.
Maybe I feel OK now, but I’m not sure yet.
Enough talk about my poor mental health for now, because I came to end 2019 on a higher note. 😊 I want to share with you the top ten events, learnings, epiphanies, people, things, and/or experiences that made the past ten years for me. I often dislike thinking about things like this in decades, but I think I’ve grown so much in the past ten years that I have to share (or re-share! – since, goddamnit, some of you have been reading my blog since the dawn of time).
Here’s the list in reverse order from ten to one (yeah, one is the best). 👏 A content warning that this post contains mentions of suicide and depression.
🔟 2013: I discovered minimalism 🌱
It’s been a long journey. A really long one! I’ve written a lot about minimalism on my blog in the past couple of years. It hasn’t been consistent, and I never finished writing my Journey of a Fashionable Minimalist series… 😢 But I really want to write more about minimalism, so I hope there’s more of that next year. Not making promises I can’t keep, now. 😅
From living with piles of things in absolutely every corner and on every surface; collecting trinkets, bric-a-brac, and creating collections out of everything I liked; holding onto sentimental items that were effectively trash – to owning far less things and actually being aware of everything I own, my journey has been really successful so far. I enjoy decluttering and downsizing my belongings. Even though I feel like I have a mindset of “forever decluttering”, I’m finally somewhere I’m happy with now.
9️⃣ 2012–2017: I became a concert photographer
I had enjoyed taking photos for a while. I was into disposable cameras as a kid, and then took digital photos with my parents’ camera, before the opportunity to study black and white film photography in university came up. I learned a lot about the technical side of taking photos. This naturally flew into my love for music, and my love for live music, which really took off in 2012.
I ended up shooting for a couple of high-profile entertainment websites. I got to listen to and take photos of live music for free. (I also didn’t get paid for my work – it was a voluntary job, in case you weren’t aware.) I met a lots of talented artists and discovered new music. The biggest events I’ve shot were Groovin The Moo and one of Blur’s concerts. I was ecstatic when I was contacted about the opportunity to photograph both. Although they didn’t exactly spawn my best photographs, they were a couple of my best and most memorable experiences.
Photographing concerts was also physically and mentally taxing: unless you’re “in the club”, you don’t really understand the experience of taking literally hundreds of photos per concert (I averaged about 400 per concert), and then editing them for hours – often until the wee hours of the morning, because you had a 24-hour deadline – and then getting attached to the hundreds that didn’t make the cut. Most publications just want around 30 good photos. If you had a day job, you were effectively screwed: you’d be culling photos on the train home, staying up late, or trying to edit photos during your lunch break the next day. I would sometimes have three concerts a week, or even two concerts in one night – where I’d be running from one venue to the other. I’d have to consider the distance between the two concerts, if there was a no-pass-out rule, and if I could navigate between the different acts on the night, or just photograph the main act at one of them, and which one I wanted to stay the rest of the night for… you know, it was a lot of strategic thinking.
Even though it was so gruelling, I loved it so much, and I found the end result so rewarding because of how much learning I was experiencing about photographing fast-moving subjects in low light. The challenge was incredible.
It was a bittersweet sort of snowballing fade-out: less opportunities to photograph became available, I got bored of taking photos in general – not just concerts, and the artists I enjoyed listening to spent more time recording new music, or didn’t tour for a while. I held onto my camera for a long time. I photographed one or two concerts after a year of not doing it, but after that, almost another year passed and I think I knew that it wasn’t something I was invested in anymore, so I sold my camera.
8️⃣ A certain person, for a certain amount of time.
This is one I’m a little reluctant to talk about, mostly because it goes in the box with weird “past” events that most people don’t like discussing but usually is pretty obvious – and even more so, if you’re someone like me who basically posts a lot about your life on the internet. It basically goes in the same box as awkward breakups, bad ex-boyfriends, spiralling out of control, drug and alcohol abuse, and things that the public love, love, love to shame. But the reality is that these things happen. They happen to everyone and can happen to anyone. But the fact that I’m putting it on this list means that it’s not something I’m ashamed of, or am hiding, or regret.
I met someone who became my best friend, and then lover, and it was an innocent infatuation that turned into an unhealthy relationship pretty quickly. It turned somewhat selfish, and needy, and we stopped seeing things eye to eye, which made each of us (at separate times) try to leave the other, with the other person begging to stay. Though things calmed down, I decided it all had to stop and parted with the message that there was no substance left to our relationship. It all happened during a rough period of my life, before I matured and before I think I really knew myself.
I write about this relationship here because it was honestly one of the things that had to happen for me to understand a lot of things. For most of my life, my worldview was small and I knew very few people, and I believe I lived a somewhat sheltered life, partially by choice but partially by upbringing. It was through and after this relationship that I learned to understand myself, my own feelings, the people around me, to respect the people around me, and to learn some of the biggest life lessons around communication, friendship, personal morals, societal issues, loneliness, self-worth, and belonging. This relationship was intertwined with many other things in my life, such that, if I were to re-live that relationship as the person I am today, I would have done some things differently. But as I said, it’s not something I regret, and I’m thankful for the person and the bond that we had for the time that it lasted.
7️⃣ 2012: I renamed my blog to Hey Georgie
Renaming my blog from Heartdrops (LOL 🤢) to Hey Georgie was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I did this in 2012. It kinda thrills me that my blog is still alive to this day – even though we can all admit I’ve never had a regular posting schedule since, I dunno, 2008. 😂 (Fuck content creators for making regularly churning out content “a thing”. I don’t hate content creators, I hate the establishment.)
I love y’all. Thank you for sticking around and reading for as long as you have. 🥰
It goes without saying, too, that my blog has fuelled and supported a lot of friendships I’ve had online. I’ve met some amazing people, some of whom I’ve met in person, too, from all over the world. I’ve made really close friends: my friend Monica is one of my closest friends, and she was even a bridesmaid at my wedding; I met Pauline, another blogger, in real life in Hamburg after many years of chatting and supporting each other online; I’ve yet to meet my wonderful friend Jane in real life, but by golly we’ve been friends for an era; I’ve met my friend Daniel a few times in real life and they have been there for me during a lot of tough times in the past decade.
I’ve also been able to share my stories with people who felt uplifted, less alone, or inspired, because of something I wrote. Many people will say that they wouldn’t do what they do without an audience. I think I would write even if barely anyone read my blog (and that looks to be the case now, compared to many years ago), but, I really, really appreciate those of you who read my blog every time I have a new post, or even drop by every couple of months to see if I’ve written anything new.
I want to share a recent interaction with someone whose blog I read a long, long time ago (we can say, the start of the decade, even!), and whose website I hosted for a short time. My friend Asmiya got in touch with me on Instagram recently and said that I probably didn’t remember her because we had last spoke ten years ago… but that she remembered me because she was inspired by the content I had on my website. I almost cried! I was excited because I definitely remembered her – I have a knack for remembering people even if they were only in my life for a short time – and it was so nice to hear from someone I hadn’t heard from in a while. I don’t have the same website I had back then, so she must have had to search my name somehow. People talk about changing the world, but it’s having these moments where you can affect one person, in a tiny or big way, that make all the difference.
6️⃣ 2013: I finished my masters degree
I had the graduation ceremony for my masters degree in 2014. But looking back, I think I overestimated myself. I may not have been snobby or a know-it-all, but I definitely overestimated my ability and capacity. At the time, I was an over-achiever, and I wanted to do everything in the world, and I thought that I could do my masters degree at the same time as working full-time. I thought it was totally reasonable to work 9:00am–6:00pm, go to class from 6:00–9:00pm, still do all my assignments and tests, and that somehow made sense to me. At the same time I had also just started concert photography so you can imagine where this led: lack of sleep.
I had my first panic attack in 2013. It’s one of the only panic attacks I’ve had, thankfully, but I remember it so vividly. It was about 5:00am or 6:00am, and I had been up all night editing and proofreading a group assignment. I offered to put the end product together, not expecting that an entire section would be so poorly written by someone whom I thought had far better communication skills. 😰 Everything took far longer than I expected, and upon realising what the time was, and that I had to go to work and I hadn’t slept, I remember sitting on the carpet next to my desk chair, curled up into a ball and hyperventilating and crying. I was alone, and I was OK afterwards, but after getting one hour of sleep and going through the entire day at work feeling very fragile and nauseated, I became very scared for myself and my mental wellbeing.
I wouldn’t change anything, and I would still have done my masters degree, but I definitely learned a lot of things the hard way. I was a completionist, a perfectionist, and I honestly think I wanted the finish line without thinking much about the journey. Every now and then, I don’t think I deserve my masters degree because of the state of my mental health at the time, but then I realise a lot of people respect that I have one and respect the effort it took to study for one, and then I feel OK. 💗
5️⃣ I am a UI engineer!
I somehow made a fuckin’ career out of coding as a hobby. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I wanted to be a dentist, or a geologist, and that I sort of just fell into programming/coding and developing websites. I used to work at an education centre until I nabbed a couple of job opportunities involving coding. Getting into it, I thought, “this is something I can do. I’ll see if I can find someone who will pay me to do it”. It’s kind of strange considering I got my beginnings through self-learning. I think nothing much of it, because I enjoy coding, but nowadays people consider being self-taught as something really admirable.
At the time I got my first job in the technology industry, I had been publishing some free WordPress themes on my website, which gained so much popularity that some people even tried to claim them as their own. Some of you will certainly remember this. 😂 Each week I got many reports from people I didn’t even know, telling me that someone was using my WordPress theme but removed the “Made by Georgie Luhur” link in the footer. Hahaha. I got a little angry about it, but now that I look back, it’s pretty funny. That kind of stuff still happens these days with the rise of social media, but most thieves and copycats are humiliated by the masses. I think I had a little army of people who would publicly shame these thieves in the comments section on their posts, but I would make an effort to privately email the thieves and be polite about asking them to give proper credit.
Right now I’m working as a UI engineer for a company named Campaign Monitor, and I have been there for four years (my longest standing job), and I really enjoy it. 💖 I’m still doing a lot of what I was doing at the beginning of my career, with a bunch of other nuances – “UI engineer” is just a more specific way of describing what one might know as a front-end developer or front-end software engineer.
At the time I accepted the offer at CM, I think “the dream” was, ultimately, to work for Twitter, but over time, I think CM has literally been the dream for me so far. People, culture, growth, ups and downs and all. It may or may not surprise you that I have no desire (and haven’t for a while) to work for “big tech”: many people dream of working for companies such as Twitter, Google, Facebook or Airbnb. I understand that this is the dream for some people, and I could write many paragraphs about my thoughts here, and it can get pretty deep, but basically, I am not the kind of person who enjoys working in a big company, and that just isn’t really what I want.
I can’t take all the credit for my growth. My boss at one of my first jobs helped me learn so much. I know there is the trajectory of going from knowing nothing, to knowing something, to then knowing more – and the whole thing is logarithmic growth. The growth comes extremely quickly in the beginning but then tapers off over time, because the more you know, the less there is to further know. Even though we realise how much we don’t know, we’re still further from zero than we were when we started.
I struggled to understand this pattern of growth until later on in my career. But I have grown so much in the past two years that Chris has been my manager, and he has been integral to my growth. He provides me with so much support and has been a source of inspiration for me since day one. Finding my self-worth and some kind of purpose in the work I do was initially difficult, and it does still become challenging, but I am really grateful to have someone like him around.
4️⃣ I took up weightlifting
Five years ago, I literally said “I will never set foot in a gym”. Oh, how wrong I was.
Having previously been a ballet dancer, and hating team sports, I struggled to find an exercise that I enjoyed. I ran 5 days a week for a couple of years, but I didn’t really enjoy it at all. Learning to lift weights and enjoy it was a long process, because I didn’t really understand what I was trying to get out of it. I just wanted to lose weight and be thin. When I started going to the gym, my eating habits were terrible and I gained weight from eating boxes of protein bars without doing any exercise at all.
As I started to lift heavier weights, I began to notice some physical changes and realised I enjoyed the challenge it gave me. It was hard, but it challenged me in a way that wasn’t scary. Showing up to the gym and realising how much exercise improved my mental health and my view of myself made me continue showing up. I’d been treating my body like such shit, and I had learned that if I took care of it, it would take care of me too.
3️⃣ I overcame a terrible time with depression
I was suicidal well before this decade, and I was on antidepressants for a couple of years. It was hard learning that depression doesn’t ever really go away, but the pills helped me for some time. They helped me feel less suicidal, and I decided that being unexplainably sad was better than wanting to end my life. But it hit me hard again in 2012, and that time, it really scared me. I realised I didn’t want to give up on my life, but I didn’t know how to help myself.
I don’t want to write much about all that, but I am in a much better place now. Even thinking about the fact that I wanted to hurt myself makes me cry a little. I really couldn’t see how dark a place it was, and that is why I advocate for being open about mental health: many people struggle with it, even people who seem like they have it all together on the outside. It’s still considered somewhat taboo, but a large percentage of the population struggles with mental health issues and the best thing we can do is help each other feel less alone.
2️⃣ I learned to love myself.
Fuck yeah, #selfloveclub for the win.
This is something, which, coming from being depressed and self-harming and wanting to end my life – as well as feeling worthless and hating myself physically and as a person – brings me to (happy) tears. I went through years of being rebellious and making decisions that went against what I cared about or that would hurt myself, because I didn’t think I was worthy or deserving of being happy. I thought for a long time that I had to do things for other people and didn’t consider my own feelings or thoughts. I thought it was just the way I was supposed to behave, and then I stopped caring.
I find it hard to believe that I used to be suicidal, when I think about how grateful and happy I am today. I met people along the way who inspired me to be better, not just to myself but to other people. I did more activities more mindfully and with intent, and this helped me find purpose and self-worth. I had been in such a dark place, and was so pessimistic, I never thought I could feel so positive about myself, and I think this all illustrates how far I’ve come.
1️⃣ Nicholas ♥️
I met my Prince Charming, whom I was convinced never existed. I thought we were told tales as five-year-olds to make us think there was really someone out there who was gonna sweep us off our feet, just to keep us grounded or something. I thought love was just this inordinate thing you could hand out to literally anyone. It wasn’t until I met Nicholas that I realised that love is just one word (of many words) that people use to describe a really good feeling that they simply can’t explain, and that while you can give love to literally anyone, there is something special about choosing someone to give it to, and if they choose you too.
It sounds cheesy as fuck, but Nick is literally the best thing that’s happened to me. We’ve had so many adventures together and have a lot of memories together. We support each other and have a wonderful friendship, and we also have a bunch of silly in-jokes. I am so glad to have someone incredible to share my life with. 💖
Nick and I married in 2017. 🥰
If you read up to here, thank you. Thank you for reading this post. Thank you to those of you who have been reading my words for literally a decade. I appreciate your time and your thoughts so much. I wrote at the beginning of this post that I wasn’t sure if I was feeling OK, but after writing this, I honestly am. I am feeling rather bittersweet about things, but I am filled with love and joy. Thank you for letting me reflect on the past decade and letting me share it with you.
I want to write more regularly in 2020. For most of this year I feel like I remained somewhat closed about my feelings and about things happening in my life, even though I had every intention to write about them. I look forward to sharing some of my plans and goals for next year.
I will see you in 2020. I guarantee it. 😊