My 30th birthday is fast approaching (March 14th!) and it’s kind of snuck up on me. The last three years of my life have been a whirlwind of major work and personal moments, from publishing my books to getting married, and then emigrating to another country. So, it was only as we entered 2017 that I realized this year signals the start of a new decade for me. As with any milestone birthday I’ve started to reflect upon what’s next, so I took the last few weeks to think back over my twenties – what went great, what didn’t go so well and how I hope to grow and improve in the next decade.
Here’s the thing. Over the past month I’ve realized that I’ve never felt better than right here and now: I’m confident in who I am; I’m finally recognizing it’s OK to be proud of my achievements; I’m more aware than ever of my shortcomings and what I can do to be a better person – both for myself and those in my life; and I’m comfortable in the state of my relationships with my loved ones. Yet, it’s not always been that way. I think because Bright.Bazaar as a ‘brand’ has always been so joyous, positive and, well, bright I’ve often shied away from sharing some of the darker moments and realities I’ve faced over almost a decade of blogging. I’ve touched on my experiences with homophobia but I decided against sharing some of my other bumps in the road. Now that I’m in a stronger place, I feel comfortable to share some of the more personal moments from the twenties era (that sounds very ‘popstar’ but whatever, humor me?!) and what I’ve learned from this period of my life.
Having started Bright.Bazaar eight years ago in March 2009 I’ve spent a large part of my twenties, and indeed the last decade of my life, blogging. In some ways I feel as though I grew up online. I learnt the hard lessons of life and friendship, who to trust, who not to trust, how to navigate business and so much more; and it all happened right here in this online space. I’ve faced some personal hardships and challenges, along with experiencing some incredible adventures and opportunities. I’ve certainly worn a lot of things and decorated rooms in ways I wouldn’t even consider now! I’ve trusted people when I shouldn’t have, and on the flip side I’ve on occasion since been overly cautious as a result. Still, there are no regrets because all of this is just part of life: evolution. The fabric of my life has grown and evolved over the years, and naturally my blog has, too. Just like any career, over the period of ten years a lot changes. Without meaning to, I realized that throughout the month of February I had been reflecting on the highs and lows of the last decade, as well as the hopes and aspirations I have for the next decade, both personally and professionally. I’m sharing my thoughts – warts and all (yikes!) – from this period of reflection below. Let’s do this!
Some of the best bits from my twenties
• I almost wrote ‘meeting my now husband’ until I realized that we met aged 19 and so that happened in the previous decade to this. Yikes, now I feel old! We will have been together eleven years this April. Kinda crazy! I’m grateful for him every.single.day. I know for sure that my heartmate and I did marry during this decade – in June 2014 – and that was without a doubt the best day of my twenties. We were fortunate to do so surrounded by loving and supportive family and friends.
• When gay marriage became legally recognized in the UK it was an incredible moment. My hope is that the next decade sees a furthering of gay rights in countries around the world, especially those where members of the LGBTQ community face grave consequences and lack even the most basic of human rights. There’s much work still to do, and organizations like HRC and Tie The Knot are great if you are looking for ways to get involved with supporting gay rights.
• The Supreme Court ruling that recognized gay marriage in America was another incredible and moving day. Aside from the obvious huge step forward for LGBTQ rights, it also meant that our legal marriage in the UK was now recognized in the USA and so it made the potential for moving to America in the future a more achievable possibility.
• Moving to New York City in 2015 and subsequently getting our green cards in 2016 was a huge moment for us. We finally had the security we had longed for and didn’t have to worry about not being able to stay living in the country we loved living and working in. We had been putting down roots, setting up a new life and making business and personal connections in America, so before we had our Green Cards it felt like being in limbo as there was a ticking clock on how long we could stay. We were proud that we managed to secure both the original visas and then our green cards off the back of the success of Bright.Bazaar. I am so grateful to all the people I’ve worked with over the years who supported the application and process. It made all the intense workloads and lack of sleep over the years worthwhile! The day we opened the mail and held our Green Cards in our hands for the first time was beyond surreal. We’d finally found and secured our places in our new home. I can’t put into words how amazing it felt for us both. We still pinch ourselves daily at how fortunate we feel.
• Seeing my mum retire and enjoy her retirement has been so lovely. She worked so hard to provide and care for my brother and I as a single mum, and she deserves every bit of this time for her.
• Working at the BBC was an ambition I’d held since a young age. I was originally offered an unpaid internship for a month while I was studying for my finals in the second year of University. So I said goodbye to my housemates, my boyfriend and took myself (and my books) off to London to spend my days working at BBC Television Centre in London. It was a 2.5hr commute each way and then I worked on my university papers until the early hours of the morning. It was a hustle and I can genuinely say that I loved every second of it. This was what I had dreamed of and I had the opportunity of a lifetime. It paid off because the programme I was working on hired me after my one month unpaid internship finished and I ended up moving over to work on live Saturday night TV shows in BBC Entertainment.Not only did I meet one of my now best friends (Rachie, pictured above) but I also learnt so much and it was a job that taught me valuable skills and lessons for dealing with professional life. I made amazing memories working in live television that I hope never to forget. For my UK readers, it also meant I got a Blue Peter badge! I know – amazing! One of my favorite memories was escorting Rhianna just as she was blowing up with her song Umbrella. She had flown into the UK just to record a performance on the show and then was flying back to America. I had to walk her from her trailer to the set, and she was sweet to me. I remember here thinking it was so random that there were animals roaming around the TV studio (non-British readers Google ‘Blue Peter animals’ and all will make sense!). I also held the door open for Madonna (clang!) and she walked through without saying Thank You.
• Seeing friends get married to the loves of their lives have offered many moving and happy days throughout the latter part of this past decade.
• I started Bright.Bazaar in 2009 from my rented bedroom and I certainly didn’t think it would lead me down the path that it has. I’ve gone on to publish two books, which have been translated and published in eleven languages around the world; I’ve fronted TV appearances; grown my following to over 2.5 million followers across my networks and collaborated with huge global brands such as Coca-Cola, Land Rover, Toyota, Google, Starbucks, Warner Brothers, HP, Valspar and so many more. I’m so grateful for the amazing opportunities the blog has led to.
• Becoming an uncle to my niece Bea and my nephew Callum. Seeing my brother become a dad has been so lovely to watch.
• Graduating university with my 2:1 degree in Journalism, Film and Media.
• Over-coming, being able to control my anxiety (more on that in the next section).
• Fronting design makeover segments on Good Morning America were incredible career highlights, as was my American book tour with West Elm and Jonathan Adler.
• Being able to travel to incredible countries such as Mauritius, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Spain, Mexico and many others. It was this that led to my love of photography and this is a skill I hope to continue to build on throughout my thirties.
• Watching my heartmate run (and totally boss) his running. I am so proud of him and everything he continues to achieve.
• Having the cover for my second book revealed on a huge screen in Times Square was super exciting, too!
• Seeing positive coverage for my work in publications I admire across America, Europe, Australia, Brazil, Asia and beyond has helped keep the fire in my belly for my work.
• Meeting incredible individuals and friends across the world who I met through Bright.Bazaar.
• As a child, I swam competitively but in my late teens I stopped and didn’t get back into exercise again until a few years ago. Fitness and working out are now a huge part of my daily routine and it’s been such a positive change to my life in the latter part of my twenties.
• On the subject of routine and wellness, a regular morning routine that I started just recently has been so incredibly beneficial to my happiness and productivity. I love it!
• Designing the interior of my first NYC brownstone apartment and working on the space in my second apartment. Design will always be my first and true love. It’s the foundation of Bright.Bazaar and my aim is to work on more design projects going forward.
• Living in London during the 2012 Olympic Games was incredible. As Londoners, we were fed horror stories for years leading up to the Games and were actively encouraged to rent out homes and leave the city during the event. Yet, when the Games came London was the quietest it has ever been due to so many people heeding that advice and/or working from home. Not only was the city so much quieter, but we could get tickets to see some incredible sporting moments. One highlight was watching a night session of beach volleyball in an outside stadium temporarily erected on Horse Guard’s Parade. We made friends with strangers over drinks, cheered on the teams with gusto and watched the sunset over the London skyline – it was just one of those magical evenings with a feeling of sporting camaraderie that I hope never to forget.
• There have been many more highlights and amazing moments shared with loved ones, from amazing concerts to quiet walks and talks with friends, to cheering on runners in marathons and the joy of seeing the love of my life achieve so many incredible personal and career goals.
Sone of the not-so-great bits of my twenties
• During my final year of university, I felt immense pressure to land a big, high-profile graduate scheme – and I did. But it was a mistake. I left my role at the BBC, which I had been working in and loving since my second year at university, to start on a graduate program at an advertising agency that processed analytics for huge global brands. I made the decision simply because I felt it was what I should be doing: choosing the ‘sensible’ option that offered more job security and better pay, especially as I graduated at the height of the recession. I had attended a highly academic school that didn’t value arts subjects and my family were traditionalists who (although obviously only wanting the best for me) encouraged me down a more traditional path. The role was completely wrong for me and, truth be told, I shouldn’t have been given such an analytical and numbers-heavy role because it wasn’t right for my creative skillset. I felt creatively and professionally suffocated; I worried that my career was starting on a trajectory that was in the opposite direction to what I had spent my years at university working hard to achieve. I handed in my notice after three months and it knocked my confidence completely.
My peers from university were seemingly either working their dream jobs straight out of school, or were traveling the world on gap years having the time of their lives. I was unemployed and living back at home. It was a tough time because I had worked in gainful employment from the moment I was legally able to do so. I had bought and insured my first car with my own money. I worked throughout university to help pay for my rent and living costs. I was always independent and driven, so to be in that situation not long after graduating hit me like a truck: it was not how I expected my post-uni life to be at all. It was at this point that I started Bright.Bazaar as my creative outlet. I ended up landing two great corporate communications jobs which I worked in for over three and a half years before I went full-time with Bright.Bazaar.
This period taught me that when life doesn’t go to plan it’s so important to look beyond the now and focus on pin-pointing actions that took you down the wrong path, and, importantly, those new goals for the future so that you can positively move forward. This is what helped me to eventually make a future for myself that was more in-line with how I had hoped to live and work back in 2010.
• The knockback of throwing my career off course straight out of university led to a period of anxiety that continued even after I found my career footing again. In fact, it continued for many years even as Bright.Bazaar was growing and proving to become a successful blog and business. The anxiety manifested in the form of panic attacks and at their worst point I was finding it difficult to put myself in the most basic of everyday situations – public transportation was an absolute no-no, even sitting in the chair at the barbers felt claustrophobic to me. As someone who had always been out-going, go-getting and confident it was very frustrating to feel so confined by something I had no control over. From the outside, it looked like everything was going great: I still held a well-paid communications job in London, Bright.Bazaar was flourishing and growing by the day and I was happily in love with my then boyfriend (now hubby!). Yet, inside I was struggling everyday with simply getting myself into the office.
I was nervous to say anything publically because I didn’t want to harm my career or the development of my blog. I think that says a whole lot about how society views mental health but that’s a whole separate blog post. Anyhow, the turning point came when I was speaking on a panel at a design conference in London. I had an epic panic attack while on stage and it was one of the worst 45 minutes I’ve ever experienced. Seeing the concerned looks on the faces of my friends in the audience was the catalyst I needed to seek help to bring the anxiety under control. It was a long road and I am proud to say that in the last two years I’ve been almost entirely panic attack free. I’m proud to think that I’ve managed to take myself from the point of not being able to sit in a barber’s chair or get on a train, to moving to and living and thriving in NYC which is one of the world’s busiest cities. Especially when I once had an awful panic attack in a H&M Store (the glamour) in this very city and I wanted to get out the city and never, ever travel again. Now, I fly around the world alone for business without a second thought and I give confident presentations to clients and large conferences. These are things that back then I would have never in a million years thought I’d be able to do again. Knowing that I overcame such a huge challenge that gives me the strength to fight other battles I face in life.
• I’ve written before about the very close relationship I have with my dear gran. In the last decade she’s faced several health scares and seeing someone I love so dearly in a fragile state has been nothing short of gut-wrenching. However, she has proven herself to be a fighter and has always bounced back with resilience, which continues to give me so much inspiration. I love her and admire her more than I can put into words.
• Three years ago we tried to welcome a puppy into our lives. She lived with us for just two days before we had to give her back to her breeder because I had a severe allergic reaction. For my heartmate and I who had dreamed of growing our little family of two into three with a dog it was so, so hard. We had even referenced getting a dog in our marriage vows that we wrote to one another just a few months previous. We were devastated. Since we’ve been living in NYC we’ve been socializing with lots of dogs and so far, there have been no allergic reactions so we still holding onto the hope that our doggie dream will one day come true.
• One dark November night we were driving home from a huge photoshoot on the motorway when the road was being narrowed from three lanes to one, and the traffic was slowing to merge together. The driver behind us wasn’t paying attention and went into the back of us at 60MPH – our entire car was thrown off the road and was written off at the scene. Luckily, we both came out with just whiplash and shock but it was a narrow escape.
• I think one of the most frustrating things for both my heartmate and I during our twenties was not feeling settled in where we lived. We moved a lot due to many factors, including that my heartmate’s graduate scheme meant a lot of different placements across the country, plus we temporarily left London due to my anxiety. Something inside of us was finding it hard to connect to where we were living. In the eighteen months we’ve lived in New York City both of us can’t believe how happy, settled, content and in love with our city and home we are. It’s been a long time coming and I think because the path here was not always plain-sailing it has made the pleasure of loving where we are now all the sweeter.
• Prior to our 2015 move to NYC, we nearly moved to America on two previous occasions. The first time the barrier to our entry was America not recognizing a civil partnership between two men as a legal union, meaning as my spouse Toby would not receive a visa. The second time was in 2014 when I was offered a dream role at a company in NYC only to have it fall through a week later when the company pulled funding for the new position. At the time I had been toying with the idea of scaling back Bright.Bazaar and taking everything I had learned in working on my business to a big corporate company. It felt like everything had fallen into place when the offer came through. We had started looking at apartments and even told family we were moving, so it was a huge personal setback for us when it unexpectedly fell through. Still, we picked ourselves up and it all worked out for the best. I continued with Bright.Bazaar and the brand continued to grow and grow, leading to us moving to America on our own terms on the back of my work with Bright.Bazaar. This was a time when I referred to what I learned from my post-university career woes to keep positive in the light of a life setback.
Hopes for my thirties
• Although I did some charity work in my twenties I can do more. One of the ambitions I have for a charitable arm to Bright.Bazaar is to launch a project or initiative that harnesses the positive power of color in communities.
• I hope to slow down. Life has moved at a million miles an hour and while I’ve always been a doer, I do want to take a slightly slower pace so that I can soak up, appreciate and recognize amazing experiences as they are happening.
• I’ve wanted to buy a house since the day I graduated but with the recession and moving to a new country it was off the cards for most of my twenties. It’s a priority for my heartmate and I to make it happen in our thirties.
• I touched on this earlier but we both would love to welcome a dog into our little family.
• I’m keen to continue growing creatively. One of the best things about starting the blog was that it led me to discover a creative endeavor I was good at: photography. Alongside designing real rooms, photography is the side of my business and work that I enjoy the most. In the past six months I’ve been slowly teaching myself how to take better drone photographs and videos. My next step is to go to drone school and get my pilot license so I can make commercial videos. Exciting!
• I would like to go back to school and build on my interior design skills with the view to potentially starting my own interior design firm.
• Reading is a part of my life now but I would like to do more of it. A book a month, at least.
• Having worked almost non-stop throughout my twenties and often feeling guilty at even taking a morning off work, I now see that it’s not healthy to live like that. Hobbies and relaxation time away from work are so important and I’d like take painting classes to have a regular time out. Painting is that has nothing to do with my creative business or work but it’s a skill and hobby that I’d like to study so I’m switching off in a way that still feels productive!
• I used to spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking. Then, when my business took off and I was self-employed I had less regular hours. Anytime I wasn’t working I felt guilty – yes, even if it was to cook meals! – so over the years I cooked less and less. Moving to NYC with relatively affordable restaurants on the doorstep has made it so tempting to eat out/order in a lot. In Manhattan groceries are often more expensive than bought meals (yes, really), but I miss home cooking. Our new apartment has a full-size kitchen and I’ve been cooking more since we moved in September last year. I’d love to work with a nutritionist to improve my diet so that it marries with my exercise routine.
• Overall, I want to harness the positive state of mind I’m now in so that I keep an open mind to all opportunities and experiences. I never would have thought what I am doing now would share my life a decade ago, so who knows what’s next. I’m pumped for it!
Wow l really enjoyed reading this article. You have been so open and honest in sharing the highs and lows you have experienced over the last decade.
Life in New York certainly sounds exciting l wish you both the very best of British luck with your lives and hope you continue to grab life with both hands.
Best wishes to you both l look forward to continuing to read your blog posts and tweets in the future.
@Steven – Thank you very much for your kind comment and warm support, it really does mean a lot. Here’s to the next 30!
Love this! Have you been doing the Miracle Morning?!
@Lewis – Thank you! I hadn’t heard of Hal’s book but I just Googled it and it sounds amazing. I’m going to order it!
I’m so happy that you shared a little bit of your past and that you’ve come such a long way and are happy with your current life 🙂 I’m sure your 30s will be just as wonderful as your 20s have been and hopefully with less hardships. I turned 30 back in January so I feel like I’m in a similar place (although I haven’t accomplished nearly as much as you have). I’m still growing and learning about myself every day and I hope I can find my way in this decade. As for adopting a dog, there’s a couple of breads that are Hypo-allergenic and they come in all sizes (depending on if you want a smaller or bigger breed). I spent most of my life with dogs (a Rottweiler from 6 to 15 and chocolate labs from 16 to now). Dogs bring such happiness to a home. I lost my 14 and half year old lab last week (she was extremely old for her breed and her organs were shutting down). It broke my heart to make the decision to prevent her suffering longer than necessary. We had adopted her when I was 16 and she was the cutest and tiniest ball of brown fluff you had ever seen. She grew up to bring so much love to myself and my family. Saying goodbye was the hardest thing but you know when you adopt a puppy that it will not live as long as you and you hope it’ll be the longest time like I had with my Cassis. But you love them anyway, for the rest of your life. If you do adopt a puppy, I guarantee that it will make you and your heartmate, the happiest men alive. Some people will disagree and that’s their prerogative but I think dogs are like children in a way. They certainly love you just as much 🙂 All the best for your 30s, you’ll do great things!
@Caroline – Thank you for your lovely and thoughtful comment. I completely agree with you that animals are like children and I’m so sorry to hear your lab passed last week, it must be utterly heartbreaking. I’m sending a big hug to you. x
Thanks for sharing all your insights. Life only gets better!!
@Ellen – Cheers to that! Here’s to the next 30!
You are an inspiration! <3
@Jessica – So lovely of you to say, thank you. x
Will, I’m very happy for you that you now feel confident enough to share so many private highs and lows! And you really have packed a lot of living in your measly 30 years. 😀
Personally I’ve come to think that if ´we feel confident enough to put our “true selves” out there, without worrying about what others might say or think of us … then there is no stopping us!
@Alexandra – Thanks for the lovely comment. I agree with you, it’s only now that I have processed all the highs and lows of the last decade that I feel completely at ease with opening up – it’s very empowering! Hope you are having a lovely week. 🙂
Will, I can’t even remember reading a whole blog post from top to bottom for a very long time. Everything is quite hasty and impersonal these days and the blogging world is vastly changing. So thank you very much for your words, the good and the bad, it’s all you and what makes you. I have to say that I dearly miss our cuddles and meetings and that somewhere along the way we lost each other out of sight. But I’ve never lost you out of my heart. I wish you a happy 30th birthday and that all your dreams, hopes and wishes may come true and lots of love and laughter along the way XXX
@Yvonne – I smiled so much reading your sweet comment, Yvonne, thank you for taking the time to leave such sincere and warm words. I miss our chats and hugs, too, and hope we’ll get to have tea and cake together again one day soon. Many hugs to you and all the best with the move into the new house! xx
Will, first of all, “Happy Birthday!” Second, I am so happy that you are feeling so much more secure in yourself that you could write a post like this. You will be surprised at how much easier life is once you know who you are and what you want. I can’t wait to see what you accomplish in the future. Say hello to your Mum and Gran for me.
@Libbynan – Thanks for the early birthday wishes! I agree, as I’ve found my feet in recent years I’ve found it so much easier to be true to who I am.
Oh Will, what an incredible post! Its so wonderful to reflect on everything that has happened over the course of a decade – the good and the less so – and see just how far you’ve come. I’m so happy to have shared in some of those significant moments with you and hope to share many more with you both in the years to come. Sending you all the love in the world xxx
@Kate – Thank you so much, lovely. So grateful that the blog led to us becoming friends and sharing so many adventures together. Loads of love xxx
Thank you for your article! I also graduated in the height of the recession, turned 30 a few weeks ago, have been with my husband since I was 19 and am moving from the UK to Canada soon to find a place to call home (I’ve moved 10 times in the past 11 years!) The similarities are uncanny. The only difference is I never followed my creative dreams due to a lack of confidence and instead went down a more sensible career path (albeit marketing but it’s not the same as the creative industries I so craved). You have given me hope that with hard work and passion I could follow my heart rather than my head.
I am happier now than I ever have been but my achievements fall short of this. I’ve also neglected my health and fitness which I know would make things so much better! A million times thank you for kick-starting the fire inside me again – I feel like in some way I’ve found a kindred spirit! <3
Wishing you a happy 30th – may it be your best decade yet! You are so incredibly talented and a real inspiration.
P.s. now can we just be best mates already! 😉
@Amy – Goodness me, that’s a line up of similarities right there! Congrats on your upcoming move to Canada – how exciting! Glad you found the most inspirational and thank you for taking time to leave such lovely well wishes for my 30s! 🙂
Will… thank you sooooo much for being so open! Happy 30th birthday! I should have known your birthday was in March.;) I have been following you on Instagram for about a year now and your posts always brighten my day. I fully support your dream of going back to school and starting your own interior design firm. You have such a good eye and you’ve inspired me and so many people out there! Just. Do. It. (I am also heading back to school next year.)
Also, yay to reading more! I’ve been doing the same since last year and it’s been incredible! What do you like reading? Let me know if you need any recommendations!:)
Your positive outlook is infectious. Keep being YOU!
P.S. I really want to plan a trip to New York this year. Maybe we can meet up!:)
@Donna – Thank YOU for being so receptive to my story! Thank you for following me on Instagram and supporting my work. I love reading thrillers; The Swimmer is my favorite. What books do you love? 🙂
Oh and yes to home cooking and painting!:)
Wow Will! Thankyou for sharing, and congratulations on everything you’ve achieved. Your photographs are truly incredible and your work ethic and thirst for creativity is inspiring. Happy Birthday for next week, and hire me to work for you please! HaHa
@Alex – Really kind of you to say, thank you! Appreciate your support!
Will!! Your such an inspiration for me! I have moved from Belfast, Northern Ireland to London and im ready to start the next part of my life. I’ve always loved fashion and interiors so buying seems to be the nature job to pursue. Just soo nervous as I want to make the right choice!
But your article has made me excited for my future careere, life and love.
Would love some hints and tips!!
@James – Thank you! I’m glad you found the post inspirational and all the best with your next step. Remember to stay focused on what it is you want in the long term vs. just the short term. 🙂
Such an inspiring story! So happy for you!
@Murs – Thank you so much! Always smile when you pop up on Instagram! 🙂
It’s the second time I see your photos of New York and every time I have the same reaction, I wish he sold his photos as prints. So you could also add that to your career plans. They would look good … maybe in my stairwell, or my hallway. I’m ig_louly on instagram btw. Told you I didn’t like colours and I’ve been following you for a long time, it was here on your blog. I guess I just don’t like bright colours, I still like toned down colours. I like blue in any form. Anyway, I don’t know if I should read this, seems you already have accomplished more than in my whole lifetime, and I’m much older. Haha! Maybe I should write it down too, what I’ve done, I might be surprised. I have been published in a UK magazine specialized in 3D digital art. Here you go, I feel better already lol It was a “making of” of an image I had done while being treated for cancer. Even better! Haha! The editor had found me in an online gallery. Sorry felt like I had to find what I had accomplished after reading all of your accomplishments 🙂 Bonne continuation! Happy 30th and the best coming 30 years!
@Louise – Don’t apologize, it’s lovely to read a small part of your personal story, too. Congrats on your achievements and thank you for the kind words about my photographs, too.
Inspiring post! Now in my mid-twenties, I am still trying to figure out what I want to do, what I can do, and if I am happy doing what I am doing now. It’s a never-ending journey of self-discovery, but that’s what I think my 20’s are for! Just wanted to share what a friend of mine recently posted on her Instagram that resonated with me greatly:
The reality is that most things don’t go the way you want them to, and that learning it’s okay is half the battle. Sometimes just being able to create one thing, look back at it, and be proud of what you could do is enough.
@Mike – I LOVE the quote you shared from your friend. Thank you for sharing it with me and all the best with finding the right path for you. You’ll get there!
happy birthday! I really enjoyed hearing your story and am so impressed what what you have accomplished in your twenties. I too had panic attacks in my twenties, not to the extent of yours but still very scary. After my twenties I didn’t have them anymore. I’m looking forward to seeing where the next decade takes you, you should be so proud of yourself!
@Leanne – Thank you for all your support of my work, both here and on Instagram, it really does mean a lot. Glad you overcame your anxiety, too. YEAH!
I loved reading this post Will! I appreciate you being so open and having the courage to share the ups and the downs…not easy to do at all. I’m so glad that you and Toby have found yourselves feeling at home in NYC. And when you start your design firm, can I please be your intern? 🙂 xoxo
@Jackie – That would be so much fun! Thanks for your support and friendship, too. See you in a few weeks! xo
We are so happy to know you 🙂
@Jeff – The feeling is so mutual. Love you guys!
You’re such a gem Will 😀 Always a pleasure to follow you and grow old with you all these years!
Wish you all the best in your 30ies :* :*
@Eleni – Thank you so much, lovely. It’s been such a pleasure to follow you, too! x
I’ve been wanting to write you a personal note for days, Will and just saying how much I love the way you both go, see your work that is beyond excellent and just send you a virtual hug. One day, it will be a real one again. xo
@Gudy – I really hope so too, Gudy! Love following along with your incredible work and grateful for your support of my endeavours as well. Hugs to Barcelona x
I absolutely LOVED reading this Will! I am constantly inspired by your work and it was so nice to have an insight into your twenties, thank you for sharing it with me. It was amazing to hear about your highlights, so many incredible achievements and movements, but it was interesting to hear the lows too. You picked yourself up and worked through them and that is so amazing to see, especially when it comes to anxiety. Happy birthday for next week, hope you have a lovely time celebrating! Immy x
@Immy – Thanks for your kind and supportive words! They mean so much! 🙂
Will! Happiest of birthdays to you, and I am so excited to see all of the amazing things life has in store for you guys in the next decade!
@Jenn – Thank you! So excited to see what our 30s bring! 🙂
Congratulations Will! Wishing you an early Happy birthday! Its kinda crazy that you only started Bright Bazaar in 2009. You have grown so much since and you should definitely be proud of your achievements. It has an absolute pleasure getting to know you in your twenties. You let your internet fame get to your head and you always so passionate about good design and colour! It is an absolute honour to be able to call you my friend and I can’t wait to see all the amazing things you will do in your 30s.
@Didier – Thanks for all your kind support! It’s such a pleasure following your work and adventures, too. So glad we met through IG!
Thank you so much for sharing Will!!1
@Libby – Thanks for reading!
Will, this post is so beautifully and thoughtfully written – thank you for sharing both your triumphs and struggles. I of course had no idea about your anxiety, I also deal with it, have since my early teens. My last awful panic attack was in NYC last year actually – I got stuck in traffic in the Lincoln Tunnel and really lost it (I hate tunnels, and feeling trapped in traffic). I also mostly avoid (underground) public transportation for the same reason. I’ve also feared talking about too openly because of the stigmas still out there, and fear of judgement – not from readers, but from clients and brands. Thank you again for being so open, it encourages all of us to be more vulnerable online and helps to reduce the stigmas + fear surrounding mental health. I’m so glad we connected in 2010?…it’s been a delight watching your career blossom. Your success is hard-earned and well-deserved, and I wish you another amazing decade ahead! Sending (early) birthday love. xo
@Susan – Thanks for all your support over the years. It’s really been a pleasure to follow your journey, too. Sorry to hear you are still struggling with anxiety and bravo to you for raising a family as you do. Always happy to chat if you need an understanding ear. xo
thank you so much Will. xo
This was such a great post! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Not only did it provide a more personal view of your life and blog, it really inspired us in many ways to always go for what you want!
@Marco – Thanks for the kind words! I’m so pleased that you found it inspirational! 🙂
Dear Will, thank you so much for sharing this update with us all. It’s heartening to hear you suffered with anxiety as well and managed to get through it. I recently developed the condition about 6months ago and the panic attacks have knocked me sideways. To know you’ve achieved so much and created this wonderful life and business is incredibly inspiring.
It’s been a joy to dip in and out of your blog for the last 7 years.
@Elizabeth – Sorry to read that you have recently been struggling with anxiety. Hang in there. Be kind to yourself and know the limits of your body. Take care and thanks for your readership over the years. x
I catch up with your blog now and again – but I have to say this may be my favorite post I’ve read – which is high praise as I enjoy much of your style and tone. Thank you for sharing the highs and lows of your last decade. As someone that also works in a creative field I feel that sometimes we work so hard to create a perception of “light” or “up” or “happy”. These are all great things to be – but sometimes it’s helpful to realize that other people – successful people – have struggles too.
Congratulations on all your successes and working to overcome your stumbling blocks. I hope you achieve more great things in the next ten years and the next ten etc etc etc.
@Eric – Thank you for your warm and generous words about my work and this post, I very much appreciate it. 🙂
Will, you and Toby are truly incredible human beings and this was the BEST and most heartwarming post. Love everything about it, from the honesty, your outlook, and the marathon and running shout out for Tobes! I have no doubt that you are going to soar even higher in your 30s (piloting a drone, and otherwise) and I can’t wait to see where the world takes you. So proud of you both xx
@Jo – Thank you, lovely! Sending huge hugs your way xxx
I love your honesty in this post – of course, from the outside it would seem that everything has been roses from the start but of course, it’s never ever that way and most don’t realise the amount of sheer determination and hard work (as well as setbacks & brushing yourself off and starting again) to create any kind of success. Thanks for the info about the anxiety as well – I suffer on occasion from panic attacks and anxiety myself so knowing you’ve managed to alleviate yourself of something that can be so crippling is inspiring. May the next decade bring you everything your heart desires, hun xxx
@Kimberly – Thank you so much for your support over the years. Your work is so inspirational. Sorry to hear that you have struggled with anxiety as well, always here with an understanding ear if you want to talk about it. xx
What a thoughtful, inspiring, did I say inspiring post! While we can’t go back in time, there is nothing like the here and now to start something new. Happy Birthday dear friend! To love, life and happiness (and swish in a bit of color too)
@Will – Cheers to that! Toby and I are both so grateful for the friendship we share with you and Susan – you guys rock!
Loved reading this post Will. From experience I know life is not all beautiful and put together as it seems. I think it shows a lot of courage and maturity for you to share with us about your decisions that didnt work out and particularly about your panic attacks, as I think more people suffer from them than we realize. I had my very first one last fall and it truly is like the medical info tells you….you feel like you’re going to die. I hope i never have another one but my heart goes out to you for having to face that and improve your health. Now the test for me (as i have an even BIGGER birthday decade coming up) is to see if i can be as courageous as you! You’ve given me a lot to think about. My bday is April 15th and I have a month to reflect on my last decade and what I want to achieve in this next one. They are all unique, and your 30’s will be very rewarding both personally and professionally. With each decade comes more confidence to be who we are and to find ways to give back. You already do that so well and I see you helping others have that same success. I wouldnt be surpised if more public speaking was in your future. You are such a positive role model for gay young men! Congrats on all of lifes challenges youve worked through and the successes youve achieved. I wish you a very happy birthday and a fabulous decade ahead!! xo ?
@Deborah – Thank you for taking time to leave such a thoughtful and heartfelt comment, your kind words really do mean a lot. Sorry to read that you’ve also experienced a panic attack, I really hope it’s a one off. Sending much love to you!
Well done Will. I’m sure your 30’s will be fantastic and if you ever want a little Greek rescue dog we have plenty here and can send one your way xxx Claire
@Claire – Thank you so much. Big hugs to beautiful Greece. x
ABSOLUTELY LOOOOVE THIS!! Congratulations on all your success and accomplishments, it’s truly inspiring. I think it’s great to celebrate the wins, but also reflect on those negative times as well. It makes the success sweeter. 😉
Looking forward to future blog posts and seeing what the thirties have in store for you! Thanks for sharing amazing content! Best of luck!
@Fidal – Thanks for taking time to read the post and stop by. Grateful to have you reading! Have a great Sunday!
Wow eleven years together! What I always find so lovely to watch and read is how you write about your husband. The love is shining through it! I remember that I saw Becky (SketchInc) working on custommade kokeshis for your wedding and I remember thinking that is was so cool that two Instagrammers I followed ‘knew’ each other. Weird maybe, but I found that really cool 🙂
You accomplished a LOT in ten years Will. Holy macaroni! Growing Bright Bazaar, travelling the world, moving, working, photographing and on and on and on. And as a follower it’s really cool and inspiring to see. And to read also your not-so-great-bits of the lasts ten years makes it even more inspiring. Because you did it Will. You f*cking did it. You realised you weren’t happy in your job and searched for the bright (see what I did there ;)). I’m familiar with anxiety so I know how it can knock you down, how everything will scare you and how big and scary the world can look. But each time you conquere it, will help you at the scary moments that will come. You can look back and see that even if you were scared before, you survived it. Also, it’s okay to be scared. So long you also know that you will survive it, even if you don’t believe that at that moment.
Okay, I will stop blabbering, one more thing,
I hope to see your future dreams come true. Droning as a professional, walking with your own dog, buying a house, cooking and so much more (by the way, I made fishburgers last night and holy moly, they were delicious and super easy to make, so if you like fish and burgers, I will highly recommend making fishburgers. There are a lot of recipes on Pinterest :)).
Thank your for this post and an early birthdayhug from the Netherlands.
You’ve worked super hard and this is in incredible! you deserve it well done lovely x
Oh Will, I’ve so loved sharing your journey since stumbling across you when starting my business nearly 8 years ago. Where has the time gone?!
To watch you grow in both your blogging and personal life has been lovely. You deserve every one of your amazing successes and I do hope you get your dog one day!
I too suffered from horrible anxiety and panic attacks for a period and can totally relate. Having also come out the other side I think it makes you appreciate life’s adventures even more 😉
Happy birthday Mr!
I absolutely loved reading everything here, Will! And I’m so proud of you to share more about the anxiety you suffered from, that shows how much you have grown. I didn’t know! I had… uhmmm, still have anxiety feelings. Your story about choosing to leave your job at the BBC in order to get a more steady job that eventually didn’t do well for your mental health really struck a chord with me, because I went down that path as well! So much that everything just came together and I was diagnosed with a burnout last year. I’m still fighting against negative thoughts and feelings, and on some days it goes great and I believe in my own skills. That’s the spirit I try to stick to most days, although it doesn’t always go as planned. And that’s life, right? 😉
We have to focus on the great accomplishments, and wow, you have so many! It is truly inspiring to see what you do and how you do it. I adore you and Toby and how you make our world more colourful. 🙂
Anyway, I wanted to stop by today, because I’m definitely sure it is your birthday today (March 14)!! Happy 30th Birthday, Will! Go where you want to go, do as you want to do it and keep on dreaming, life without dreams is dull. 😉 Wishing you everything your heart desires!
Can’t wait to see what all you tackle in your 30s! And I couldn’t agree more about the photography bit – it’s something I’ve discovered is a favorite part of this business. There are definitely areas I need to improve upon, and I’ve finally realized the only way to do that is to take as many photos as possible!
Beautiful sincere post Will, I loved reading every word and only with your 30th birthday today I realize how young you were when we first met in London. Time flies! Happy to see how well you are doing and to a happy birthday and many more beautiful years together with Toby in NYC
Amazing life trajectory ! Amazing and touching. Happy Bday. I remember my 30th birthday as something beautiful and so different from my life today. I am turning 40 soon, also a transplant from Europe in NYC and I think … we are fine and in a good place. Keep up living your dreams and take care of your loved ones.
@Xavier – Thank you for your thoughtful and sweet comment. Hugs to you and happy early 40th bday! 🙂
Will, how much have you packed into the last ten years!? Amazing. I look on (silently for the most part I know) and watch in awe at how much you have achieved. To outsiders it has always looked as it your were living the dream, so it must have taken a lot of courage to write such a personal post. I’m so happy you’re in a happy place. You and Tobes are two of the nicest people I know. So proud of you. Love you lots. xx
@Carole – Thank you so much for all your support and friendship over the years, I’m so grateful. Sending big hugs and lots of love to you! x
Hi Will. A friend in the UK recently introduced me to your blog. What an incredible writer you are! Thank you for your frank and inspirational reflections on your 20’s …both your setbacks and more importantly your achievements. Having only just recently jumped into the world of blogging, after at least a year of facing my fear about putting myself ‘out there’ your frankness, creativity and style are certainly an inspiration to me to continue and look at new and diverse ways of telling my stories, both personal and creative. Now that you’re in your 30’s all I can say from my own personal experience is it just gets better! Best wishes. Stephen
@Stephen – Thank you for your kind words and taking the time to stop by. I’m pleased you’ve decided to take the jump into blogging, too. Enjoy it! Take care, Will
I really appreciate you decided to share your experiences from the last ten years. It’s not only interesting, but inspiring to read about all your adventures and learning experiences. I think this post was also an invitation for many of us to think about the last decade of our life. I’m also 30+ 🙂 and I can tell you I feel the same as when I was 20, I may be older, but I have to confess, I don’t necessary feel more mature.
It also make me really happy how successful this project is. You may not believe it, but BBB is really a part of my life, more specifically from my creative life. It’s a great place to get some inspiration, a site that #makesmesmile and I really appreciate it. I still remember the first colorful picture which made me discover BBB and since then I follow this wonderful space. I may not be constant reading the posts on time, but I always take a moment (at least once a week) to see what’s going on. 🙂
Some of my favorite posts are those stories with your heartmate (I really love how you refer to him. It’s really sweet) and those about your travels.
Thank you for all that inspiration, for sharing your talent and for making me smile! 🙂
@Daniel – Thank you for your thoughtful and kind comment. I’m grateful to have your readership and support. It makes me smile to know that the blog and content has a positive impact on your life. Hugs and smiles to you!
This post is amazing. Super inspiring, all the best for your new 30+ adventures. They are even better:)