Hey. What’s Up. Hello. Do you remember me?
I know the blog posts haven’t been super frequent this past year, but I wanted to check in, give a bit of a recap of the highs and lows of last year, and talk about my new focus for 2022. Plus, I’ve been in COVID quarantine for the past six days, and while I still feel super sick, I’m feeling a bit restless and wanted to create some kind of content for you all.
So: let’s get honest here, and talk about the highs and lows of 2021 and what my plans are for this platform for 2022.
2021: The Highs
2021 is a year that I’ll never forget. It was a challenging year, but it was also a year that I could make a ton of incredible things happen. I hope you can also take some time to reflect and write down some of the magical moments of 2021 at home. As someone who lives with depression and anxiety, it’s easy for me to be hard on myself, but it really puts things into perspective when I sit down and think of all the good things that happened in the past year.
Some of the highs of 2021 include:
- Moving across the country and calling Los Angeles home. You guys: I have only ever lived in the Mid-Atlantic my entire life. Born in Baltimore, raised in the Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C., and had a few brief stints in Philly, NYC, Richmond, VA, and Charlottesville, VA. But in 2020, I was itching for a change and made plans to move to a city that I’ve always wanted to live in.
Picking up and moving across the country was kind of scary, but I’m so glad I did it. L.A. has been incredible, and the big move forced me to get out of my comfort zone and make new friends, try new things, and foster new relationships. Do I get homesick from time to time? Absolutely — I’m human. But I love California living, and it’s been exciting to plant new roots on the West Coast.
- Writing a book. I submitted a book proposal at the end of 2020 to a publisher, and I got word that I got the green light in December of that year. I started writing my book in January 2021 and after many months of drafts, writer’s block, revisions, and perseverance, I put the finishing touches on the manuscript and art direction in November.
Writing a book was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my career, but man — once I saw the final mock-up and galley of the book, I knew it was worth it. My book is coming out in Summer 2022, and I cannot wait to share more with you all. As soon as there’s a preorder link for it, I’ll share! I still cannot believe that I’ll be able to call myself a published author in 2022.
- Took a three-week cross-country road trip. When I moved this spring, I had the option to either ship my car to L.A. or drive it across the country. Since T and I are both self-employed and can work from anywhere, we both knew that we wanted to drive my car across the country and see parts of the U.S. we’ve never gotten to travel to before!
Some of the highlights of the trip for me included seeing Marfa, Texas (a tiny art town in the middle of nowhere!), visiting White Sands National Park in New Mexico, and relaxing amongst the red rocks in Sedona, Arizona. Moving cross-country was expensive and I wasn’t able to do that much international travel as a result (and honestly, I wasn’t comfortable with flying again until July), but it was a treat to see how beautiful and diverse the Unites States is.
- Finding my extrovert energy again. In those blissful months in between getting the vaccine and the omicron variant, I was amazed to find myself even more extroverted than ever. I don’t know whether it’s because it’s my personality or if it’s the climate of L.A., but I found myself striking up so many conversations with total strangers, befriending people in the most random places, and feeling confident enough to talk to pretty much anyone.
Lockdown was tough for me as an extrovert, and admittedly, sometimes my anxiety made me feel awkward in social situations once things started opening back up. But I’m glad that with the help of therapy (and medication, to be honest), I was able to shut down those feelings of self-doubt and get back to feeling like my regular, outgoing self again.
2021: The Lows
I don’t want to dwell on the lows, but I also want to be transparent in this post. 2021 wasn’t easy for me, and I had a tough time with my mental health.
My depression hit new lows, and I had to adjust my antidepressant dosage. I fell into several depressive episodes for weeks at a time, and there were a few periods where I wouldn’t leave my apartment for days. I also struggled with body image a bit after post-COVID weight gain, but this is something I’m working on every day.
Business-wise, it was really hard for me to write a book, manage my mental health, move cross-country and stay consistent with blogging, so I didn’t produce as much content as I wanted to on my blog and social channels. However, instead of beating myself up, I’m trying to give myself a bit of grace, and come up with a game plan to make 2022 my most consistent year of content creation yet.
2022: What’s Next for Alicia Tenise
I touched on this in my Instagram Stories this week, but there are some changes coming up with the blog in 2022. Nothing major, but after reviewing my reach for the past year and taking social media trends into consideration, it’s time to make some adjustments with my content creation schedule.
- Spending less time on Instagram. First and foremost, I’m thankful that Instagram is a free platform. With it, I’ve been able to connect with tens of thousands of people over the years. However, I understand that since it’s a free platform, they have the right to run ads and set their own algorithms. My reach has been pretty abysmal this past year, and my content isn’t being shown to a lot of my followers, which is pretty frustrating as a creator.
I’ve unintentionally prioritized Instagram over the years, but I don’t think that Instagram has prioritized its creators. I really didn’t want to put that much effort into the app — after all, I started my blog ten years ago before IG was even a thing, but Instagram is the place where I get the most brand discovery and sponsored post placements. Another reason I want to spend some time away from the ‘gram? Truthfully, Instagram has been pretty detrimental for my mental health, and I don’t always enjoy my time on it. I’ve had to mute dozens of my colleagues (temporarily!) over the years to stop comparing myself to them and with my body image issues, sometimes the app just makes me feel bad about myself.
Don’t worry; I’m not quitting Instagram cold turkey. I still appreciate that I can connect with a good chunk of you on IG, and I never want to take that for granted. However, it’s in my best interest to invest my time in other platforms and get back to nurturing the one thing that’s been a constant for the past ten years: this website.
- Getting consistent with blogging. Hi, I do like to write — after all, I wrote a whole book, for heaven’s sake! Admittedly, I’ve neglected this blog a bit, but I want to get back in the swing of things. I’ll have two blog posts a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the future. Ideally, I’d like to get up to three posts a week, but I want to start with a more manageable goal to get the consistency back up.
- More video creation. Fellow creators: whether you like it or not, the industry is shifting towards video. With the dominance of TikTok and Instagram making Reels a priority, it’s clear that the future is video.
I started this blog because I liked writing and photography, so video has been outside my comfort zone for a while. However, if I want to start gaining a new audience, this is what I’ve gotta do. I’ve gotten better over the past year with editing short-form videos, and I can produce them quickly now. I’m still hoping to learn more about transitions, editing and storyboarding in 2022, but luckily L.A. is the perfect place to get into video production.
Don’t worry: if video isn’t your thing, I’ll still have blog and Instagram content. However, you can give me a follow on TikTok and YouTube if you’re also into video content!
What were your highs and lows of 2021? Any thoughts on the new content plan for the blog? Let me know in the comments below!
Photos by Tom McGovern