a personal style blog by Lauren Pfieffer

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Am I Too Sensitive For the Internet?


I remember back in the peak of blogging public enemy #1 for me was GOMI, or get off my internets. If you have no idea what the fuck I'm talking about, it's probably for the best, but I'll explain what it was.

GOMI was kind of like the Diet Prada of the 2010s to roast tone-deaf bloggers and the wild shit they would do. The actual blog was pretty good, and I found myself checking it weekly and reading the gossip about so-and-so. A quick google search and it seems like the site is still up and running, doing the Lord's work.  Where the fun ended for me were the forums which were like a reddit where you could start threads about different bloggers. I thought it was the worst thing in the world to have people saying shitty things about me, but if I read back on them 12 years later as an adult I'd probably agree with most of the sentiment about teenage me lol. I was a little self-righteous ass-hole.

I'd prefer this kind of behind-your-back shit talking to what it is now where people just write what they don't like about you directly to you. At least I could choose whether I wanted to read it instead of having it forced in from of me unwillingly via a comment or a DM.

I've always been sensitive. Too sensitive. I might even classify myself as a HSP (highly sensitive person). I cry when I'm angry, sad, hurt, scared; you name it. I feel a lot of things and at certain points in my life it feels like a positive: but, recently it feels like a weakness.

I get that I'm not for everyone. I even irritate myself sometimes. But in the last 3-4 months or so, I've noticed this increase of people having a negative thing to say about the topics I talk about or the way I choose to live my life. 

The social media manager in me tries to take myself out of the picture and look at what's happening from a macro POV. Accountability for Internet personalities has risen the last few years and continues to. As it should, to a reasonable extent. We demand more from the people we follow & give our social currency  (which translates to $$$$) to and sure, we'll forgive a mis-step here or there...but one too many and it's a full-blown cancel. 

Platforms like TikTok thrive on authenticity (the opposite of Instagram's aesthetics-based machine), and it's allowing more people to open up about personal topics. Which should be a positive! Mental health, self-esteem/appearance, relationships...I know for even myself personally when I come across a video on my FYP that has the person speaking to me in a realistic, friend-like way, I'm more drawn to them. We form a parasocial relationship, or a "one-sided relationship that a media user engages with a media user engages with in a media persona." Sometimes because we see someone and think we 'know' them because we know their internet persona, we believe we can say anything we want. You can, but it doesn't mean you should.

I think this post from Nedra Glover Tawwab sums it up for me.

Whether I deserve individuals critiquing and correcting me about or if it's just a part of this weird shift in social media usage, both of them result in the same distressing emotions for me.

It's hurtful to look at my phone and the first thing I see when I wake up is a preview of a message saying something negative. 

I think about it all day, obsess over it, feeling sick to my stomach. Are they right? Do other people believe that about me? I wonder who else thought that and didn't say it? Could I have provided more context? Should I go back and change my caption? Delete my post? Do I not talk about this topic any more? Am I being dismissive about their experience if I feel like what they said about me isn't true? Am I problematic? Am I annoying? Do people hate me?

I'll spiral all day and usually it ends in a bunch of frustrated tears because I hate disappointing people. When they're unhappy, I feel like it was my fault and I want to make it better, and that has been a habit I've carried with me in my romantic relationships, friendships and even work until there was nothing left of me at. I was just a patchwork quilt making up everyone else's thoughts but my own.

I've thought about this a lot and discussed it in therapy quite a bit, trying to process and objectively look at all the angles until they make sense to me. Where do I go from here?

The internet has always been my place where I come to express my feelings and maybe it can't serve that purpose for me anymore. I'm 28 now, not 16. I have so much admiration for those on the internet that continue to showcase their true selves and open up about the really hard parts of life. It makes me feel seen to witness others going through the same things I am. I always want to do that for others, too. But I can't continue to at the expense of my own mental health and well-being.

At the same time, part of me knows that whether I choose to put myself fully out there or hide parts away, there will always be negative opinions. Is it worth pulling back if it's inevitable?

Maybe it's more about balance. I'm always seeing things as black or white. All in, or nothing at all. Perhaps getting to a place of sharing less, but still sharing the important things that I'm not willing to compromise on is a better median. I think in the meantime, I need to continue to work through not taking everything people say about me so personally. It's just the internet. We all need to relax.

With much love,

Lauren

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Monday, January 31, 2022

January Wrap


January somehow always feel like the longest, most confusing month of the year. It's half in that lulled holiday haze of December, but then you're shoved back into reality at 100mph trying to start the year off on the right foot. Throw in seasonal depression and mercury in retrograde and it's always a hell of a ride. 

I'm going to attempt (making no promises here) to write a monthly wrap at the end of each month of just some of my favorite things and favorite moments. Here's January.

What I felt:

My month was separated out half in Ohio, half in NYC. It's always so hard to come back, and I've become accustomed to the emptiness I tend to feel when I leave home. I've been able to develop coping mechanisms to get me through that tough first week. The adjustment wasn't too bad this time around, and I was able to get myself in a good rhythm of routine this month in creating, cooking, exercising, reading, and of course, working.

Despite perhaps my highest productivity yet, I felt very burnt out. When things in my professional or personal life still felt chaotic despite my best attempts at creating beneficial systems to help myself, I felt like giving up. What's the point of trying *so hard* for everything to still be a fucking shit show? 

I'm really working on continuing my productivity (and positivity) systems into February and not giving up. I hope making progress on this will eventually allow me to feel less overwhelmed with my life.


What I was proud of:

I've never, ever been a morning person. But I was finding that starting my days waking up 5 minutes before my first meeting of the day wasn't uhhh, super effective. So, I made an intention to start waking up earlier this month after getting back to NYC and it's been really great! I'm not up at 6 or anything yet, but even waking up at 7:45-8:00ish every day has helped me tremendously in setting my days up for success and getting a moment to myself before I begin the craziness. I attribute going to bed at a decent hour to my ability to get up lol. 

I also made an intention (they're kind of like resolutions, but softer. read more here) to find movement 3x a week. Consistently moving my body the last few months has been a priority that has fallen to the wayside. I've had some issues in the past about being obsessive with my working out, so I wanted to keep the kind of movement open and just find it 3x a week. I've kept my intention and I've been feeling great. A lot of yoga and some sessions back at the gym weight lighting. My ass hurts. 

What I struggled with:

I struggled this month with people's opinions of me online and their criticism. I've gotten to the point where I feel like I can hardly share anything online without being met with a sharp word or unsolicited opinion about what I'm doing. It's left me feeling exhausted and honestly fearful to share anything personal on Instagram or TikTok. Which makes me sad, because I never feel quite like myself sticking to surface level things. It's kind of why I've come back to the blog. I feel like this space is less seen by most people and I can more freely share what's on my mind.

What I wore:

Lots of fun outfits this month, despite it being January! I've been making it an initiative to get dressed every day working from home, and it's been fun to flex my creativity. 

I was inspired by Audrey Hepburn's style a lot this month (probably the pixie cut) and also played around with 70s styles, which is new for me! One of my reads this month, more down below, inspired me to explore 70s looks a bit more. 

I started a new series on TikTok breaking down my outfits, this one casually garnering 190,000 views which is pretty wild. 

What I read:

I finished up Wintering by Katherine May which was a good read on finding rest in retreating during hard times. I think I needed to read something like that for where I am right now, but also a great book I know I'll come back to. 

I also finished 50 Years of Fashion by Valerie Steele which I've had on my bookshelf for years at home ad never read. I forgot how much I enjoyed reading and learning about historical fashion and it really lit a spark within me to continue cultivating my knowledge in this passion! 

What I watched:

Fun fact about me: I love trashy TV. At the end of the day, I don't have much of the mental capacity to concentrate on a show, so I enjoy watching mindless things that make me chuckle.

Hype House was about the TikTok content house full of 20-year olds that I actually really enjoyed and found fascinating, although a lot of other's didn't enjoy it. I work in social media so I think there's some personal interest there for me.

Other trash I really enjoyed: Too Hot Too Handle Season 3. The show is absolute ridiculous but somehow I still fall in love with the characters and their development every time.

For movies, I watched Girl Interrupted for the first time (holy FUCK Angelina!!!) and re-watched Chocolat. Definitely on an old-movie kick right now. 


What I ate:

Fixed a lot of salmon. Up until last year, I'd never had it but it's really been my go-to, easy weeknight meal I've been fixing at least 2x a week. 

It felt so good to get back to the NYC food scene and all the amazing restaurants here. 

Olea continues to be a favorite of mine - I got braised short rib special and mulled wine.

Tried Miriam for the first time! Chicken Snitzel was A+++.

Visited my old stomping grounds of Stonefruit Espresso and remembered why it used to be my absolute favorite. The apple chai bundt was to die for.

What I listened to:

Podcast wise I started listening to The Mindset Mentor. Really loved this episode on 'What to do Every Morning' and 'Are You Making Your Life Harder?'

Been on a Del Water Gap kick something bad. Would love to see him in concert in 2022. 

Wanting to get into records (have been for awhile....) and currently shopping around for my first turnstyle. Will let you guys know when I pull the trigger on one!

What I bought:

Biggest purchases this month were items at the Manhattan Vintage Show ! I like to go once a year to drool over every thing and sometimes purchase. This time around felt a little different. Usually I'll talk myself out of items I love: "It's too expensive! You have no where to wear it!" This is really hard for me. Sometimes I think I don't deserve them or it feels frivolous, but the reality is I never buy 'new' clothes aside from thrifting, and even if I did, I probably would pay close to the same amount as these vintage pieces....so why not? You can see what I got here.

Cheers to February!

With much love,

Lauren 
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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Lineage


When I was home in Ohio for the holidays, this theme of lineage and traditions kept coming to mind. 

I think the holidays are perhaps the time of year when most of us have the fondest memories of childhood. It brings about things our parents or grandparents would do for us every year that solidify in our mind and we reflect back on many years, often decades, later. 

For me, it's baking sugar cookies with my maternal grandmother. It was always a multi-day process. 

Creating the dough from a scratch recipe that was passed down from her mother and letting it chill overnight in those big, primary colored Pyrex mixing bowls (funny I now have my own set). 

Rolling out the dough and picking out the shapes from the drawer of metal cutters -- a star, a candy cane, a Santa, and a reindeer (a bitch one to frost with all its little curves). 

Watching them puff up through the glass of the oven and removing them to cool. I was always sneaking one to eat before frosting, to me they tasted best when they were warm. 

Mixing up the powdered sugar for homemade icing and choosing which bottles of food coloring we needed to attempt some colors. 

Frosting with a curved butter knife and turning green with envy over the way my grandma was always able to smooth the icing so perfectly while mine gooped over the edge.

Finishing it all up with the many different sprinkles from my grandma's collection and ALWAYS putting an eye on the reindeer. 

Another thing I really reflect back on is my grandma's tree and the ornaments she put on it. Her living is room small, the tree was always narrow and tall -- the opposite of ours at home. She made magic with the tree, filling it with her snow baby collection and accents of red birds and berries. But the ornaments I always admired most were the old ones. Three stick out in my mind.

The velvet elf with the teal outfit, a sweet smile and full cheeks. A tag with 'made in Hong Kong' on the bottom. 

The velvet reindeer that was red with little white spots.

The carousel that had a little fan that twirled with the air from the heat register came up.



I had my first real tree in Brooklyn this year, a little 4.5 footer bought at the bodega on the corner of Atlantic Avenue right by the Salvation Army. I'd been adamant about finding vintage ornaments for it that could carry on some of that nostalgia and tradition that I felt at home and my grandma knew that. She gifted me this year the prized velvet elf I've loved for so long. I can't wait for it to be the first one I hang up next year.

While I was home, she gifted me something else. Two aprons that my great-grandma Nellie wore when she baked. 

I never met my great-grandma, she passed before I was born, but I'm always told I would have loved her. She was tiny at 4'11" and had 6 children (my grandma the youngest) and loved to bake. My grandma has always said she wishes that she had some of her hats and gloves that they donated when she passed because I would have loved them. ❤️

I picked up baking during the pandemic as a way to pass the time but to also self-soothe during such an anxious time. I'd been looking for an apron to wear during my baking adventures, so having my grandma gift me some my great-grandma wore is beyond special.

I hand washed them last weekend to bake an apple pie wearing one in her honor. You can watch the video HERE.

Honestly, it was emotional thinking about how she wore this same apron and made things for my grandma and her siblings when they were younger, now all in their 70s and beyond.

It brought up a lot of feelings for me. 

One, just the general feeling of homesickness for family and connection. I've been in Brooklyn now five and a half years and I think it's kind of like processing a death. It gets easier, but the sadness never really goes away. Every time I go home, I'm reminded and comforted of what it means to have and be a family. They take care of me and love me. The sacrifices my mom and dad make for me, even at 28, aren't lost on me. 

It also made me think about how easy it can be to forget the generations before us, and that makes me so sad. I don't know much about my great-grandparents on either side and know nothing about my great-great. That's only four generations removed. I am able to be who I am today because of them. I'm sure traits and mannerisms have been passed down to me that I'm not even aware of because I simply don't know. It makes me want to know them more intimately in order to carry on their memory.

Last, it made me think about the own lineage I'd like to continue. I could write multiple posts about my feelings (past and present) about my decision to have or not have children. It's always been a difficult topic for me and my opinions on what's right for myself have shifted over the years. In more recent, I've realized that I do want kids in some capacity, and in this recent re-connection to some of my ancestors, it further solidifies that I want to continue passing down traditions and meaning to future generations. 

Lots of jumbled thoughts in this post, but they're all somewhat interconnected to the idea of keeping memories and traditions going. I think it gives such deep meaning to our lives to carry on purpose outside of just ourselves. x

With much love,

Lauren

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Monday, January 17, 2022

On Moving On


I started therapy in May of last year after a really hard breakup.

They're all hard for different reasons, but I think this one hit in particular because it exposed a lot of patterns of mine that I realized if I didn't fix, I would continue to find myself in similar situations with similar results.

I can objectively look at all four of my relationships and see I wasn't my true self in any of them. There was a semblance of who I was, but a big part of me was always hidden away. Part consciously, part unconsciously. 

At the core of my personality I love to adore and please people. It makes me happy to see them happy, so what was pushing aside my desires every once in awhile going to hurt?

If it made them happy to watch an action movie instead of a retro film, that was ok. It was just compromising

If I chose to hang out all weekend at parties with their friends instead of my preferred one-on-one downtime, that was ok. I was just being a good girlfriend.

If they preferred me in something modern instead of a thrifted vintage look, that was ok. I was just making sure they found me attractive.

I would go months, sometimes years doing this. And a lot of times, I knew I was compromising a little too much. It gets to a point where it's gone on so long that you don't feel like they'll accept you if you aren't that person you've always been offering.

So. I started therapy to work through my "self-esteem problems," as my therapist shared with me, in one of our early sessions. We discussed a lot about why I was afraid to ask for things and what would be the worst case scenario if I did ask for them. 

That my partner would leave. 

Sometimes they did anyways.

But what could my relationships look like in the future if I wasn't afraid anymore that--
a) I was too much 
b) I was asking too much 
c) They were going to leave 

My relationships instead could be:
a) More fulfilling 
b) More freeing
c) More mutual 

Timing for life changes is never really what we expect. I'd been single for a year between my last two relationships, so I thought it would be at least that long this time. I wasn't interested in getting back on a dating app or even just putting myself out there for casual flings that summer. I was really just focused on re-finding myself again and utilizing all the time I'd spent in the relationship to nurture my own passions.

I had reconnected with an old friend from back home who had always somewhat been a missed connection over the last nine years. I met him with resistance to anything romantic, and I put up a wall that he continued to throw grapple hooks over to get up to the top. 

I figured I could use this as a test case of putting into practice what I was learning in therapy. I felt like I didn't really have a lot to lose by being open about what I wanted and what I liked. He knew who I was, so there was no need to impress. And we weren't in a relationship, so if he walked away, it was no harm no foul. I would go back to doing me.

It all came easily. There was no resistance to the things I wanted. They were usually even met with a mutual desire. It felt so freeing to relay my needs for once instead of stuffing them away. It wasn't even just my needs, but my emotions. I'd always been so afraid to express when something made me sad or angry or hurt -- I didn't want the other person to feel that way, too. Instead, I opened up the communication and was surprised when the conversations helped build a more solid, genuine understanding of him (and myself). 

There was a lot of guilt in starting something new not so long after the end of something else. I guess I hold myself to arbitrary "one year" rule because that's what I've determined is the appropriate time to heal and be in mourning to the general public (i.e. social media protocol). Again, leaning on the help of my therapist (shout out to V), we talked through how healing can look different from person to person and there is no appropriate "time period" to wait after a break up. I knew I was ready when I felt ready, and I think part of the reason I was able to move on within a half a year was not because there was a new partner in front of me, but really because I started putting my needs on the table *alongside* my partner's for the first time. 

This last weekend I shared the new relationship on le socials. I wanted to share a small, inimate moment that made me happy after months of hiding things. What should have felt happy just caused a lot of anxiety because of how others might take the post.

"She moved on so fast."
"Jumping to the next one I see."
"Did she ever really even care for that other guy?"
"He's so different from her last boyfriend."

I thought about particular people in my life who might see the post and what they might feel, and there was a lot of guilt alongside that anxiety for what they must think of me. 

I have to remind myself: I am not a bad person for moving on. I am not a bad person for starting something new.

Isn't that what we all want after a breakup? To be healed and forgive and carry on with the lessons that we learned? Why can't I just let myself have happiness and why am I SO concerned with how others perceive me?

I'm still not there yet in living my life freely without the fear of judgement, but it's something I want to work through in the next few months. A big win for me was even sharing at all, because historically I've kept all my partners off my social media. A second big win was not writing a dissertation justifying it to everyone so I can beat them to the punchline. I just shared a moment that made me happy - it can be that simple.

With much love,

Lauren
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Monday, January 3, 2022

Hello Again ❤️


Hi. It's me. 

Another three and a half years have passed since I last wrote here and before that, two years. I never stopped thinking about this space through all of the changes in my own life and the platform trends that come and go on the internet. Recently, something inside me was compelled to come back to this space I started thirteen years ago. It feels like a home that has always stayed the same when everything around me changed.

I was only 16 when I came to this space. My introductory post wrote:

"I've wanted to start a blog for quite sometime now, but have been hesitant on how to, or when to start! I definitely know why I want to start a blog though,that's not problem to figure out. My interest in fashion has grown over the past few years,and is still evolving and changing everyday! I want to track it's progress, along with all that inspires me in my personal style!"

The innocence of this introduction makes me smile. This was before the age of influencers, monetizing, affiliate links, sponsorships, amazon wishlists, Instagram, TikTok...I just wanted to be here, to document my personal style and share what inspired me. 

My blog came with me as I moved through high school and then college, where I graduated with a B.S. in Fashion Merchandising and minor in Fashion Media, and eventually my move to NYC in the summer of 2016.  My posting became more sporadic as new platforms took precedence and my life in New York kept me busy. After quitting my full-time job in social media with nothing lined up in 2017, I had all the time to re-dedicate to my personal work here and dove in again with vigor: a re-name (bye Someone Like You, hello Passinwhimsies.com), redesign, SEO-friendly posts, shopping features, widgets galore. Instead of feeling professional, it all felt commercialized and posting here felt like a chore I dreaded instead of a safe space to come home to. After a few months of trying and a new job opportunity that I took, I quickly fell off again.

That brings us here, to January of 2022. Why come back now after all these years and blogs having been declared "dead" by most of society? They haven't evolved with everything else. Logging back into this platform, all of the graphics and layouts have more or less stayed the same since I was last here in 2009. There are no fancy features to be rolled out or grandiose marketing plans to make this the next hot spot of the internet. It has existed, and will continue to exist, as a simple writing and photo sharing platform. Video be damned.

I miss the simplicity of these times and I guess I'm a glutton for nostalgia. Leave it to TikTok to be the site that didn't drive me towards the trends but away from them. I found myself in 2010s nostalgia-tok, where so many people were sharing what they loved about the internet in the good-ole-days of Blogger, Lookbook, Polyvore and Modcloth. I'd been thinking about these sites for a long time, poking around the graveyards of previous spaces I would spend hours on every day.

Even outside of the nostalgia, I'm kind of just tired of it all. I still work in social media and between the professional and personal work every day, it all feels overwhelming to keep up. I've been churning out content every single day on Instagram, trying to take advantage of "YOUR opportunity to grow is RIGHT NOW!!!!" or whatever growth marketing YouTube video I find myself being sucked into. The optimization of video content has sky rocketed so Instagram can keep up with TikTok, and despite my introversion, I've taken to posting videos consistently in order to 'beat the algorithm.' It works. I gained 2.5k followers on my dying Instagram for the first time in over 2 years. All I ever wanted was 10K, but when I hit it, I thought I would be satisfied. I wasn't, I still needed to keep pumping out content and keep up with the Kardashians of Instagram and the D'amelio's of TikTok. It was stuff I wanted to put out, but just maybe not so much, so soon...

Then last week I dropped my phone in a lake. Long story. It was ruined, and I was left like an addict itching for their next fix to see if anyone had liked my latest post, if my ex's mother had watched my Instagram story, if I finally was starting to see growth on Tiktok after painstakingly posting every day for the last 2 months. Slowly, I've been able to wean myself off of the constant, habitual urge to check my performance of, well, everything. I've gotten to read more than I have in years, bake delicious treats, spend time with my family (fully!), and -- take naps. At first the lack of what I deem "productivity" just about killed me. I was falling behind, ruining my favor in the algorithm and perhaps everyone was going to forget about me?!?!

Fucking bat shit crazy. 

I just want to write again what's on my heart: the things that make me happy and that bother me and not worry about if my hook isn't interesting enough or if the post is too long or if I swear too much. I want to share outfits again without it taking hours to create alt text for my images so they turn up in search or come up with a clever SEO headline. I want to share them because they make me happy, and proud, and just like years ago, I want to see how I change. That's been my favorite thing about whatever this internet presence I've cultivated over the last 13 years has been. That I've gotten to be with my younger self again: experience what she was going through and put myself in her shoes (literally) through what she wore.

I don't know how often I'll be here. Or if I'll come back again. But I know this is the place I always want to come back to when I want to find myself again. So here I am.

With much love,

Lauren

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