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Who am I now?

September 30, 2019

It has been quite a while since my last post and I feel a bit weird about that.

In fact I feel a bit weird about a lot of things at the moment, mostly because for the first time in my career I am struggling to know what to write on here. It’s not because I’ve ran out of ideas but because I seem to be losing the battle that I set out to fight. My battle was one that tackled the fast-information and false-news culture that surrounds the cosmetic industry head on, countering  it with the subtle and deep beauty that is proper scientific process and attention to detail.  I have always loved detail and never get tired of peeling back layer after layer, relishing the opportunity to look at something that I thought I knew intimately and realising I knew nothing of it at all. However, when I look at how things are panning out in the world, it feels like nobody’s got time for that anymore and very few people feel they need to reflect, it feels like people are super sure about everything now and that questioning and probing peoples thoughts is both inconvenient and unnecessarily troubling.  Is that really true?

  Me staring down the bottle of life 🙂

I want to write my way out of this box I’ve got myself stuck in. I want to wake up and realise that it isn’t about ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ this battle because it isn’t a battle, it’s a process, a rhythm. Maybe the way I look at things should be content sitting in the background like the base track that nobody notices until it’s the only constant left. Maybe this blog never was about anyone else but myself?  Maybe what I’m trying to do here is convince myself of its value all over again? Maybe that’s true…

I guess, when I think about it, there are two things that I am now a problem for me that weren’t before.  First is the level of my investment in this game and second is are the outcomes.

It was easy to be all gung-ho and up-for-it as a newbie.  When I set out to write this blog there was nothing but blank pages waiting to be filled and connections (any connections) waiting to be made.  Now I’ve got an archive, history.  Information is coming at my audience from many different platforms and by many different types of people, some suitably qualified, some less so, none of which we as individuals can necessarily discern.  That audience has a completely different relationship with information than I do. I am old hat now and the value I attribute to information, ideas and process is out of step with this world. I guess that’s somewhat inevitable as I’m not exactly ‘young’ any more (I’ve just turned 45 BTW, in case you were wondering).

It is true that some of my customers and many of the people I talk to each week were young children when I started my business. They came of age in an era when formulations, information, mis-information and dupe brands were everywhere. Setting up a business to sell the products you’d made or curated was as easy as whipping up a virtual shop window and then promoting yourself or your goods through it, where literally anyone could become famous.  Truly enlightening really,  perfectly equitable maybe, but I do wonder about whether that’s actually true.  I, on the other hand, still have the mindset of someone who grew up in a bricks-and-mortar world where the financial stakes were high and business was generally entered into for life.  I struggle with the idea that people now establish brands and businesses without proper qualifications or industry experience, things that were needed in my day in order to convince the bank, your family or even just yourself that you could do this.  Now that’s not a thing…

So, I find myself invested in this blog and my business which is one centred on professional education and business services, in a way which no longer seems that relevant to anyone but myself. Now that even I’m questioning that mindset I’m feeling rather vulnerable which isn’t a problem for me per se, but it is rather unsettling as I honestly don’t know what to do next. Do I change how I reflect my values (refresh my mindset, move with the times) or do I stand firm in my roots and just grow new branches?

Second are the outcomes and for me these centre on how fully I feel my ‘mission’ is being achieved and I guess this is another area where I feel, rightly or wrongly that I’m (personally) losing it.

I feel that the tide of misinformation and bullshit has just kept coming and coming and coming to the point where it has often felt like it is drowning me out.  The work I did a while ago on sunscreens and specifically on the dangers of not making your own is still relevant, I still receive and answer comments on that both on the blog and via email and phone.  However, rather than me receiving most feedback saying ‘aha, thanks I suspected it was harder than it looked and I am glad I now know how to responsibly pursue this or dump the idea’,  I mostly still get people who read the articles I have written and contact me with their version of them finding what they think is a chink in my armour or a weak spot in my argument.  What I mean is that in spite of me being a chemist, of spending time and money on doing the actual testing, on presenting lots of information and evidence in a way that is ONLY invested in education most people still feel that at the heart of it I’m wrong and they are right, even when I didn’t set out to be right, I set out to be sensible, logical and realistic.  In the beginning I’d take this as a challenge, that I had to try harder and see things differently again and I did, I still do mostly. However now I’m increasingly finding that my dominant response to such challenges is for me to say ‘stuff it’, and ‘let them hang themselves’ which basically amounts to a realisation that no amount of evidence or counter information will be sufficient to put some people off doing stupid things so I should just accept that and let them.  Bit like being the parent of teenagers really, actually it is JUST like that. Again I feel old.

That’s just one example and not necessarily the most important one (to me) but it’s one that is most representative of the dichotomy that I feel we live in – drowning in information while starving for wisdom.

Side note: I don’t think of myself as wise, I think of myself as passionately invested in pursuing scientific wisdom so I’m really a tool that’s employed in the process of creating wisdom rather than the vessel of wisdom its self – I think that matters. 

Anyway, that’s over 1000 words of self-pity now and I’m quite sure that’s enough.

So why did I share this and where to from here?

Ummmm, look, who knows.  I am a business owner, this is part of my business and as such, maybe writing this will be the death of me but hey, that’s the price you pay for being honest.  I shared this because I am 100% sure I’m not the only person to have a ‘mid life crisis’ of sorts in their business, of questioning if it is all worth it, if it is cutting through, if the goals we set are being met or if they were ever worth pursuing anyway.  So that’s why.

In terms of where to from here for me I have to say that reflecting on how I’ve been feeling has helped me so thank you for reading (if you did), the writing has done its magic again and I now see more clearly why I feel so discombobulated and potentially how I can get through this (by exploring this void more deeply maybe?).

I realised late last year that teaching is valuable to me and that as such, I should probably invest more time in learning the academic side of the craft. To that end I commenced a Masters Degree in Chemistry Teaching at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst earlier this year.  The University is on Wiradjuri land, the synchronicity of which is perfect for me as I see the Wiradjuri people as strong, brave, resourceful and passionate defenders of their truth. Maybe I could draw from their strength when I’m out at Fox Hill Hollow (our Cowra Box Woodland retreat)? Maybe they can help me find my next path?

So there, I was questioning my level of investment and look, I’ve gone and invested more!  That says something.

As for the outcomes I absolutely know that the only person you can change is yourself and that setting out on a business mission to change other people was and still is foolish.  So while it was always meant to be more complex and involved than just telling people what to think, I am recognising that I’ve got so hung up on the numbers here – how many people can I set on a path of enlightenment vs how many get away – that I’ve put myself in danger of missing my own point entirely, especially if that leads to me giving up!

And that’s where I’ll end this, without solid answers but no longer flailing out at sea.

I will keep working on this and while I do, I’ll keep up the science writing because guess what, you and I are worth it 😉

Amanda x


10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 30, 2019 12:01 pm

    Believe it or not, just yesterday I thought: “When is she gonna write another article?”

    …..and there you are. 👍

    Hey, what you do is important! Keep doing it.

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
      September 30, 2019 12:22 pm

      How sweet, thanks Marion, I have a more scientific article coming right up that might just suit you.

  2. September 30, 2019 1:49 pm

    Yep, can relate to this. How our industry has changed over the years. The amount of BS is overwhelming. It seems as if brands can write what they like, and it has absolutely zero relationship with the ingredients in their products. Don’t consumers check these things? It can be depressing.

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
      September 30, 2019 3:27 pm

      Sure can Mike 🙂
      I feel excited one day and enraged for the next 6. Trying to work out how to flip that around to maintain my sanity!

  3. September 30, 2019 3:30 pm

    Some people will continue to believe misinformation even after being shown the correct information that is evidence-based. This is more a pathology and therefore, not something you can fix. All you can do is keep putting the truth out there……and that is never old fashioned.
    I enjoy your thoughtful posts even though I am not in the cosmetic science field because they often apply to life in general.

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
      September 30, 2019 3:45 pm

      Thanks for that and I’m glad my musings are applicable to more than just the cosmetic world.
      I agree and have spent quite a bit of time researching the mindset behind conspiracy theories, fake news and non-science. I do find it frustrating but you are right, it’s all part of the human condition. I just didn’t expect it to have such an impact on my ability to keep going and keep ‘well’. When you are challenged and bombarded by fakery every day as if it is right and you are wrong it can be difficult. I naively (and possibly egotistically) assumed I’d be held in much higher regard after walking the walk for 22 years but nope, I’m at the bottom of the heap with all the other scientists 🙂

  4. Kelly Hill permalink
    September 30, 2019 5:54 pm

    Ahh Amanda welcome to the era of the know it all. Was having a very similar conversation with my partner just a couple of weeks ago. Anyways there are still a few of us around that are acutely aware of how little we know and as such have great appreciation for your articles, in fact the more I learn helps me to realise that I know very little

  5. Amanda permalink
    September 30, 2019 7:58 pm

    Well Amanda I for one (and it seems like I’m not alone here) are listening to you and learning a whole lot. I too was wondering when I’d be reading another one of your articles again as I want to hear the scientific truth from your expertise. I haven’t yet lept into creating a brand yet but I relish the learning until that happens.

  6. October 1, 2019 10:12 am

    Amanda, there are a lot of us “lurkers” out here who love reading your work so please continue doing what you do. As you are probably aware, the loudest voice in the room does not necessarily belong to the most intelligent, so even though your true fans may not be the loudest voices your hear, we are certainly there, absolutely love reading your work and truly appreciate the effort you go to to create great content that gets our mind spinning. Please don’t stop!

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
      October 1, 2019 6:42 pm

      That’s lovely, thanks.
      I’m doing my best to keep the faith 🙂

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