What’s the Biggest Misconception About the Role You Play?

julie_matkin_coppa_emily_westbrooks

Last Saturday morning, an American blogger posed an open question on Twitter: What’s the biggest misconception about the role you play? I didn’t respond at the time, but I’ve been mulling the question for the last few days. It’s a thought-provoking question and kind of an interesting exercise to try. Thinking about it actually dug up a whole lot of emotions and thoughts about the misconceptions I occasionally run into – from readers, acquaintances and close friends alike.

My role itself changes by the hour these days – blogger, writer, editor, tour guide, photographer, stylist. I wear many hats, all under one big creative umbrella.

What’s the biggest misconception about the role I play? 

That it didn’t take hard work and hustle. It did. 

That it doesn’t still take hard work and hustle. It does, on a daily and hourly basis. 

That it’s not exhausting. Physically, sometimes. Mentally, more often. 

That it’s always glamorous. Maybe 30/70. 

That my life is exactly as you see it online, without flaws or messes or heartache. Sadly, or obviously, no. 

That because you read my words here, you’re caught up. There is always more than what I can share here. 

In the last while, I’ve felt a little disconnected from From China Village, not because I love it any less, but because I’ve reached a point in my career and in my life where I can’t share quite everything. Sometimes it’s because project details are still being discussed and finalized, or because parts of my life are not only mine to share. Either way, some days it feels like From China Village is a narrower, more carefully curated reflection of me than it used to be, before I started wearing all of these creative hats as a full-time job.

Some of these misconceptions stem directly from sharing a smaller, more curated version of my life. For a long time, I’ve resolved that this space remain a mostly professional and positive outlet – it has served as my portfolio that has launched me into the creative career I now enjoy. And I do really, truly enjoy this job. I get to share information and opinions and posts that I absolutely, totally stand behind and love. I’ve never been happier or more creatively challenged in my life. (Well, except perhaps working for a presidential race. I don’t think I’ll ever beat that high.) But that’s not to say that this career path is without its obstacles or hurdles. And it’s not to say that there aren’t things I struggle with that are less than sparkly.

I think sometimes people, even those close to me, don’t quite understand this life – that it is a curated version of my life, for professional and personal reasons. I’ve had close friends remark that they’re all up to date with everything that’s going on with me because they’ve been keeping up with my blog. A sweet sentiment, but isolating.

I’ve never fallen too hard on one side or the other when it comes to whether bloggers should share more of their personal lives. Lives are complicated, and each person should be comfortable with what they’re sharing online. I do know that From China Village has become a smaller slice of my real life here in my little apartment in Dublin, and I hope to turn that tide slightly in the future. I want to keep talking about Dublin and amazing Irish design and DIY projects. But I also want to talk about the day to day a little more – like muddy chickens because it has been raining for weeks, how I’m more homesick now than I’ve been in years, and what my big fat scary dreams are for the coming year. I’m grateful that you’re here to share this slice of my life.

I’d love to learn what the misconceptions about your role might be. Let’s talk about the real behind the scenes.

Photo by Julie Matkin.

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20 comments on What’s the Biggest Misconception About the Role You Play?

  1. Sally Anne Bennett says:

    Very interesting, I only spoke to a lady today about how we all imagine other peoples professions to be more glamorous or more interesting than they are in reality.I think we are all guilty of editing our lives to the best bits for social media ,which often doesn’t reflect totally all the other parts of our no photograped or talked about life! Almost like we are photosgpping our lives! But….. without all your lovely posts and blog tgere are so many things I would never have know about so for those thanks!

    • Sally Anne Bennett says:

      What rubbish spelling!! Typing while watching great British sewing Bee!

    • emily says:

      Thanks so much, Sally Anne. We probably do all do the same, don’t we? Instagram and social media are double edged swords – they keep us looking toward the beauty in everyday life, but they can sometimes set the standard unrealistically high. We have to remember the behind the scenes aren’t always so perfect! And I also like to remember comparison is the thief of joy!

  2. Beautiful post, Emily xx

  3. What an honest and refreshing post Emily – lots of my friends think I lead a “perfect” life from what they read on my blog but this is definitely not the case especially with a 3 month old babe! I try and write more personal posts to reflect my real life as well as sharing things I’m passionate about. I would love to read more about your everyday life :) and find out more about your chickens! If you are ever in Oxford it would be great to meet you!

    • emily says:

      Thank you so much, Claire. Little Jack is adorable! I feel you, though. You aren’t going to Blogtacular in London, are you? We’re going to England for the first time in ages next month and I’m excited to do a little English exploring. Likewise if you’re ever in Dublin!

      • Claire says:

        Sadly no, it’s a bit of a logistical nightmare with Jack. I would have loved to have gone though, maybe next year! My Dad lives in Newbridge, Co Kildare so next time we visit I might pop you an email!

  4. Magda says:

    You got to the point Emily. But I guess grass is always greener on the other side.
    I can’t wait for your new posts, tell us more about chickens and dreams.

  5. Marian says:

    I agree with you there comes a time when, to be true to yourself, some of your personal life has to seep through into our social media. Not too much but just enough to know that we are human beings behind it all. And of course only as much as you are comfortable with.

    Your post is heartwarming. Maybe I can empathise as I too am trying to decide how to welcome virtual friends into my life yet keep the professionalism that is necessary for my blog. I must watch out more for your posts going forward. All sounds interesting and a refreshing change from what you generally see on blogs.

    • emily says:

      Marian, I agree, just enough reality to know we’re all human and all in this together! I can say I think it’s a great idea to let virtual friends into real life. Some of my best and closest friends I met through my blog!

  6. RMKealy says:

    Brilliant, brilliant post – captures perfectly the difficulty in keeping a foot in each of these two parallel but very different worlds. xxx

  7. Gerry Boyle says:

    With hopes that the chickens don’t escape and your dreams come true. In this post and others, you write like the blazes as the best writing is honest.

  8. Gerry Boyle says:

    PS Keep you hustle on!

  9. Ellie says:

    What a great topic to think about and discuss! I totally understand the difficult balance between sharing life on social media, not being sucked into what we think peoples’ lives are like via social media (and think our lives need to be like that too), and protecting your self and staying genuine. I would definitely love to hear more about other life details – especially the homesickness – I can completely relate!

  10. What a beautiful post Emily. I totally relate. Thanks for sharing.

  11. The best part of your writing is when you speak about who you truly are – you are creative and honest and that connects you to your readers! I adore your blog and look forward to its evolution!

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