We have such a treat in store for you this month! The brilliant Sarirah Hamid joins us on A Simple Path to share her wisdom and thoughts on all things slow living. And on life in general. Read her fascinating insights on self-doubt, embracing gratitude, tea and how to make time work for you instead of against you.
Welcome, Sarirah. Thanks so much for being here.
Can you tell us what you do and how you came to be doing it?
I run a beauty trend storytelling and data analysis business called Pretty Analytics. Most of my days are spent researching trends, working with data and creating content. My background is in computer science but I spent 2 years working in beauty retail buying after graduating so I wanted to create a business that fuelled my passions for data analysis, tech and beauty.
I’m very grateful that this also gives me the flexibility to pursue other projects too. I write a skincare and lifestyle blog, www.prettynotincluded.com, which I started 7 years ago. I take on freelance photography projects from time to time for small brands. Creating styled stock photography is another passion project of mine.
My blog has changed a lot over the last few years, incorporating more of my slow living journey and exploration of nature and gardening. There’s a monthly newsletter called Slow Stories where I pen most of my slow living experience, thoughts and hurdles so far. Visually, I like to experiment with photography and video over on Instagram with a slow, calming and comforting vibe (www.instagram.com/prettynotinc).
If you had one piece of advice or wisdom to pass on to your younger self, what would it be?
This is a difficult question for me to answer because I feel like the person I am today grew from the hardships and mistakes my younger self faced. However, I think I’d advise to block out the noise and be yourself unapologetically because you are worthy. My younger self was very introverted and grew up believing that it was a bad thing. So, I harboured a lot of self-doubt around my personality, opinions and what I was interested in.
Looking back, there were so many cool things – from playing drums to sport – that I wanted to pursue but was afraid of because of that introvert label, and constant worrying about what other people would think. Truth is, everyone’s too concerned with what they are doing to be worried about you. Make the effort to find your tribe. The friends that will appreciate you for who you are. It will make all the difference and you won’t have to try so hard.
What is it about slow living and the simple life that you find appealing?
It makes me feel lighter and better focused. Taking my time with tasks, not being surrounded by clutter or an “It’s not enough” mindset has really helped me deal with my anxiety. The slow living mindset allowed me to hone in on embracing gratitude. Being grateful for the big things and those small, simple daily moments. It manifests into a feeling of being enough which helps me in my work and life. I’m a lot less of a perfectionist in my work now (making it much less stressful) and find great pleasure in pockets of calm, from the rituals of tea making to a walk on the heath.
Whilst the calming, stress-less aspects appealed to me most, I was surprised by how it changed my attitude towards time. I no longer worry about racing against the clock or wishing there were more hours in the day or checking the time against how much I’ve accomplished. Yes, I still have deadlines but my work and play feels much more enjoyable.
How can we counter the pulls of content-sharing and curating images of our lives with the need for being in the moment?
I want to say it’s all about creating balance, but realistically I don’t think that’s always possible, especially if social media or creating digital content is a part of your daily work. Or even if you just love it a lot and want to share content often. More importantly, I think we need to be aware of our changing attitudes towards social content. Being able to step back if we feel burnout approaching, turning away from negativity and picking our online battles wisely. Not every thought, experience or pocket of life needs to be shared online. Your real time experience and the emotion evoked in that moment needs to come first. Consciously choosing to spend time away from the online world helps. When I’m out and about with friends and family or on a walk I avoid using my phone as much as possible.
It’s easy to fall into a habit of scrolling through Instagram or Twitter whenever there’s a second of freedom from a task, like queuing at a checkout or waiting for a train. I deleted the Twitter app and ended up spending more time noticing my surroundings, spotting pretty flowers or cool artwork on walls, chatting with strangers in coffee shops and not being concerned with what everyone else is up to online. That fast-paced delivery of content can sometimes be overwhelming and anxiety-inducing.
At the end of the day, we just need to be conscious about how these things affect us personally and do our best to put our most authentic self forward.
Who inspires you?
My Instagram faves, some of whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in person, are a big inspiration. Barbora (@herinternest) , Sara Tasker (@meandorla) and Lucy (@wanderluceblog) to name but a few. I love how Instagram encourages that give and take of inspiration and there’s a real sense of community. I continue to learn a lot from these ladies and the content they share with the world.
Also, my younger sister (http://suhaylah.tumblr.com) has always been so supportive of my work and the creative projects I want to pursue. Seeing a little into her creative process as an artist and writer keeps me curious and wanting to try new things.
What are your essential homeware items/ things you couldn’t do without?
– A good tea mug. I own more of them than forks, if I’m honest. I drink a lot of tea.
– When the sky is overcast and the light is dull but comforting, I like to sit with my comfy wireless headphones and listen to podcasts. It’s a nice way to rest my eyes from screens.
– Notebooks with square paper. Analogue creative processes feel comforting but I also find I come up with my best ideas when I embrace pen to paper.
– Fluffy socks. One of the perks of working from home most of the time is getting to wear cosy socks all day.
– Also, can’t forget a good square cushion. Sometimes I like to think and sort through ideas in my head whilst lying on the floor.
What would you like to be doing in 10 years’ time?
Living away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I hope I’ll be able to call myself a mother and prolific vegetable grower by then, with my business running strong. I hope that writing will be a big part of my daily work regardless of whether it manifests itself as fiction, poetry or nonfiction. I’d like there to still be space to navigate free creative play just for the fun of it.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?
Probably quitting a secure job with people I loved to work with in the pursuit of something new and uncertain. I didn’t have a plan as such at the time but went with my gut feeling. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve done much that would be considered wild or ‘out there’. However, as someone who harboured a lot of self-doubt and lack of self-confidence in the past, it felt like a bold move to take a chance on myself.