The Art of Give and Take

This week’s life lesson is the art of give and take; how I’ve been very good at giving and others have been very good at taking.

I remember writing the ‘Honest Illustrated’ post back in 2013 on how I REALLY felt about being a recent graduate. It was raw and totally unlike anything I’d read from a graduate before and I felt AMAZING to be able to give that to the world, whilst feeling sick with fear. I was so scared about posting it, that I actually closed my eyes and winced when I pressed the button.

Fast forward to 2018 and my life is very different – I can keep my eyes open when I hit publish now! I’m still pretty lost and unsure in life, whilst also being very confident; yes, I’m an oxymoron.

Let me explain, whilst you enjoy some snaps (by myself and Rosh) from the Bridget Riley exhibition currently showing at the David Zwirner gallery. If you don’t know about Bridget then give her a google because you definitely SHOULD know about her!

Bridget Riley at David ZwirnerBridget Riley at David Zwirner

Mysterious Girl

It’s so easy to paint a happy picture via the internet, and although I am honestly a pretty up beat and positive person in general, sometimes life isn’t as rosy as it seems. I’m only human it’s just not possible to be 100%, 100% of the time. We all have our own struggles, right?

Being a mysterious girl is good sometimes (I mean, just ask Peter Andre) but actually when I think about it, right now I’m doing exactly what drove me to write that brutally honest blog post in 2013. I don’t technically owe anyone the details of how I’ve been surviving since I decided to go ‘freelance’, but what I’ve realised is that actually, I want to share it.

I really HATE the mystery surrounding getting paid to do something you enjoy, the monster that is taxes and how it’s made out to be a totally unattainable lifestyle. I want to be both inspirational and relatable, and whilst I think I’m naturally quite an over-sharer (I mean, I’ve been blogging for NINE years now) I’ve noticed myself holding back recently.

Bridget Riley at David Zwirner


In December 2017 I looked back on the year and noticed that I had coasted through – I was just making ends meet and actually not pushing myself to my full potential. I felt a bit lost but had no energy to get back on the map. In January 2018 I recognised that it wasn’t good enough for me and I need to make a change. Here’s the beginning of that!

Every now and again, when I need it, I’m going to dedicate one hour for reflection, analysis and honesty and share it with you guys. Introducing: Honesty Hour. I don’t want to tie myself down to weekly or monthly because that’s when I start to rebel against the rules. I just need to know that when I need it, you guys will be here to listen.

‘Why not just write a private diary?’ you ask. Well, because this is exactly what is keeping the smoke and mirrors alive. Ok, so there are a few selfish reasons too:

  • I need accountability. As my own boss, if I don’t achieve something then I’m just disappointing myself but if I’ve told the internet about it, I KNOW I will feel the pressure and get things done if physically possible. No more excuses. I might regret this… ha
  • I need distance. You know when you’re too close to something to really recognise the good or bad? I think writing it down and stepping back will really help me realise my achievements and improvements.

Bridget Riley at David ZwirnerBridget Riley at David Zwirner

Sharing is caring

So what am I going to share? I don’t really know yet, but I’m imagining it could be anything from what I’ve been up to and general thoughts to lessons I’ve learnt and challenges I’ve faced.

I think it’ll be good for me to start doing this – letting it all out.

The other week was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. On the Friday evening I’d had enough: I was in a really negative place and felt like the world was against me. I know that I’m a nice person – I keep giving and giving but the world is not returning the favour. As you can imagine, it’s pretty frustrating and there’s only so much I can give before I have nothing left – dramatic but true!

On the Sunday I was chatting with some friends who were experiencing similar frustrations and lost feelings, when I started to give them some advice. After about 15 minutes of experiences and inspirational quotes, I realised that actually what I was saying was pretty good and I should just listen to myself. Take my own advice. We all have that voice deep inside of us, but being so close to our personal situation we can’t see it.

I introduced the girls to the 16 personalities test, which I am a massive fan of and recommend that you take the test RIGHT NOW. It’s so SO interesting and can really help you learn about yourself, especially when you feel a bit lost – which is apparently just part of my personality, sigh. I’m an ENFP (The Campaigner), and just to give you a bit more of an idea of what that means:

‘More than just sociable people-pleasers though, ENFPs, like all their Diplomat cousins, are shaped by their Intuitive (N) quality, allowing them to read between the lines with curiosity and energy. They tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle where everything is connected – but unlike Analysts, who tend to see that puzzle as a series of systemic machinations, ENFPs see it through a prism of emotion, compassion and mysticism, and are always looking for a deeper meaning.’

Bridget Riley at David Zwirner

Rainbow stripe turtleneck – Monki
Name necklace – c/o Tatty Devine
Cobalt Trousers – New Look (old)
Circle Straw Bag – c/o Next

Something just clicked

Ever since that Sunday chat I have felt so much happier, energised and determined. Looking back at myself a month ago, I had reached a plateau. As an ENFP I love to help people, but I was giving so much to others that when it came to myself I didn’t have much left. This made me realise that sometimes I need to learn to be selfish and to say no, because I can’t help everyone. (P.S. I don’t feel like this is a consequence of my blog & internet life – it’s happening IRL)

In life you will meet both ‘takers’ and ‘givers’ and there needs to be a balance. If you don’t have balance, you need to phase those people out! For example: I can’t meet with everyone for coffee, otherwise I wouldn’t get any work done. I have to be selective and meet with people whose energy, advice and ideas I can bounce off, rather than be sapped and drained by.

Remembering who I am, how my brain works is definitely helping me to work WITH instead of AGAINST myself. I thought I had to change because there was something wrong with me, when actually it was my approach that was completely wrong. Like every human, I have both strengths and weaknesses to play with, and so rather than putting myself down I need to embrace them. I can already feel this change and it’s so refreshing.


I can’t wait to put my new way of thinking into action. In the name of honestly & all… it DID take me longer than an hour to write this, but I thought I’d let myself off as it’s the first and was bound to be a big ‘un.

Thanks for listening/reading – maybe it has helped you too? Take a look in the mirror and think about what you see. You’re never too old to learn.

P.S. The Bridget Riley exhibition is on until 10th March so pop in if you’re in the area.

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© Natasha Nuttall | January 2022

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