It has been exactly two months since I first moved to Brussels from London, and the first time that I have written any original content for this website. Last week’s post on bold lipsticks was actually a half-written draft that I had started before the New Year and forced myself to complete last week for fear of this site being yet another failed attempt to maintain my own website. Some of you will know that I started my very first blog, “Coleridge and Chanel”, all the way back in 2010 or so as a means of combining my love for literature and fashion (I think the tagline was something like “life, fashion, literature.” Cute.) Three more blogs were launched after that, then stopped, and I really didn’t want AFIA AND JAY to be the fifth “forgotten” one.
The first half of this four-month period has probably been one of the most stressful times of my life. Until just 10 days ago (and for the first time since starting my job last January), I was working upwards of 12 hour days every day. Some of those days were here, in Brussels, but many were back home – where I’d be told at a moment’s notice to pack a bag and get on a train to the London office for 9.30am the next morning. Weekends were not off limits too. All of this meant that the “exciting” elements of living in a new city were lost, along with the idea of “work-life balance”. I couldn’t visit other cities in Brussels and neighbouring countries as I’d hoped. It was near impossible to make friends: my office consists of myself, an associate, and our secretary, and external social events hosted by other secondees were always missed because I was working late. Despite priding myself on being a fiercely strong individual, there were lots of tears – both inside and outside of the workplace – as a result of being physically, mentally and emotionally drained. My unpredictable hours and location meant that I couldn’t invite friends and family to visit, and a newly-formed relationship that I mistakenly made my first priority during the weekends spent back in London eventually fell through. In retrospect he was probably just an Ashanti demon, but blaming my job makes it a bit easier to process. And while I am all for discussing difficult topics and sharing one’s deeply personal (first world) struggles in the name of good copy, I will leave it there.
The one space upon which I didn’t allow my work to encroach during that busy period was my flat. In the brief moments that I was able to enjoy some free time, my first instinct was to lounge about indoors rather than don my Dora the Explorer cap and try to conquer Belgium and the EU. I would cook meals which reminded me of home, or play my guitar – without which I probably would have gone slightly insane – or dance to really loud afrobeats (as you do – my neighbours 99% hate me, I’m sure of it). That said, putting this outfit together was, to some degree, a way of the work place creeping up on my place of rest – but in a positive way. I had originally purchased these striped trousers as an addition to my work wardrobe, but found that the slouchy, light fabric coupled with the soft linen of this shirt from Zara, which I actually do wear from nine to “five”, lent itself better to my living space. As ever, leave it to my clothes to successfully bridge the gap between the professional and the personal. Work-life balance = achieved. Kind of.
Striped trousers, Banana Republic. Striped shirt, Zara. White lace bralet, Ann Summers. Trainers, Adidas.